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On the last track we discussed Avoiding Taboo-Loaded Communication. For the purposes of this track, Avoiding Taboo-Loaded Communication consisted of six steps. The six steps are be specific, be straight, be direct, be clear, create a climate for honesty, and tell the truth.
On this track we will discuss becoming aware of intimate discontent. A technique for becoming aware of intimate discontent that I implement in my practice consists of three steps. The three steps to becoming aware of intimate discontent are experiencing feelings and defining what is wanted, and rediscovering old strategies.
I find that too often men like Alan from the last track discover that the real experience of intimacy eludes them. Clearly your client also knows how it feels to be deprived of emotional intimacy. Is your Alan searching for the interpersonal connection which he believes would make him a ‘whole person?’ Alan, like my other clients, was unable to identify or articulate these feelings.
I stated to Alan, "Clearly, love and good will aren’t enough to create an experience of fulfillment in relationships. No one meets anyone’s needs when those needs aren’t identified and revealed." Alan responded, "I’ve always felt that way. I just didn’t know how to put it into words."
As a consequence of living out the male role which in itself inhibits feeling, men tend to be incapable of making that deep connection. Instead, like Alan, male intimacy clients continue to be brave, to act as if everything’s all right, to ignore sensations that might inform them that they’re hurt or discouraged. Instead, they experience their specific disappointments as a generalized vague discontent.
I find that men like Alan can rarely pinpoint the exact nature of their intimate discontents. Therefore, clients like Alan express discontent by not believing in the possibility of intimacy, by focusing all their attention on work, by being scared of making commitments, and by avoiding emotional intimacy when they are in romantic relationships.
Alan stated, "Why did I marry my ex wife? I didn’t think I’d ever fall in love. She wanted children and so did I, so I married her. She was as good as anyone else." How might you have evaluated the source of Alan’s intimate discontent? What techniques do you currently implement to help male clients with exploring the root of intimate discontent? Might the following technique for Becoming Aware of Intimate Discontent also be productive?
3-Step "Becoming Aware of Intimate Discontent" Technique:
Step # 1 - Fully Experience Feelings
Step # 2 - Define What You Want
"The more specific you are about defining what you want, the easier it will be to make it happen. In the physical world, objects exist whether you think about them or not and despite what you think of them. In your psychological world, however, nothing exists until you create it psychologically. If you want it, think about what it is and how to achieve it. Your vision, what you want, and how you are going to make it happen, depends on you."
Step # 3 - Rediscover Old Strategies
I stated to Alan, "You already have a set of skills you can use to explore the root of intimate discontent, even though you may not be aware of them. Think of an intimate disappointment and analyze how you came to accept it. What did you do to achieve acceptance of your discontent? How can the same technique help you in accepting and exploring your current intimate discontent?"
Alan used these three combined techniques to become aware of intimate discontent. The purpose was to increase Alan’s awareness of the discontent he already felt. How might these techniques benefit your client? Could playing this track in an upcoming session be productive?
On this track we discussed becoming aware of intimate discontent. A technique for becoming aware of intimate discontent that I implement in my practice consists of three steps. The three steps to becoming aware of intimate discontent are experiencing feelings and defining what is wanted, and rediscovering old strategies.
On the next track we will discuss hidden sources of knowledge. Our discussion will be based on four principles for identifying hidden knowledge. The four principles we will discuss are most criticisms have some basis in reality, many criticisms are disguised statements of your own unmet needs, some criticisms may be an accurate description of a disowned part of the self, and some criticisms may help identify the lost self.
Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Papp, L. M., Goeke-Morey, M. C., & Cummings, E. M. (2013). Let's talk about sex: A diary investigation of couples' intimacy conflicts in the home. Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice, 2(1), 60–72.
Schroeder, J., Fishbach, A., Schein, C., & Gray, K. (2017). Functional intimacy: Needing—But not wanting—The touch of a stranger. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 113(6), 910–924.
Wetterneck, C. T., & Hart, J. M. (2012). Intimacy is a transdiagnostic problem for cognitive behavior therapy: Functional Analytical Psychotherapy is a solution. International Journal of Behavioral Consultation and Therapy, 7(2-3), 167–176.
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