Stage 2

Kathryn Rheem and Jennifer Olden Are Giving Me Hope in Stage 2

I just started the Stage 2 Video Café with Jennifer Olden and Kathryn Rheem. This training is where we watch tapes of Kathryn working with a Stage 2 couple, and she explains her thinking, what we need to see and get to with each step, and how to conceptualize each partner in this stage. And Jennifer guides the process, asks great questions, and slows Kathryn down at key points so we’re able to soak up as much as we can. 

This training is insanely cheap, it’s only $50 for the actual video café. You do need to purchase her tapes of the couple, which (with the discount) comes to $240. But for Jennifer and Kathryn to only charge us $50 for their work over 8 weeks is crazy discounted. This means that after production costs, they’re basically making enough to buy themselves a bagel and spending 8 weeks of their own time helping us learn this stuff. 

Let me tell you, if Kathryn Rheem said she was going to just record herself thinking out loud about random EFT things for an hour, I would pay $500 to get that. Hearing her speak is like being showered with SOLID GOLD RAINDROPS OF GENIUS. God, I wish she’d write a book. Or just live stream her thoughts to us all the time.

I think the main thing most of us took away from the first session is Kathryn’s transparency in the process with her clients. (I know this because at the end, Jennifer asked us all what we are taking away and everyone said, “TRANSPARENCY!!”). She spoke about this in a way that truly changed how I think about helping clients understand what we're doing.

She said, in such a lovely way, she started being more transparent because she simply couldn’t hold everything in her head. So she asks permission, saying, “Is it ok if I’m more transparent about what I’m thinking, and about where we are?” I imagine all her clients become little heart-eye emojis when she says this.

She said that Jim Coan, the great researcher, said we wake up in the morning with two questions:

1)  How am I doing?

2)  What’s next?

So she uses that in every session. Every session she wants her clients to understand how they are doing, where they are right now in the process, and what’s coming up next. 

I loved thinking about this, and helping a client understand that right now, our task is to get a clear picture of the cycle, and in a while, we will be deepening those emotions, understanding some of the more vulnerable feelings. She talked about how before going into Stage 2, she helps prepare them, asking the Withdrawer how it will be for them that she’ll be spending more time focusing on them at first. She asks the Pursuer how it will be for them that she’s spending more time opening up with their partner and less time with them. 

Kathryn only uses a sentence or two, not a giant monologue about what each step and stage is. Just hearing some of these sign posts she gives clients about the process made me relax more. I could imagine how much safer and more secure it would feel for a client, particularly one with trauma, to know more about where we are now and where we're going up ahead. 

There were so many gems from this session I can’t include even 10% of them. It makes me profoundly grateful for what Jennifer and Kathryn, and other EFT Masters, generously give us to help us get better and better for our clients. 

 

Entering into Stage 2 Work - Are we there yet?

There comes a time in every EFT learner’s journey when they have to step into Stage 2 work. All while I’ve been learning EFT I’ve seen Stage 2 as a very distant place, and honestly I haven’t worried much about it. I thought I’d be in Stage 1 forever, really. Recently, though, one my couples seemed like they were ready for Stage 2 work, and I realized that, for better or for worse, I was going to have to be the one to take them there.

Eeeeeee. I really wanted to just tap in my supervisor or another experienced colleague and say, “could you come do this session instead of me?” It felt like such a difficult risk to take. And in preparing for this, and trying it, I wanted to share it with you in case it’s helpful.

So first, I’m pretty sure I kept us dancing around the end of Stage 1 for like 4 sessions longer than I needed to. But I wanted to be REALLY really sure they were ready for Stage 2. At the end of Stage 1, in Step 4, we are, “reframing the problem in terms of the negative cycle” and speaking from a place of the couple’s underlying feelings and attachment needs (Johnson, 2004). This couple could do that. They got the negative cycle, they could name when they were in it, they could repair after. They understood it was their “freaked out” emotions and panic of losing the other that fueled the negative cycle. They each took responsibility for their actions in the cycle (p 166).

Most important to me was to assess the feeling of their emotional safety. I really felt like they were each wanting to support each other. When one would risk vulnerability, the other would be right there for them. There were still moments of disbelief and skepticism, but never done with bullets.

I still couldn’t be 100% sure it was time. And this was interesting, I thought when I got here it would be more obvious to me. But it wasn’t as black and white as I thought it might feel. What I could feel from the couple is that they were starting to get almost antsy and bored with Stage 1. At one point one of them turned to me and said, “I think we need to go into some of the harder conversations.” So it was interesting to feel their readiness, before my own!

Another component is that these two have a more complicated cycle. They aren’t quite pursue-withdraw, they aren’t quite withdraw-withdraw, and they have flipped roles over the years. One partner is a little softer, the other a little more passionate. So I started with the softer client. They touched more into their view of self, and shared their fear they wouldn’t get it right for their partner if they showed up more. We spent a whole session on this, and I think this was withdrawer re-engagement, but again, more nebulous in their cycle. This went well, and yet also felt relatively low-risk. It felt like they were being vulnerable, but the process was not as high-octane as when we ask the more pursuer partner to reach from their fear. 

Then, it was time to take on the big kahuna.

As the softer withdrawn partner started to come forward, and say they wanted to be there for their spouse, I could see that view of other/self start to pop up for the more passionate partner. They started to question, do you really want to be there for me? These moments make me so grateful for Sue Johnson’s work. It all comes about so organically, it’s amazing to hear clients voice almost word for word what’s in her writing.

I knew I had to ask them to reach from their fear, that it was time, but I was also scared. What’s if it’s too early? What if I’m gauging this wrong? It’s such a big risk for everyone in the room to do Step 5 with the more pursuer partner. We are really heightening their fear, and then as Lorrie Brubacher says, asking them to “feel the terror that’s been running the show, reach out of the terror, and feel being caught,” (Zordich, 2017).   It’s also the one moment (as I understand it) when we don’t stay and process the client’s reluctance to share, like we do every other time in EFT. Every other time we slice it thinner, we make it safer, and we certainly want to make sure it will be safe for them to share with their partner, but this is a time when we have to heighten the fear and ask them to reach from that fear. This is where I hear Sue’s famous words, “I’d like you to try,” from one of her training videos.

The enactment went as well as I could have wanted it to, but I was surprised by how vulnerable we all felt in the room after. Even though the more pursuer partner was caught (beautifully) by their partner, they had still just taken a roller coaster ride in their primary emotions. I was feeling their vulnerability and my own, and hoping I had done this all right for them. It felt raw, and new, and as Rebecca Jorgensen reminds us, a place where all three of us had never been before.

I wish it had felt more black and white, and I could know for certain it was time and I did it all right. But I realized at some point I was going to have to take this risk, and trust all I have learned so far. What was this risk like for you, the first time you went into Stage 2?

 

Johnson, S. (2004) The Practice of Emotionally Focused Marital Therapy: Creating Connection. New York, New York: Bruner/Routledge

Zordich, P. (March 4, 2017) @efttherapist. retrieved from www.instagram.com