Technology in Couples Therapy - Part Two
a blog in two parts (read part one here)
by Ian Hammonds, LMFT-Associate, LPC-Intern
Hearing Your Partner’s Perspective:
Perhaps an entire third of the work done in any form of couples therapy is getting each partner to hear the other’s perspective. There is so much power in being heard and validated, and when we feel alone and unheard in our relationships, it leaves us feeling hollow and undervalued as people. A great way to increase feelings of being heard more thoroughly in a partnership is to create a digital space for each partner to convey the true meaning behind the messages they send to their partners. Couples therapy apps can create newer and healthier ways for each partner to engage with each other so that the other partner is not wondering what the other is thinking or perhaps feeling confused by a past comment their partner has made.
When couples initially come to me for counseling for communication issues, they are really stuck in a cycle. They are caught in a dance in which they feel powerless to manage. This is driven by feelings of not being heard, their perspectives not feeling validated, and their overall feelings of underappreciation. The elixir to this can be both couples counseling and technology—You can unpack those feelings of being unheard in session as well as consolidate these changes within an app that further creates ways for couples to hear and understand each other.
To get deeper with feelings of not being heard or appreciated in a partnership, I would also like to address an epidemic in our current society—isolation. In an age where isolation becomes so seductive and secluding yourself becomes almost easier than engaging with anyone including your partner, technology could be another way of alleviating this problem. So many partners I see have no idea how to engage with their partners as they are so deeply ingrained in their cycles of miscommunication and negativity. They come to me with feelings of loneliness and sadness, feeling helpless and blindly grasping for things that will work in their relationship or marriage.
Technological help in a marriage can be a great way to ease the loneliness factor as it could send this message to their partner ...
“Are you still here with me, or am I alone?”
This can be such an incredibly challenging task to do in person, even in a couples session.
It might seem counterintuitive to be pushing technology and a digital outlet when discussing isolation in partnerships—a huge reason why we are left feeling so alone is because of a world that emphasizes the use of technology. However, now that we recognize isolation as a problem, there are ways to start from the bottom up. And to be able to infiltrate the lack of engagement in society is THROUGH technology in a healthy and productive way as we have become so reliant on this form of communication. Our brains after all have become wired to accept computer and phone screens as ways to connect with people in current times.
For introverts like myself who have a hard time saying exactly what is on their minds in the moment, technology can be a healthy outlet to say exactly what is on our mind in a productive and healthy way without having to engage in the blatantly uncomfortable and awkward confrontations that many of my couples are faced with almost every day in their partnership. Digital communication can be a way to convey a message that some introverts have difficulty wording when prompted in the moment (i.e. “I need a second to form my words.”)
Oppositely, extroverts could also benefit from technological help in their relationships as their ease and comfort in verbalizing their thoughts could be potentially harmful to their partners (not that extraversion is bad by any means!). Externalizing thoughts and being outward with what we are thinking and feeling is a strength, but it can be overwhelming to be on the receiving end of these when the other partner could be sensitive still feeling wounded from their partner’s past words. Having a digital space to where the extroverted partner could have an opportunity to ask themselves “How will this be delivered to my partner and will they be ready and able to hear it?” could be endlessly beneficial given the couples I have seen!
Use technology as a tool to keeping and deepening your connection with your partner rather than letting technology pull you apart.
1) LifeCouple has created such a wonderful and cutting edge concept that encapsulates the continued need for couples to have an enriched and healthier marriage via technology.
2) Honeydue - is a money management tool for couples financial management needs
3) Nonviolent Communication App -provides a script to help couples get through those tough conversations
4) Dipsea for sexuality- listen to some erotic stories. Using a different way to increase desire and sexual connection with couples
5) OMGYes- a virtual reality tool for understanding your body (and/or your partner's body) and how to give it more pleasure.
In conclusion, the science of relationships and couples therapy continues to be cutting edge. Researchers and psychologists are making new discoveries almost daily about the brain and body and how it functions in long lasting partnerships. One thing we DO know is that having a safe, trusting, and long lasting partnership with someone increases our sense of self-worth, improves our quality of life, and keeps health problems at bay.
Use technology to incorporate your need to reach further and understand your partner’s needs better by creating continued opportunities to reach for your partner in an enriched and more advanced way than we have ever known! Like the LifeCouple apps' tagline says:
Let your I-Phone become your We-Phone
Make your technology work for you in your relationships!
This is part two in a blog series about technology in relationships. Read part one here.
If you would like some personalized help and support in your life and relationships, visit our Team Page and book a free phone consult with one of our therapists.