Hold Me Tight Workshops (HMTW) present a streamlined version of Emotionally-Focused Therapy (EFT.)
The Workshop walks you through “seven conversations” that capture the defining moments in a love relationship. We divide the workshop into 8 segments. We devote half a segment to getting to know each other, and half a segment to our good-byes. The other seven segments are devoted to learning about the “seven conversations.” Each segment provides both instruction and some practice on how to shape these “seven conversations” into experiences that create a secure bond. The workshops includes:
- Video presentations of case histories
- Video presentations of key theoretical ideas,
- Group discussion and sharing
- Brief lectures
- Exercises for you to work on with your partner(s) apart from the main group, with a licensed therapist dropping in to coach you
The Seven Transforming Conversations
- Recognizing Demon Dialogues—In this first conversation, couples identify negative and destructive remarks in order to get to the root of the problem and figure out what each other is really trying to say. They learn how they trigger each other in an escalating cycle, and about the source of energy that feeds these fiery escalations.
- Finding the Raw Spots—Here, each partner learns to look beyond immediate, impulsive reactions to figure out what raw spots are being hit.
- Revisiting a Rocky Moment—This conversation provides a platform for de-escalating conflict and repairing rifts in a relationship and building emotional safety.
- Hold Me Tight—The heart of the program: this conversation moves partners into being more accessible, emotionally responsive, and deeply engaged with each other.
- Forgiving Injuries—Injuries may be forgiven but they never disappear. Instead, they need to become integrated into couples’ conversations as demonstrations of renewal and connection. Knowing how to find and offer forgiveness empowers couples to strengthen their bond.
- Bonding Through Sex and Touch—Here, couples find how emotional connection creates great sex, and good sex creates deeper emotional connection.
- Keeping Your Love Alive—This last conversation is built on the understanding that love is a continual process of losing and finding emotional connection; it asks couples to be deliberate and mindful about maintaining connection.
How Effective Are the Workshops?
Research demonstrates that EFT relationship therapy provides significant relief of symptoms for 70% of clients within about 12 sessions.
The Hold Me Tight Workshop can’t do the heavy lifting that ongoing therapy can, but it can introduce you to a new way of understanding your difficulties. Some couples find the basic tools to work things through themselves, others find the HMTW is a useful orientation that can jump-start therapy. HMT workshops give even highly distressed partners a relatively low-cost introduction to EFT and an overall framework of the steps they will be taking in therapy. This can dramatically shorten the course of therapy.
How much a HMTW can help you depends on many factors.
For many couples, especially those who are open to taking in new experiences and new information during the workshop, the HMTW is enough to get started on working through issues on their own. Working on your own is facilitated by using the Hold Me Tight Workbook, which includes step by step exercises to help you move through the seven conversations. The workbook will be available at the workshop. Some relationships find the HMTW and workbook enough. Others find the HMTW an introduction to deeper work in therapy.
When partners are so emotionally aroused they can’t take in the new information and experiences we offer in the workshop, the HMTW is not enough to create lasting change. As well, sometimes relationships get into “negative cycles” of communication in which one partner triggers the other partner, who in turn reacts by triggering the first partner. Escalation or withdrawal into isolation and despair can result. Couples that are in this distressed state often benefit from the HMTW, although it would be too much to expect that any workshop would fully restore their relationship to joyous connection. When this negative cycle gets deeply entrenched by repetition, intensive ongoing therapy is often required to break up the pattern and learn new ones. However, even these more distressed relationships often benefit a great deal from the HMTW. For these couples the HMTW can provide a realistic vision of how change can happen, and this provides hope that takes the edge off despair. As well, the HMTW is a helpful, low-cost introduction to working in your relationship with the tools of EFT, and it can reduce the number of sessions distressed partners might otherwise need in therapy.
The Hold Me Tight Book
The HMT workshop is based on the book Hold Me Tight, by Sue Johnson.
Advantages of Workshops
- Studies have shown that workshops, groups and individual psychotherapy benefit most people who participate. Ideally, participants leave with a better understanding and acceptance of themselves, and stronger interpersonal and coping skills.
- Workshops are cost-effective. They typically work out to less than $20/hour, compared with up to $185/hour for therapy.
- A common feeling among workshop members, especially when the things are just starting, is that of being isolated, unique, and apart from others. Workshop participants often discover that others in the group have similar issues. Members come to feel less alone with their problems.
- Mastering group interaction is healthy. Human beings are social animals, born ready to connect. We are born into a family group, participate in groups throughout school, and as adults often work and socialize in groups. Much of our self-esteem is developed through feedback and reflection from important others we encounter in groups.
- When people come into a workshop and interact freely with other participants, they usually play out the difficulties that brought them to the workshop in the first place. The dynamics of each participant’s everyday life are evident in how they interact with each other. This makes workshops the perfect observation ground for your everyday behaviors. The difference from everyday life is that in workshops you get helpful feedback if your attempts at connection are off-key. You get support to change.
- Workshop exercises provide a real-time chance to become aware of new ways to improve your relationships, and an opportunity to try out new behaviors in a supportive and safe environment.
- Participants feedback to others is monitored by professionals, and shaped away from being critical towards being helpful. This is a skill that is useful in intimate relationships.
- Because the basic rules of interaction are monitored by professionals, and standards of communication enforced, workshops are a safe environment for participants work towards establishing a level of trust that allows them to talk in an honest and more vulnerable way. Building trust is often a key issue for participants. The psychological safety of the workshop allows expression of vulnerable feelings which are often difficult to express in the world at large, but that expression can be carried back into your relationship.
- Seeing how others resolve problems gives hope for change and provides a model for new behaviors.
- Participants often develop feelings of caring for each other, and this nurtures a capacity for caring relationships with significant people beyond the workshop.
- Participants can learn to ask for the support they need to change.
- Participants learn their boundaries are worthy of respect. You are the one who determines how much you disclose in the workshop. You will not be forced to disclose anything you do not want to disclose.
- You can participate in both workshops and therapy at the same time. They are complementary learning experiences.