By Chandrama Anderson
Couples Counseling, Al Pacino StyleUploaded: Nov 8, 2019
I had the pleasure of listening to Pete Pearson of the Couple's Institute in Menlo Park talk about the importance of working as a team in couple's counseling. He showed the following video clip of Al Pacino giving an inspirational talk to his football team before a big game, and asked us to think about how it relates to couples counseling:
In my way of working, there are not only the three of us in the room, each of you, but there is the third entity -- your relationship. Also, there are each of your parents (or whomever raised you), plus your life experience encoded into the very cells of your body, your implicit and explicit memory; all triggered by your limbic brain for survival in 1/200th of a second.
Now that's a crowded room!
My job as the coach of this large team is to draw out the many facets of who you are in constructive ways, and to teach tools for win/win in your relationship. Active listening is not enough: what does your experience mean to you? What does a specific action or word, mean to you? I'm certain it means something different to your partner.
The truth is, you can not do it alone. Even if you learned growing up that "Things will be done competently only if I do it myself," that can not be true in a committed relationship: there are two of you. You need a two person system.
If you think about it, it's no wonder conversations or understanding can be so difficult; you look at one another and see what you see. You look like one person to her, yet underneath your skin is a host of beliefs, values, voices, needs, wants, fears, feelings, and experiences . . . The many facets of your authentic self, some of whom you know, and others that you try to hide, even from yourself. This is your humanity, your gift and your weakness.