Linda Gary, MFT
(818) 917-7600
   
Linda Gary, MFT Marriage and Family Therapist Learn about my approach to therapy I specialize in a variety of problems Contact me today
 
 
 

Many individuals seek therapy to understand why they don't have a significant relationship in their life. Others come in searching for something they cannot quite describe. They may be involved in a variety of relationships but none are particularly satisfying. Something seems to be missing.

Intimacy and independence are the main components of adult relationships. These competing forces are at work in every relationship. Because of our early childhood experiences, we have unconscious, ingrained beliefs about many things, including beliefs about how we relate and interact with others. Many of us feel that we can't have both intimacy and independence; therefore, on some level, we often choose isolation.

I ask clients who are struggling with this issue to list the advantages and disadvantages of isolation. Close attention is paid to the emotions that come up in this exploration. Is there fear of being smothered and losing one's self if someone else is allowed in? Have past violations made trust difficult or threatening? Was the expression of certain emotions not encouraged or forbidden at some time in the past and perhaps continues to be discouraged in the present? Is the fear of knowing the other and being known creating an impenetrable, invisible wall?

An exploration into the reasons one isolates will expose emotional wounds that can then be processed during the course of the therapy through the developing client/therapist relationship. Change is accomplished interpersonally and it can start in the therapy room.

I encourage each client to think about certain teachers or mentors as well as friends or family members who have made a connection or an impression. Usually these same individuals have also contributed to the client's sense of self as unique. We talk about as many healthy role models as the client can name who exemplify a healthy blend of intimacy and isolation as well as other admired behaviors and ways of relating. This exploration helps clients sort through the various relationships in their lives and more clearly define what they value.

We talk about our relationship and how it developed over time, paying close attention to the ways we worked through feelings of distance and isolation from one another. Finding language for the feelings that come up between us provides a model for the expression of feelings in other relationships.

My goal as the therapist is to help clients shift their thinking about the intimacy - independence dilemma to be able to incorporate a healthy balance between the two. The need for isolation is reduced or eliminated by a clearer understanding and expression of the competing needs of each individual. The discussion alone is guaranteed to increase intimacy in relationships.

 

     
     
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