Have you ever wondered about emotional intimacy and how it influences your life? While you can enhance your sense of pleasure and meaning through emotional intimacy, the power that different types of intimacy and the various levels you are comfortable with can be challenging for you to understand. Interestingly, the comfort level for your emotional intimacy is a reflection of your childhood.
Your personal experiences memorized in your brain become enhanced in your intimate relationship’s interaction in a way offered by any other outlet. The psychologically rewarding experiences begin with the family. But, as with adverse life events that sometimes occur in childhood, such as trauma, your ability to form and maintain an emotionally loving or trusting relationship can be severely diminished. Sometimes, the trauma may leave you with reduced intimacy or even the inability to receive enjoyment from familiarity and affection.
Since experts know childhood strongly influences adult life experience, many people turn to psychotherapy to understand how early life events and social learnings continue to influence adult interactions. For some, the therapeutic relationship can become an emotionally intimate connection that teaches about enhanced intimacy with others.
An intimacy equation illustrates an individual’s ability to create and maintain an intimate relationship within their lifetime. As I worked with individuals and couples, the equation helped my clients view where the conflict in life may come. In this way, I allowed each person to view, enhancing their intimate relationships through personal healing.
Imagine a mathematical equation with two sides. On the equal sign’s left side, two categories of intimacy get listed – physical and emotional. On the right side of the equation, three zones of intimacy experiences must get itemized. On the left side, you will see hundreds of subcategories. Examples could include shaking hands-on first meeting a person or the physical intimacy of sexual intercourse; while under emotional, you could list greeting someone, falling in love, commitment, and deep friendship. Under the right side’s three zones are listed comfortable, excessive, and insufficient. The right side notifies you of the quantity and intensity of those intimacies on the left at any given or specific moment.
To demonstrate how the equation works, you may remember times in your life when you felt a need for more intimacy. The chart would place your left listed experience in the insufficient intimacy zone on the right. There may be other times you feel overwhelmed by too much intimacy, so your doctor lists your experience in the excessive category. When you think of the right amount of intimacy filling your life and comfortable with where you are in relationships, your experiences would fit into the habitable zone placement.
Since humans are creatures that strive for the comfort level and intimacy they are accustomed to, it is easy to see how you may desire to find and maintain your comfort level for any intimate contact you may have. That means that if you grew up with a wide range of close childhood associations within your family and friends, you will likely look for and feel comfortable with the same in your adult life.
However, if you found little emotional closeness in your childhood, you may tend to fear closeness or intimacy and keep people at bay for fear of rejection or harshness. Psychotherapy can help you broaden the range of intimacy you are comfortable with as it enhances the quality of life you live as you accept more intimacy into your life.
Treating Couples With Neurofeedback
Relationships are notoriously tricky, especially those living together. Creating an environment conducive to healthy interactions is key to a couple’s success. However, personality conflicts and underlying psychological conditions and responses can lead to volatile, explosive, and abusive behavior. Therefore, psychotherapists have created several couple’s therapy models to help couples build a supportive and healthful relationship. Although, not every treatment plan is as effective or curative as some might wish it to be.
Relationships take continuous work involving diligence and commitment to move forward together. Neurofeedback conditioning has seen some positive results for couples willing to commit to therapy, and it typically begins with determining environmental and situational triggers.
Environmental And Situational Triggers
Part of building a healthy relationship is creating an environment where both partners feel comfortable and safe. Unfortunately, some conditions, such as intermittent explosive disorder, can confuse establishing such an environment. That is why a therapist will typically spend some time trying to understand situational triggers that lead to violent outbursts, the theory being that removing or limiting exposure to these triggers will lessen the volatile reaction.
It is necessary to understand the role of the environment and triggers because without being addressed, one or both partners’ explosive behavior will only further negate relationship success. Also, without resolution, other vulnerable parties, such as children, might mimic the rage and anger in the home.
Challenges Of Therapy
One of the significant obstacles to therapy is the lack of time. Most insurance or managed care companies limit couples to between three and ten sessions, likely not long enough to get to the bottom of the problem, especially in relationships prone to physical abuse. Therefore, brain wave therapy focuses on conditioning a rapid neurological and physiological response to diminish frustration and increase relaxation and safety thoughts.
While this treatment alone will not resolve the underlying conflict, in combination with traditional therapy, it can help a couple have positive feelings toward each other, allowing for more productive conversations and disagreements.
When combined with traditional therapy, biofeedback training can elicit more positive emotions between two partners, allowing each to self-regulate their levels of anxiety and frustration. The neurofeedback approach requires multiple sessions and a progression through at least three different phases of treatment.
- Phase One – The initial phase of treatment introduces the methodology and the tools used to train the patients in brain wave control. Through an EEG machine, three electrodes or sensors, and acoustic sounds, a patient learns to amplify their slow brain wave activity to enhance feelings of well-being and promote emotional and behavioral control. Two electrodes get placed on the earlobe and the back of the neck. The last sensor is placed on the scalp to record the EEG readings.
- Phase Two – The second phase gears itself toward individualized practice. Each patient gets hooked to the EEG in separate, 30-minute sessions. During these sessions, they learn to meet the preset amplification of Alpha and Theta brainwaves. They will progressively work through increasing amplification until they have mastered the skill. They will also be working by themselves at home to practice these techniques without the EEG.
- Phase Three – The final step is home generalization and practice, together with touch therapy. The couple decides on an agreed-upon time to sit with each other. They will spend time holding hands and practicing breathing and focus techniques to achieve slow brainwaves, allowing each person to feel relaxed and safe with the other.
The use of neurofeedback in couples therapy is still not well-documented. However, we have experienced success in its implementation and feel confident in the treatment’s ability to lower stress levels and promote positive associative experiences. If you want to learn how a brain injury lawyer can help you with money for emotional problems after a bad car accident in Los Angeles, call us now at (213) 596-9642. We are here to listen and help you learn about your rights to justice at a courthouse near you.
“Spiritual Intimacy, Marital Intimacy, and Physical/Psychological Well-Being: Spiritual Meaning as a Mediator” – US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.