10. Resiliency DevEnergy Later - RonaldMah

Ronald Mah, M.A., Ph.D.
Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist,
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10. Resiliency DevEnergy Later

Therapist Resources > Therapy Books > Out of Dev Chrysalis Intimacy/Relationship

Out of the Developmental Chrysalis in Intimacy and Relationship Therapy
by Ronald Mah

Resiliency allows for skipped, rushed, incomplete, stalled, regressed, or suppressed developmental energy to be re-stimulated in the organism.  While an individual, couple, or family may pass through a critical period for development without meeting his or her/their developmental needs, the critical period is not an absolute period.  As noted earlier, second-language acquisition, learning to ride a bicycle, and most importantly for relationships, attachment may suffer inadequate experiences during a critical and subsequent harm.  Fortunately, resiliency allows for second opportunities later in life to achieve another language, learn how to ride, and develop secure attachment.  Individuals display resiliency when they attempt intimate relationships in adolescence and adulthood despite poor early attachment.   And try and try again.  Resiliency offers hope to individuals and couples that despite early losses, stress, and trauma, and failed and failing intimate relationships that they can recover and establish healthy relationships and lives nevertheless.  The therapist may be impressed or stunned that an individual, couple, or family continues to seek intimate relationships despite horrific experiences and devastating disappointment.  The therapist can give positive feedback validating the individual, partners, or family member's hope and resiliency.  Resiliency has brought them into therapy.  The therapist and all human services professionals must believe in resiliency or lose professional hope and accept irreversible doom from early attachment failures, generational inheritance, and prior psychic trauma.  Without resiliency, therapy is not possible.  Without believing in resiliency, the therapist cannot be a therapist.

Despite disappointment and emotional abandonment as he emerged from his childhood, Vlad continued to seek emotional sustenance from intimate relationships.  His developmental energy re-asserted itself with friends, peers, and work colleagues, while working through problematic and less rewarding social behaviors to develop a relative social grace.  With work colleagues and friends however, Vlad did not go to the depths of vulnerability and connection he desired with his most intimate relationships- that of his romantic life partner.  This was the depth and quality that he had desired and needed from his parents and failed to get… that he experienced that he failed to elicit… failed to deserve.  Despite the primary failures, subsequent failed romances, and erratic connection with Collyn, he kept trying.  Although immature and damaged, his ability to elicit, absorb, and reciprocate nurturing was not extinguished.  He had sufficient resiliency to continue trying to build upon his nascent ability to connect.  Over time, expending much energy, Collyn's dedication, and with significant work, Vlad was able to become more securely attached.  

Vlad's anxiety about abandonment and rejection from Collyn did not disappear, but instead became gradually quantitatively less frequent, less intense, of shorter duration, resonated less negatively in his life and the relationship, and caused less damage.  Greater awareness and subsequent compensatory skills modified his attachment style.  Or, despite his anxious attachment style, Vlad was able to adapt his behavioral responses to effectively self-soothe and to request and gain soothing from Collyn.  Vlad's resiliency allowed for him to have a reparative relationship with Collyn that overtly targeted his developmentally inadequate attachment needs.  Part of his process included a reparative relationship with the therapist as an authoritative "adult" or "parental" figure who was available and was nurturing.  Unlike the butterfly who cannot re-enter the chrysalis and be re-born again, resiliency allows for reparative relationships that can compensate for developmental needs that were rushed or skipped or otherwise harmed during earlier critical periods.  Collyn expressed amazement that "It's like we did therapy, and he came out a new Vlad!"

3056 Castro Valley Blvd., #82
Castro Valley, CA 94546
Ronald Mah, M.A., Ph.D.
Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, MFT32136
office: (510) 582-5788
fax: (510) 889-6553
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