7. Things That Happen - RonaldMah

Ronald Mah, M.A., Ph.D.
Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist,
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7. Things That Happen

Therapist Resources > Therapy Books > Out Monkey Trap- Breaking Cycles Rel

Out of the Monkey Trap, Breaking Negative Cycles for Relationships and Therapy
by Ronald Mah

A psycho-educational approach about the process and pattern of intensification between intimate persons can be very effective for some relationships.  The following can be used to educate individuals, couples, or families.  The negative process between individuals can be broken down into five parts:

1. Thing that happen

2. The Interpretation

3. The Harm to… (personally)

4. The Personal Effects

5. Responses

Identifying these five components in the process can allow a person to have a chance to interrupt or intervene in the negative dynamics.  Each element offers a target for therapeutic or relationship intervention.  Each offers a potential disruptive entry point to stop one, both, or more individuals from rushing through without awareness.  As a result, the therapist has five intervention points to interrupt the anger and harm dynamics between the contentious individuals.  Individuals, couples, and families usually will freely identify and discuss the "things that happen" that precipitate the battles.  They also can identify the overt responses that can be so hurtful.  The focus of the relationship and for problem-solving turn to changing the things that happen or stopping them from happening: calling instead of not calling when one will be late; leaving wet towels on the floor; or leaving the toilet seat up versus down.  The individual, partners, or family members can be guided to communicate their wishes more clearly, boundaries can be set, and agreements made with the therapist's direction.  The therapist may find this thrust of therapy relatively easy using straight directives.  "She doesn't like that.  Stop it."  "He prefers this.  Do this instead."  This is the first intervention point.  The therapist may also find it virtually a complete waste of time.  Placing the toilet seat up or down is not and has never been so critical a behavior that it tears a relationship apart.  While there are behaviors that are much more sensational such as having a hidden bank account or keeping secrets, the "things that happen" are often only problematic based on highly provocative interpretations.  The following is a graphic that illustrates the five parts and five points of intervention.
continue to Chapter 8
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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