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01.01.1970 01:0000    Comments: 0    Categories: You Asked (Text Files)      Tags:

You asked...


I was recently asked if TPM could be used with a married couple that is in a joint session. I am relatively new at this process and was not sure how to answer. My initial response was that individual sessions would need to occur to ensure each person understood the process and was willing to allow the Lord to take them to their individual places of pain. Once this process was started it might be possible to bring them together and to do TPM with them individually while the other spouse was present - provided they did not use TPM as a tool of provocative and judgmental antagonism toward each other.


In your seminars, manuals and books I have read nothing about using TPM with more than one person at a time. Knowing you and your wife have done marriage counseling, I wondered what your response would be.


Ed Smith's response: 


Much of what I am about to say I borrowed from the 2005 edition of the Basic Training Seminar.  I do not try to minister to both parties at the same time in that it might get to out of hand.  I believe that good ministry needs to remain focused on the one person in need at a time.  Sometime marriage couples want to stay in the room together during each of the sessions.  I do not mind this but it usually causes a problem at some juncture.  If the spouse being in the room causes the other person to hesitate going to a memory, speaking out loud about some issue, of maybe the spouse is the one who has hurt them, then it is a hindrance.  Sometimes having the spouse in the room initially before the session begins is just is what is needed to get someone all stirred up and thus ready to do ministry.   If having the spouse in the room causes someone to get triggered and stirred up, I will have the other party to leave and wait in the hallway.  When a person is complaining about his or her spouse's behavior, I want to know how his present situation causes him to feel. I might ask, "When she does this, how does it make you feel?" If he can identify the emotion, I will encourage him to begin to focus on the feeling. As he is focused on the painful emotion I will ask him to allow his mind to surface any thought or memory that seems related to this same feeling. The conversation might look something like this:


Facilitator:  Jim, how does it make you feel when your wife does that to you?


Jim:  I feel like I am backed up in a corner and cannot say what I need to say or believe. It feels like no matter what I say she will still say that I am wrong even though I know that I am not.


Facilitator:  You just told me several belief statements but how does all of this make you feel?


Jim:  I feel frustrated and powerless.


Facilitator:  I first want to acknowledge to you that if what you are saying is accurate      concerning your wife's behavior, what she is doing is not OK. However, your frustration and feelings of powerlessness may be coming from other places besides the situation with her. If this is true, then you are truly powerless to do anything, if you make your focus on changing your wife's behavior. 


Jim:  How's that?


Facilitator:  Remember what I showed you a moment ago in the Flip Chart about how our present pain is often an "echo" or reflection of earlier past painful experiences? It is very possible that at least a portion of what you are feeling is being triggered by what your wife is doing. If this is true, it is very possible to have this measure of frustration and powerlessness completely removed so that your wife could not make you feel this way, if you are willing to go to the root of these feelings. How would that be?


Jim:  I honestly cannot imagine that, but it would be wonderful.


Facilitator:  Have you ever felt these same emotions before, outside of what occurs with your wife?


Jim:  Oh, sure. At my office with my boss all the time


Facilitator:  How about earlier life experiences? Did you ever feel this same way?


Jim:  The feeling has been with me a long time since I was a child..


Facilitator:  Would you be willing to lay aside the issue with your wife for a moment and allow yourself to feel these earlier emotions and see if any childhood memory comes to mind that feels the same?


Jim:  I will try.



When I deal with the relational issues of a married couple, rarely do I find that the couple's current conflicts are the real cause of their problems. Their present issues are almost always an echo of their individual childhood wounds resurfacing when current circumstances that they encounter are similar to their old hurtful ones. This is a hard concept for many people to accept.  It is much easier for couples to blame their hurts on each other than it is for them to accept the notion that their present hurts are an echo from their unresolved past experiences. This is not to say that couples do not cause and also receive hurts in their present relationships. They do-as long as they continue in their present lives to act out on the pain coming from the experiential lies of their pasts. It is as though they are actors repeating the same old lines every time their cue card is held up. If their current pain is coming as an echo from the past, it is futile to try to heal the echo rather than dealing first with its source.


As was recorded in the conversation above, if there is genuine pain in a person's present life, I will acknowledge it and assure him that this is something we will address, but at the same time encourage him to put it aside and look for his earlier woundedness. If he is willing, I have him think back to the earliest historical picture he can find that matches his emotions. We then explore his memory until the lie within it can be identified. I summarize lie statements to him that are reflective of what he has shared and have him rate these statements on a 0-10 scale, looking for the one that feels the most true. I have him focus and deal with lie statements that get a 9 or 10 in rating.  When a statement is rated at 7 or 8, I know I am close, but the statement still needs more clarification and adjustment. If a person has stated that he feels trapped and held against his will in the memory, I might ask, "How true does the statement, ‘I am trapped and cannot get away' feel to you?" Sometimes the person has a picture that seems to have little or no feeling (sometimes this is due to dissociation), but it is easy to know when the lie is touched because it will usually send out a shockwave of pain throughout the picture. The lie will always be accompanied by discomfort and emotional identification unless, of course, there is some manner of dissociation present that is blocking the person's pain. 


When working with a couple you may want to take some time eigther before their sessions or after and talk about how each of their lie based opain is being trigered and creating conflict.  Give them both a copy of Healing Life's Hurts to read before your next session.  It is very helpful for couples to start operating their marriage on these principoes.  It can really take much of the fight out of it when people can own what is theres and not just act out on it. 


I hope that this helps.


Ed Smith

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