Identifying the Negative Interactive Cycle

When identifying the negative cycle, the therapist looks for the overall predominant pattern that occurs when partners are vulnerable (for example needy or anxious).

There are only a limited number of basic patterns that couples get into when they fight.

When one partner has been traumatized, cycles are always simple to understand.

A person’s position in the cycle not only reflects his/her experience but also creates it.

In EFT, all negative interactive cycles are seen as tension reduction activities.

All cycles have a control and closeness dimension.

The most common cycle is an insecure appeasing spouse interacting with a withdrawing or distancing partner

The criticize/stonewall pattern is another name for the attack/attack cycle

When a “burnt out” pursuer begins to withdraw, this may represent the beginning of grieving and detaching from the relationship.

The three ways a therapist can identify a couple’s cycle include asking leading questions, learning about their history, and observing their interaction in the session.

Wendy states that Barry always seems to put other things ahead of her. She feels she is at the bottom of his list, and this hurts. She fears that she is not very important to him, and tries to talk to him, to get him to understand how unhappy she feels about this. Ultimately, the only time he turns to her, she says, is when he wants sex. This makes her angry, and she is critical of Barry, often escalating to shouting at him. Barry gets the message from Wendy that he is a disappointment to her. He feels he must be failing her. He feels insecure, inadequate, but he also becomes quite resentful of her criticism. He begins to avoid her, working long hours and often stopping at the bar on the way home. Sometimes he approaches Wendy for sex, but recently she almost always refuses him.

The negative cycle of Wendy and Barry is:

In this cycle:

Wendy’s secondary (reactive) emotion is:

Barry’s secondary (reactive) emotion is: