Restructuring Interactions


This exercise is designed to help you learn to track and reflect interaction. Notice that the excerpt below contains both a recent event and an in-session moment. Below you
will see that the therapist’s reflections of Nick’s interactions and experience are filled
in. As the therapist, fill in the blanks reflecting Nora’s interactions and experience:
Nick: “Yeah, I’ll tell you how this goes between us. Last night was a good example.
I came home. I walk in the door, and she doesn’t look up. She ignores me.” (To wife)
“Yeah, and then you were pissed off because I wasn’t all cheerful.”
Nora: (wife jumps in) “You don’t really get this at all. When you came home, I was
working with your son trying to help him with his homework. You didn’t offer to help.
You went straight to your office. I can’t ever count on you. I used to get up and give you
a kiss but you seem to walk right past me, and I don’t see you for the rest of the night,
so I quit. You are hardly a part of my life anymore. Why don’t you make the family a
priority in your life?” (Nora gives Nick a stern look.)
Nick: “Of course I went to my office, because you give me that attitude every day. Who
wouldn’t leave and go be alone?” (Nick looks down and away.) “If I try to come in and
help, you just get angry and we start fighting. It doesn’t matter what I do. I can’t get it
right with you.”
Therapist: “Wait a minute, let’s slow this down. Let me get what’s going on here. This
sounds important to me.”
Reflect Nick’s simple actions:
Therapist: “Nick, You’re saying you walk in, you walk past Nora, you go to your office.”
1. Reflect Nora’s simple actions:
Therapist: ___________________________________________________________________
Reflect Nick’s perceptions of Nora’s actions:
Therapist: “Nick, you see her as ignoring you, that she doesn’t care, that she is pissed
off, it seems to you that it doesn’t matter what you do, you can’t get it right.”
2. Reflect Nora’s perceptions of Nick’s actions:
Therapist: ___________________________________________________________________
Reflect how Nick’s perceptions cue his actions:
Therapist: “It seems to you that she is mad and that it doesn’t matter what you do
because no matter what you do it is wrong, so you distance yourself.”
3. Reflect how Nora’s perceptions cue her actions:
Therapist: ___________________________________________________________________
Reflect Nick’s secondary emotion evoked by the interaction:
Therapist: “You perceive that she is not interested in you and so you put up your guard
and get defensive.”
4. Reflect Nora’s secondary emotion evoked by the interaction:
Therapist: ___________________________________________________________________
Reflect Nick’s primary underlying emotion:
Therapist: “You experience her as not interested and you feel hurt, lonely, rejected.”
5. Reflect Nora’s primary underlying emotion:
Therapist: ___________________________________________________________________
Summarize Nick’s experience in a reflection
Therapist: “So, Nick, tell me if I’m getting it right. Your experience is that when you
come home Nora doesn’t look up, she ignores you, and you get that she is pissed off
and has an attitude. You feel it doesn’t matter what you do; it’s never right. So you
walk past her and leave and don’t feel there is any use in coming back. And you end
up feeling alone and isolated. There is a kind of cycle that happens here where you feel
she doesn’t care and you walk by and don’t say anything to her. She reacts by getting
mad and critical and you then shut down. And, of course, the more you shut down, the
more she experiences you as not there and the more upset and critical she gets. Yeah?
Is that how you see it?”
6. Summarize Nora’s experience in a reflection
Therapist: “And Nora… _______________________________________________________

The therapist helps to make the negative cycle of interaction more explicit and helps the couple to stand outside and view themselves by which of the following:

The therapist finds it especially useful to track and reflect key moments with attachment significance. While almost any contact between partners has the potential to have attachment significance, which of the behaviors below are most likely to do so? (more than one correct answer):

Fill in the blanks:

  1. The therapist reframes the problematic cycle as an enemy in the couple’s relationship
    that keeps them from being close. The reframe shifts the couple’s focus of the problem
    from their partner to their (Hint: a process element.).
  2. The therapist helps the couple view the negative behaviors of critical pursuit and
    stonewalling as serving a positive function by framing their struggle as a .
  3. Looking through the lens of attachment, the EFT therapist frames critical pursuing
  4. Looking through the lens of attachment, the EFT therapist frames withdrawal and
    stonewalling as:


  1. 1. Reflect how Gina’s behavior cues Tim’s responses:
    Therapist: “Tim…_____________________________________________________________
    _____________________________________________________________________________ .”
    Reflect your sense of Tim’s behavior in terms of his underlying emotional experience
    and attachment needs. Sample answer: Therapist: “Tim, you’re saying, ‘We get in a confrontation, I start feeling
    guilt like it’s my fault and I can’t stand feeling I’ve upset her. So I leave. I keep things
    inside. She doesn’t know my insides. I leave and end up feeling isolated. So it feels like
    I can’t win, like it’s hopeless and like I’ll never make it with her.’”
  2. Reflect your sense of Gina’s behavior in terms of her underlying emotional experience
    and attachment needs.
    Therapist: “Gina, you’re saying…_______________________________________________
    _____________________________________________________________________________ .”
  3. Create a framing that includes reflections of Gina and Tim’s experience and frames
    their negative cycle as an “enemy” in their relationship.
    Therapist: “What I’m hearing… ________________________________________________
    _____________________________________________________________________________ .”
  4. Create a framing of Gina and Tim’s experience that “seeds possibilities” of safe
    Therapist: “I think that it must be difficult to imagine… __________________________
    _____________________________________________________________________________ .”