Hold each other tight at CSU couples workshop

This Valentine’s Day, CSU is offering an alternative to the usual rituals of dinner, cards and gifts. It’s an opportunity to shake up the routine and learn about a new framework for understanding love and conflict.

book coverThe latest research on adult attachment, common patterns of distress for couples, and strategies for strengthening their connection are the focus of a workshop hosted by CSU’s Center for Family and Couple Therapy. The workshop – which is educational and not group therapy – is called “Hold Me Tight” and involves four weekly 100-minute classes with other couples. Co-facilitated by Dr. Ashley Harvey, a licensed marriage and family therapist and CSU faculty member, and Paul McClure, a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice, the annual workshop has helped dozens of couples.

The Hold Me Tight workshop is based on the teachings in the book “Hold Me Tight” by Susan Johnson, and uses the concept of emotionally focused therapy. Emotionally focused therapy is grounded in attachment research and has a 70 percent to 75 percent success rate. Results have been shown to last even in the face of significant stress.

Harvey says attachment research shows that it is not just kids who benefit from a secure attachment, but couples too. Couples who are connected have less conflict, more effective communication, and higher relationship satisfaction. These couples can turn towards one another and share tough feelings, and also have an easier time giving each other the benefit of the doubt. When couples experience a disruption in their connection, common arguments about chores, decisions, and kids are harder to resolve because underneath the content lies an undercurrent of “Do you really value me? Do you see me? Do you care about me?” that is going unaddressed.

“When I talk with couples, either as a therapist or as an educator, a universal theme emerges: We all want to feel connected to our partners,” said Harvey. “We all want to have a relationship where we are seen, accepted, and valued. Understanding adult attachment allows us to see how we get stuck in negative cycles that prevent us from getting the connection we truly want, and change that pattern to one of closeness and comfort.”

In the first session, Dr. Harvey will present an overview of the research on adult attachment in romantic relationships. Individuals and couples can choose to attend this first presentation without committing to the full couples workshop. During the remaining three evenings, couples will discuss the book, “Hold Me Tight,” view video clips of couple conversations, and explore communication patterns, without sharing details about their relationship. The workshops are from 6:00 to 7:40 p.m. once a week for four weeks on Tuesdays, starting on February 24 and ending on March 24 (skipping March 17). Workshops are offered through the CSU Center for Family and Couple Therapy and will be held on campus. Each session is $45 or, if the series is paid for in full, $120.

For more information or to register for the workshop, please call the Center for Family and Couple Therapy at 970-491-5991.

The Center for Family and Couple Therapy is in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, College of Health & Human Sciences. For more information, visit www.hdfs.chhs.colostate.edu/cfct.