Couples Therapists Share Instant Red Flags In Relationships

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“My favorite exercise in couples counseling is to have them listen to 45 to 60 seconds of instrumental music. Think Loreena McKennit’s ‘Greensleeves’ or something like that — music that people don’t usually listen to. I then ask Person A to tell Person B what they imagined while they were listening to the music, and Person B shares the same. Next, we listen to the same music again, but I ask Person A to try and see what Person B imagined (and vice versa) and pay attention to what they think or feel when they do that. Interesting dynamics come up immediately. A big red flag when we do this is, for example, Person J has trouble expressing what they visualized, but Person K has zero trouble. Then, Person J reports they can 100% see what Person K visualized and is very critical of Person J’s experience or heavily indulgent.”

“Person K will say something like, ‘Oh, yeah, I saw it.’ When I ask, ‘What did you think while visualizing it?’ they’ll respond with, ‘I was doing the exercise correctly.’

Symbiotic relationships, codependency, narcissism, and abuse are things I immediately screen for if this is the result.” —u/SilentlyHangry


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