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On the last track we discussed the stretching technique. The six steps of the stretching technique are identify grievances, identify underlying desires, make a specific request, share underlying desires, rank requests, and exchanged lists.
On this track we will discuss testing. Most of this track focuses on a technique for overcoming testing that tends to be productive for male intimacy clients. Therefore, after examining testing and the Two Stages of Progression Through Abandonment that often accompany testing, we’ll discuss the experiencing neediness technique. In my use of the experiencing neediness technique there are five steps. The five steps I use are confessing an inability to need, don’t fake it, keeping boundaries, confessing needs that can’t be experienced, and paying attention to what evokes hunger.
Examination of Testing
Karen explained to me, “One day Chuck told me he loved me so much that he wanted to know everything about me. I tried to answer all his questions, but the questioning started to seem like subtle hostility.” I found that what Chuck was doing was ‘testing’ Karen.
I stated, “Recognizing that a partner in a relationship is a tester is the first step toward facing and resolving this potential destroyer of intimate relationships.” Chuck’s testing was in the form of asking difficult questions. If Karen failed to answer a question truthfully, Chuck then questioned her honesty regarding all aspects of their relationship.
In therapy, Chuck began to learn about his fear of abandonment. I find that generally a fear of abandonment is directly attached to childhood fears.
For Chuck, like many male clients, the fear was of losing his mother. Would you agree that when male clients grow to be adults, the continuation of this fear indicates a shaky self esteem, which may be another common problem regarding intimacy issues of clients like Chuck?
Two Stages of Progression Through Abandonment
Stage # 1 - Unconscious Fear
Stage # 2 - Conscious Fear
Step 1: Confess the Inability to Need
Step 2: Don't Fake It
Step 3: Keep Boundaries
"This also creates more distance inside. Let Karen and others know when you’ve had enough connecting time and don’t push it too hard. This helps you feel much safer internally and more ready to take risks because you can feel comfortable that you won’t be swallowed up by relationships.” Think of your Chuck. Could the way I described keeping boundaries to him benefit your male intimacy client ?
Step 4: Confess Needs
Chuck then stated to me, “I don’t really know if I’m sure that’s true.” How might you have responded to Chuck? I stated, “Bear in mind you may not be able to feel these truths. That doesn’t mean they are less true. And you are integrating as much of yourself as you can into your relationships. This paves the way for the rest of yourself.”
Step 5: Pay Attention to What Evokes Hunger
I stated to Chuck, “It may be an empathic statement from Karen or she may identify with you on a fundamental level you’ve never experienced. But you’ll find yourself moved. You may feel loved or feel closer to her. That is your need awakening. Whenever you sense that you’ve responded internally to Karen, trace down what it is about what she said or did, and how that relates to her character.” Karen added, “Tell me what it is that you’re drawn to, also, and how it helps. Let me know what you want more of.”
I felt that the experiencing neediness technique could help Chuck overcome his fear of abandonment. Is your male intimacy client struggling with a fear of abandonment? Could the technique on this track benefit him? Would playing this track in a future session help?
On this track we have discussed testing. Most of this track focuses on a technique for overcoming testing that tends to be productive for male intimacy clients. Therefore, after examining testing and the Two Stages of Progression Through Abandonment that often accompany testing, we’ll discuss the experiencing neediness technique. In my use of the experiencing neediness technique there are five steps. The five steps I use are confessing an inability to need, don’t fake it, keeping boundaries, confessing needs that can’t be experienced, and paying attention to what evokes hunger.
On the next track we will discuss intimacy as a stressor. We will look at the scale of fulfillment and rating aspects of the relationship as ways to identify the cause of stress and a method to begin coping.
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