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PART 1 – Our Own Space
As we continue to adjust and manage our lives through this new norm of social distancing and regulation of our usual ways of behaving, we find ourselves confronting our thoughts and feelings concerning space.
During these unprecedented times, we’ve experienced a heightened awareness of our own personal space and also our external space – contact with other people (whether in the intimacy of our personal environment or in a public context).
Over the years I have felt privileged to be able to share space with many single and couple clients in the environment of a therapy room or online. Within that space, thoughts, feelings and behaviours have been expressed both consciously and unconsciously. Currently, there’s a real importance and relevance to what the therapy room/session represents – a place to go to, a place to focus, a place where there is a boundary between our private and work/social spaces. Coming out of one space and into another offers us a boundary whilst we transition, where we might re-calibrate and reflect.
As a psychodynamic relationship psychotherapist, I often think about space in it’s many contexts and configurations within a relationship dynamic – our physical, mental, emotional and psychic space.
How do couples manage their relationship space? Is the partnership able to offer each a space to be alone and also share with others? Is space available naturally, or do we need to negotiate it?
Space – what does it mean? I imagine we all have our own truths for this word. Creating it, having it, being given it, forced to make it, or having it taken away/minimised.
Having space in a relationship can feel refreshing and creative and we can appreciate space when leave it and return to it, sharing the experiences of our transitions. We are continuously a part of what makes up space, whether we are present or absent from it. Our total selves are shared in the relationship space; providing us with experiences, discussion, debates, arguments, agreements or simply affirmation and pleasure.
Conversely, space can also evoke anxiety and fear, as we might feel unstable, unsafe and vulnerable in our shared space. Negative emotions and behaviour can arise and they may be momentary, or on a continuum. We may try to manage our relationship space using avoidance tactics, or feel compelled to confront and question. How we are able to regulate ourselves in our relationships is an ongoing, life-long learning process as we try to consider our needs and those of others.
In contrast to our “inner space”, our external environment, the space around us, has important affects and outcomes on how we feel and behave. Finding positive space can help us to reflect and repair.
Creating space can provide some time to pause, re-think and then re-group. Conversely, creating space can create fear of abandonment or loss.
Are we able to reflect on how we experience the space within our relationship? How do they serve us and make us feel?
What if we feel that the space is claustrophobic – physically, mentally and emotionally? Are we feeling too merged and enmeshed with another person? Can we experience our genuine self when in our relationship? Do we give our partner the space they need?
A therapy session is space.
In Part 2 of this Blog, I reflect further on space and the shared space of the couple relationship.
Prevention vs. Cure – a “Relationship Health Check”
By “checking in” for a “Service”, we can help to find ways to regulate and maintain our relationships. In essence, a “health check” for relationships. A set of sessions could get us back on track and on a shared route as our partnership moves ahead into the future.
How can this be done?
I am happy to contract a set of sessions – lasting 4 or 6 consecutive weeks to support you focusing on any specific ongoing/regular issues in your relationship. We can discuss an outline of your requirements.
- By seeking support at intervals within our relationship lifespan perhaps annually or bi-annually.
- Being open to a brief programme of therapy sessions to focus on specific issues.
- Having an idea of the issues which might be causing/triggering difficulties (and noting down the feelings and patterns of behaviour, especially if they are repetitive).
- Committing to a scheduled time in your diary to sit together and fully focus on yourselves in the context of your relationship.
Finding time and space to …..
Can be beneficial and re-set your relationship patterns going forward. For more information please message me.
Pro-action can provide control and awareness.
Re-action can evoke defensiveness and denial.
Article available on the Independent newspaper online –
SHANA LEBOWITZ, BUSINESS INSIDER, Sunday 11 March 2018 12:32 GMT