Building and Managing Intensity
In couples therapy, personal growth and integration are most enhanced by a dynamic energetic process in the treatment. Aspects of such a process include active interaction, feedback, humor, confrontation, empathy, a full range of emotions, and intellectual sharing. The systemically oriented therapist attempts to create appropriate emotional intensity among clients and between a couple and the therapist. Too much intensity can create an inability for a therapist to intervene in a constructive manner and for a couple to communicate effectively. Too little intensity can cause a therapeutic session to lack focus and prevent a couple from truly engaging each other in an intimate way. This chapter will discuss the management of intensity for the purpose of creating a dynamic therapeutic environment for clients. In addition, the often-observed phenomenon of therapist and client resistance to heightening emotional intensity will be reviewed.