Building and Managing Intensity
In couple therapy, personal growth and relationship improvement are most enhanced by a dynamic energetic process in treatment. Aspects of such a process include active interaction, feedback, humor, confrontation, empathy, a full range of emotions, and intellectual and emotional sharing. The systemically oriented therapist attempts to create appropriate emotional intensity among partners and between the couple and the therapist. Too much intensity can inhibit a therapist’s ability to intervene in a constructive manner and for a couple to communicate effectively. Too little intensity can cause a therapy session to lack focus and prevent a couple from truly engaging each other in an intimate way. This chapter focuses on 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.