Emotional Intelligence in Couples Therapy

I was recently directed by a colleague here in Portland, a nurse practitioner who works with couples to the work of Brent Atkinson PhD, author of Emotional intelligence in couples therapy: Advances from Neurobiology and the science of intimate relationships. In this book, Dr. Atkinson's primary premise is that insight is often highly overrated by therapists and clients alike. The problem in applying mindfulness and self-awareness techniques in the moment of experiencing intense emotions is that clients are not in the mood to apply these techniques at those moments. In his 2005 article in the Journal of Systemic Therapies,
Dr. Atkinson wrote:
Clients would need some way to practice thinking differently at the moments when they were actually upset. Practicing new thinking alone would not do the trick. Learning the dance moves is of little value unless they are practiced when the music was playing. Clients would need to practice new thinking under “game conditions,” that is, when they were actually upset, and least able to apply new ways of thinking. But how could they do this? When they got upset, they seemed completely unable to think differently unless we were there to help them.
Dr. Atkinson has concluded that clients need their therapist right there with them, in the moment when they are feeling overwhelmed. Although this is ideal, it is simply not possible.
Maybe our voices could go home with them. We began making audiotapes for our clients to listen to at home whenever they became upset. Clients didn’t need to remember new ways of thinking when they were upset, they just needed to remember to turn on the tape recorder, and our voices directed them through a new thinking process.
Recently, I've been recording coaching scripts during my sessions for clients to use at home. These recorded coaching scripts have been immensely helpful in helping my clients move into mindfulness more easily in the face of self-doubt, anxiety, or even agitation or anger. Once I've recorded the script with the client, I then make the recording available for retrieval online for use in between sessions. Below is a sample of one of these sessions I recorded with a client to help him manage his anxiety by focusing on his breathing. The second recording is a script for couples developed by Brent Atkinson.

I've posted more audio coaching scripts ready for download here.