Couples Therapists

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These articles by Michele Alperin and Emily Heine were prepared

for the October 11, 2000 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights

reserved.

Emotional Intelligence

By focusing narrowly on getting the job done, corporate

cultures have denied the critical role emotions play in the business

environment. In the view of John D. Mayer, a psychology professor

at the University of New Hampshire, emotions must be recognized for

their formidable effects on relationships among employees and with

customers. "The presumptuous thing we say," says Mayer of

himself and his colleagues, "is that emotions convey information

about relationships. If you are not sensitive to these emotions, you

are throwing away an important source of information about your

customers

and your company."

Mayer will speak on "Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace of

the Future" at the New Jersey Department of Personnel’s fall

conference

entitled "Workforce Challenges in the 21st Century." The

conference

takes place Friday, October 13, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the

Merrill

Lynch Conference and Training Center on Scudders Mill Road. Cost:

$150. Call 609-292-6219.

Mayer began thinking about the place of emotions in human interactions

at the University of Michigan, where he majored in literature and

drama, Class of 1975. After a couple of years at Michigan, Mayer moved

from the Residential College, which housed budding artists and

writers,

to the North Campus Co-op, where the majority of residents were

engineers.

"Although both the artists and the engineers were very

intelligent,"

says Mayer, "there was something about emotional logic that the

artists understood but the engineers did not."

That "emotional logic" is something Mayer has been trying

to pin down throughout his academic career. He and his colleagues

have developed the concept of emotional intelligence, which involves

"the ability to reason validly with emotional information."

Mayer’s definition of emotional intelligence is far more precise than

the amalgam of people skills, optimism, and emotional sensitivity

that is popularly associated with the concept. Emotional intelligence

is an ability that comprises four distinct skills:

Perceiving emotions accurately. One aspect is the ability

to read facial expressions.

Allowing emotions to facilitate thought. For example,

if a supervisor is feeling sad at work and an employee approaches

him with a suggestion, a response that acknowledges the supervisor’s

emotional state might be, "I’m feeling kind of pessimistic today;

try it on me tomorrow."

Understanding emotional meaningsand what relationships

various

emotions convey. For example, to a person with emotional

intelligence,

the connotation of "feeling guilty" is that he has done

something

wrong, feels bad about it, and would like to set things right.

Managing emotions and behaving in a way appropriate to

them .

"Emotional understanding," says Mayer, "teaches not only

knowledge of emotional meanings, but a way to behave." For

example,

an emotionally intelligent person would consider how to work most

effectively when feeling sad or angry.

Mayer explains why an increased focus on the emotional aspect

of business relationships is critical to the next step of corporate

development. "Whereas we have made tremendous strides in science

and technology over the last century, progress in human relations

has been far slower and more frustrating," he says. As a result,

corporate culture is beginning to "recognize that the ability

of people to work together is important for results and that feeling

management is an important part of working together."

Mayer makes several suggestions to help corporations improve their

sensitivity to and support of emotional intelligence:

"Policies should be written with the understanding that

feelings are important," explains Mayer. "As procedures and

policies are developed, management should keep in mind their emotional

as well as pragmatic implications."

Corporations should recognize that emotional intelligence is

not necessary in all positions. Mayer claims that this view liberates

organizations from the idea that one should promote only emotionally

intelligent people. For an excellent technician, line engineer, or

non-supervisory scientist, excellent skills and politeness may be

sufficient.

Personnel departments should clarify which positions demand

emotional intelligence. "For supervisory personnel, to the extent

that their success depends on good interpersonal relations, it is

important," says Mayer. Research also suggests that personnel

officers and customer service representatives with emotional

intelligence

are more successful.

Where necessary, train personnel to increase their emotional

intelligence. "I believe emotional knowledge can be taught to

a person who is interested," explains Mayer. One approach would

be to use the curricula that are being developed to teach the discrete

skills involved in emotional intelligence. Another approach that has

been effective is for individual coaches to teach the skills of

emotional

intelligence to personnel who need them.

Mayer suggests that it is time to close the gap between progress in

the realms of technology and human relations. Companies that do not

pay attention to the role that emotions play will find their neglect

reflected in their profit margins. "Emotions convey information,

and you have to know that information, or you are not going to do

as well as people who do know it," says Mayer.

— Michele Alperin

Top Of Page
Couples Therapists

Couples therapists often assume "they should help

husbands and wives fight less and work together more before attacking

their sexual problems," says therapist David C. Treadway.

"Sex therapists typically plunge right in, treating sex

difficulties

mechanistically, as problems to be solved."

Treadway prefers to interweave the two approaches, and he will do

so at a workshop at the annual conference of the American Association

for Marriage and Family Therapy of New Jersey on Friday, October 13,

at 8 a.m. Those who attend the conference, at the New Jersey Hospital

Association’s conference center on Alexander Road, can earn six

continuing

education units. Cost: $140. Call 800-694-4403, extension 4.

Treadway earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University

of Pennsylvania in 1970 and 1972, trained in family therapy at the

Philadelphia Child Guidance Clinic, and took his Ph.D. at Union

Graduate

School, Cincinnati. He has concentrated on family and couples therapy

in his private practice since 1977, and currently runs the Treadway

Training Institute in Weston, Massachusetts. His first book,

"Before

It’s Too Late: Working with Substance Abuse in the Family"

established

him nationally as an expert in family therapy and substance abuse.

His second book, "Dead Reckoning: A Therapist Confronts His Own

Grief," published in 1996, is a very personal account of what

happened to him when he faced professional burnout in his 40s. "I

had done my own therapy when I was in my 20s," he says, "and

I thought I was finished dealing with my dysfunctional family. But

when I went back to my therapist for what I expected to be a tune-up,

we found a whole lot of unresolved issues to be addressed."

In particular, he wondered how he could be successful as a husband,

a father and a therapist and still lack real emotional commitment.

Seeing how his wife grieved when her mother died, he began to question

why he lacked similar feelings for his own mother, an alcoholic who

committed suicide when he was 20. To rediscover his mother and his

younger self, he turned to his father and sister, both of whom had

nervous breakdowns after Martha Treadway’s death, and to an older

brother who became an alcoholic, a younger brother and an aunt.

With help from his therapist and, surprisingly, two clients, he

finally

gained a clearer understanding of his mother. Although she had seemed

indifferent to him and her other children, she actually was suffering

from terrible insecurities and anxieties. Having gained fresh insights

from this voyage into his past, he was able to find new meaning in

his life and work.

In his workshop, "Pathway to Intimacy: Gender, Intimacy and

Sexuality,"

Treadway will present a specific treatment model and address the

following

themes:

Introducing sexual intimacy into couples therapy.

Creating a safe and nurturing context for each member of a

couple

to explore his or her sexual vulnerabilities and desires.

Helping couples celebrate the mystery, frustration and magic

of gender difference.

Helping couples create a rainbow of sexual possibilities that

include being playful, spiritual, routine and spicy.

Enhancing couples’ abilities to grow beyond their childhood

wounds and unmet expectations.

Exploring the way gender enhances and limits couple therapists.

Treadway believes therapists should help couples deal with sex

problems early in treatment. "Couples frequently come to a

therapist

with well-worn battles — and no language to deal with their sexual

problems," he explains. "I prefer to steer away from the fight

of the week and into new territory. This approach allows the therapist

to focus on feelings to be shared rather than problems to be solved.

It can open a very different level of communication and allow the

tenderness we all have to come to the surface."

— Emily Heine


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