Present process both path and destination in emotionally focused couples therapy:
Staying in present process is a fundamental approach and orientation that we use in emotionally focused couples therapy. When we tell the story of our relationship we often get caught in the content of our narrative siding with ourselves against our partner, while we feel convinced of “the truth” of our perspective we find ourselves estranged from our partner stuck in a reactive cycle of blame. A skilled therapist brings us back to the feelings that fuel these reactions. Being where we are and sharing the feelings that arise in the present help us to begin the journey of healing.
Often as partners contact the reactive emotions that have been fueling the cycle these feelings of anger or contempt begin to give way to softer more vulnerable feelings of fear, sadness, disappointment or hurt. We recognize how we move to react in order to protect these vulnerable parts of ourselves. We can discover how this cycle is perpetuated when one or the other partner feel threatened triggering the fight or flight reaction. This occurs when the survival part of the brain is engaged. These basic parts of the brain cannot distinguish emotional threat and physical threat and therefore we react as if both are a threat to our survival. This is reinforced in childhood when we depend on our caregivers for both love and survival.
See part II here