Couples therapy podcast with Denise Van Outen and Eddie Boxshall

I am part of a new podcast Before We Say I Do with Denise Van Outen and her partner Eddie Boxshall which has been top of the relationship podcast charts.

Denise and Eddie decided to make a six-part podcast where they try out different types of relationship counselling to help them to decide whether to get married. They have been together for seven years and feel that they are very much in love. They want to take that next step in commitment to each other and felt it would be helpful to have some sessions to explore this.

In the podcast, which launched on Monday 22 February, the couple try six different sessions: Psychosexual Therapy, Psychotherapy, Laughter Therapy, Psycho-energetic Therapy, Cooking Therapy and Hypnotherapy.

In my episode, the first in the series, I used a method called Encounter based Therapy or Bridging developed by Hedy Schleifer from the Imago Scripts of Harville Hendrix.

Harville developed scripts to help couples listen to each other in different areas of their lives from sharing joy to how to turn a resentment around or how to make an amend.

Hedy added a piece of neuro-science where she makes sure the couple feel relaxed and open by guiding them to relax and feel their body and give each other appreciations before one person deeply listens to the other.

When people’s nervous systems are more regulated and relaxed it can be easier to be Available, Responsive and Engaged in connection. (Are you in an ARE place was developed by EFT’s Dr Sue Johnson to discover whether a person is ready to listen and share.)

Since I only had an hour and it was being filmed, I wanted to keep the couple as safe as I could and not open up any big difficulties. I wanted to give them a simple session to connect and listen so I began with guiding them to appreciate each other and hold hands.

The hand-holding builds oxytocin (the happiness hormone) in the couple and also begins to help to create a playful bond and a safer container to help the listening. Then I guided one partner to listen deeply to the other sharing a lovely memory of their connection.

The process reminded them of their early connection when they had spent a lot of time together as just the two of them. In the words of Emotionally Focussed Therapy, creating a safe container can seed a feeling of attachment and the couple can get more in touch with feeling the love that they really feel for each other. They then may wish to look at the rupture and repair that happens in any relationship and the tools to negotiate this.

What I hoped is that I could give them a window into what it is like to slow down enough to really be with each other. I wanted to demonstrate that when we create the space and time to talk in a safe and contained way, the relationship can really benefit.

Denise wanted to hear what Eddie felt and to hear him open up so I guided him to share a lovely moment from their relationship. Then I invited them to cherish each other by appreciating their looks and personalities.

I also talked with them about ‘turtles’ and ‘octopuses’ – how couples can polarise into withdrawers (avoidantly attached) and pursuers (anxiously attached).

I hope you enjoy the series. For me, it shows that couples work is becoming more mainstream and easier to talk about and that the taboo of asking for help is becoming lifted. That can only be a good thing.

Press coverage

Denise Van Outen opens up about her love life: ‘I’ve let work take over my relationship’
yahoo!news, February 2021

The technique that helped Denise Van Outen reconnect with partner Eddie Boxshall
yahoo!news, February 2021

Bridging scripts

A Precious Neighborhood

The Cherishment Circle

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