Redeemer Counseling Newsletter

Deescalating Reactive Couples

Couples who come to counseling may be arguing and asking for help on communication. When they appear stuck in a pattern of reactivity, it can often intimidate a counselor who doesn't feel comfortable interacting in that turbulent setting. Knowing how to deescalate the couple not only helps counselors build an alliance with them, but it is also key in order to begin focusing on building trust and helping them heal the relationship.

It is important to remember that the dynamics you observe in the counseling room are most likely the same ones going on at home since most people have difficulty stopping their reactive behaviors. By the time the couple comes to counseling, they are often in a state of hopelessness after trying to work their issues out on their own without success. We, as counselors, have an opportunity to create an exception in the counseling room so that the mistakes couples make at home don’t get repeated with us. The goal is to create a safe place to help them deescalate their reactivity, so that we can help them address the core hurts that are causing these reactions.

This month’s tool will focus on 5 steps for working with reactive couples. While these steps may need to be repeated in future meetings, taking a couple through them will eventually give them the skills to work through their reactive emotions that contribute to the conflict.



Ray Corbo, LMFT
Clinical Supervisor and Counselor