6. Working with Emotion to Shape the Withdrawer Re-engagement Change Event (Steps 5 – 7)

Chapter 6 begins the seismic shift of the two Stage 2 change events, starting with Withdrawer Re-engagement (WRE).  The chapter reviews the “overly determined sense of independence and self reliance” of more withdrawing partners. The survival strategy that more avoidant partners use is “to avoid any emotional state that would interfere with their main goal of keeping the attachment system deactivated.” Withdrawers also seek to avoid experiencing “emotions that are associated with a sense of threat and vulnerability (such as fear, anxiety, anger, sadness, shame, and guilt.”

In the Step 7 WRE, a therapist invites the partner to take the ultimate risk of “stepping into the relationship, towards an intimate partner, with vulnerability and assertiveness, taking a stand to give voice to his or her wants and needs.”

What a therapist sees and hears in Steps 5, 6 & 7 WRE

The signs of de-escalation and a growing tone of safety are described, helping a therapist know when a couple is ready to begin Stage 2. “Emotional handles” of a withdrawer’s primary emotional experience are delineated as markers of “the withdrawer’s hidden misery or despair” and as places to begin the expansion and deepening of his or her core attachment fears and needs.

The other significance of what a therapist sees and hears, described in Chapter 6 is the new dynamic which emerges through the Stage 2 process towards WRE

What therapist and clients do in Steps 5, 6 & 7 WRE

What partners and therapist do to engage withdrawers first with their own inner experience and then in the relationship is described from the perspective of the therapist and client’s increased sense of risk.

The reader is presented with the rationale and the process for a withdrawer to take the lead into Stage 2, “diving more deeply into his or her emotional processes”, distilling and disclosing newly accessed experience to the other partner.


The observing partner’s response to the new disclosures in Step 5 expressions and the assertive re-engagement in Step 7 are described. The therapist’s empathic responding to the observing partner, is key in Step 5, and the directive prompting to take the Step 7 assertive, yet vulnerable reach towards the other partner are detailed.

Step 5: Three Ds of Deepen, Distill and Disclose are illustrated to capture what is done in Step 5 with the withdrawer.

Step 6 exploration of the observing partner’s response is described.

Step 7: Three Rs of Reach, Respond, Receive are illustrated to capture what is done in Step 7 between the withdrawer and the other partner.

How a therapist does Steps 5, 6 and 7 WRE

How a therapist uses the EFT interventions to engage a more withdrawn partner with self and with the other partner are described from Emily’s perspective to encompass both change events of Stage 2. The essence of this tools for an EFT therapist to retain his or her emotional balance while attuning to and choreographing the vulnerable, deeper, interactive processes if Stage 2 include ways to situating on the map of Stage 2 with the “3 Ds” and the “3 Rs”, following the  five moves of the EFT tango, and immersing in the RISSSC manner (repetition, images, simple, slow, soft, use of client’s words) to help partners to take risks with each other.


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