Stopping the Demon Dance

What Do I Mean by Stopping the Demon Dance?

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Demon Dances are the negative standard stimulus-response pattern which eases a couple into their preferred pattern of engagement.

You can prevent Demon Dances by employing the skill using softened start ups, accepting influence, and the habit of complaining instead of criticizing.

Another example of a Demon Dance would be the Protest Polka, which is another bad communication habits that couples are often trapped in.

The Demon Dance floor inevitably leads into the roach motel, and you get into a heated argument that neither of you can ever seem to escape.

It only takes a second to dance into a positive or negative space. Door number one… productive and useful discussion…door number two…all hell breaks loose.

You say this… and I say that.

Why Do We Get Up and Dance in the First Place?

Your issues. More specifically, your perpetual issues. Dr. John Gottman tells us that 69% of problems in marriage are fundamentally unsolvable. They concern deep fundamental differences that call out for careful management with mutual respect, goodwill, and humor. Otherwise, you fall into a Demon Dance.

Couples therapists call them “content.” And we therapists are advised to try to stay out of content. It tends to drags us onto the Demon Dancefloor, with both of you expecting us to take your side against your outrageously unreasonable partner.

No Avoiding Content

The only problem is, of course, content is what you both care about most.

Amateur “all purpose” couples therapists sometimes take this caveat about content too far, frustrating their new clients, and weakening the therapeutic bond from the start. Or else they have so little structure in their sessions that they let the couple rage about content, fighting about it openly. Either extreme is problematic.

One of the points my Emotionally-Focused Therapy (EFT) trainer George Faller made to me in my recent training was that couples need to tell their story.

Empathy and validation with the feelings under the story are the best way to get to discussing the couples Demon Dance.

When a couple begins to see that there are opportunities for connection if they try different a different dance step, the blood can be cleaned off the dancefloor, and it could be a more spacious and welcoming place.

That’s what George says the therapist’s job entails; holding a space for new possibility. I imagine skillful couples therapy is like taking dance lessons.

Corrective emotional experiences are the beautiful new dance steps When you can truly see where your partner is dancing from, you also have a chance to lead or follow as well.

Demon Dances can be replaced with smooth moves. Empathy and mutual understanding are the best ways to go back on the dance floor.

Our Couples Retreat is a Perfect Opportunity to Change the Tune!

Call us for more information 844-926-8753 to reach me, Daniel Dashnaw, use option 2.

About the Author Daniel Dashnaw

Daniel is a Marriage and Family Therapist. He currently sees couples at Couples Therapy Inc. in Boston, Massachusetts, three seasons in Cummington (at the foothills of the Berkshires...) and in Miami during joint retreats with his wife, Dr. Kathy McMahon. He uses EFT, Gottman Method, Solution-focused and the Developmental Model in his approaches.

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