EducationCouples Counseling Video Announcement

Craig Toonder, MFT. Oakland Couples Counseling

Couples Counseling Video Announcement

Oakland Couples counseling is pleased to announce the release of it’s first video, “Behind the Argument.”

The video describes a model by Jon Eisman, founder of Re-Creation of the Self, and how it applies to couples’ arguments.  The video proposes a belief  that a fundamental aspect of being human is that we possess a drive towards love and connection with others. It explains how when our desires for connection get thwarted at a young age, we all develop coping strategies to manage the feelings that ensue. Unfortunately, these very strategies that helped us survive our childhood, all too often, end up creating problems in romantic relationships as adults.

The video explains how these strategies also create a system or “cycle” in which the couple’s attempts to interact with each other productively, inadvertently become  triggering to our partner and thus the cause of the conversation becoming counterproductive.

For example: Sally feels disconnected from John. As Sally’s loneliness turns to frustration, she complains that John is “never there for her” in an attempt to get him to show up more. John gets trigger. He feels like he is failing Sally, like he is not good enough. He also feels that this is unfair. He becomes distant and complains that Sally is “never satisfied.” He defends himself by explaining how he is there for her, hoping that this will convince her that he is there. Sally gets triggered. She feels unheard and even less connected to John. She feels like what she’s asking for is so basic, and she feels disappointed that she can’t seem to get this through to him. As her disappointment turns to frustration, she can’t believe that John “doesn’t get it.” So, she naturally increases her argument around his lack of availability to try to get him to understand. John feels the heat. He gets anxious about a possible fight. He starts thinking: “her she goes again.” He starts getting upset and tells her she is being “irrational.” Sally is now not only feeling disconnected, she is feeling rejected and shamed by John. She starts wondering why she is even with such an “emotionally-unavailable man.” The cycle runs a few more loops until Sally eventually storms out of the room, slamming the door behind her. John then retreats to the garage for the rest for the day. Neither understand why the other is “acting that way.” Neither is aware how their behavior contributed to their partner’s behavior.

The video then goes on to explain how couples can use this model to map out their fights and begin to develop the tools to understand each other better. For mapping out the fight does three things. First, it slows everything down and helps couples gain the awareness of the cycle they are trapped in. Second, the map allows them to trace their steps back to more vulnerable emotions (which are hard enough to share when we are not fighting.) Third, it frames the argument as an attempt to feel some aspect of love: connection, acceptance, safety, etc. With these new perspectives, the couple can then develop ways to communicate with each other about what they need or feel without triggering each other as much.

If you haven’t seen the video, you can watch it by clicking below:


If you are interested in taking classes on understanding couples’ arguments and what to do about them, visit my workshop page or contact me for a free phone consultation.



The Couples Counseling Channel is a You Tube channel dedicated to providing couples with educational material to help them improve their relationships. Videos will explore issues around how relationships got off track as well as offering advise on how to improve the quality of your relationship.


Jon Eisman is a therapist in Oregon and one of the main instructors for the Hakomi method of psychotherapy on the West Coast. Jon has created existential approach to psychotherapy similar to Hakomi called the Re-Creation of the Self. Jon has been an invaluable teacher and guide in my journey as a psychotherapist.