Lifestyle

Mending Hearts

Couples therapist Kara Rohn reconnects the ties of love

By Rich Adams

 

Falling in love can be instantaneous. Love at first sight. Thunderstruck.

Falling out of love can take years.

That’s where Kara Rohn steps in. Rohn, a licensed professional counselor who practices in Frankenmuth, mends relationships and brings couples back together.

Rohn, the operator of Heart & Home Counseling Services, said it isn’t so much that people fall out of love, but rather they stop communicating in a positive way.

Their affection decreases.

They lose their emotional responses to one another.

“A lot of people think it is caused by increasing conflict, but that is not necessarily the case,” said Rohn, a Midland native who earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology and master’s in professional counseling at Central Michigan University. “It is usually caused by negative communication and a negative cycle of interaction. Then the bond that held them together as a couple weakens over time, and they become increasingly disconnected.”

Rohn specializes in couples therapy and individual relationships therapy with adult women. She utilizes emotionally focused couples therapy, or EFT, a fairly short-term process of counseling that involves expanding and reorganizing emotions to take the place of negative patterns, bringing the couple back to a positive emotional state.

“One person in a relationship is often being criticized for not meeting the needs of the other person. One partner is pursing a response and the other is not responding,” Rohn said. “What EFT does is change how the couple responds and gets them out of the negative pattern causing the issue. Once they know what to do, the positive interactions become reinforcing and bring positive and permanent change.”

EFT therapy lasts between eight and 20 sessions. She usually sees a shift in the way the couple interacts after about eight sessions.

Rohn said there is not a specific tipping point in a relationship that signals there might be a serious problem, but the pattern usually involves one person who has reached the point of thinking about ending the relationship or has taken steps to sever the bond, such as filing for divorce.

“Some couples are very proactive and come in at the first sign of problems, which is better,” said Rohn, who has practiced in the area for more than 24 years. “But a lot of people wait until a lot of damage is done, and sometimes so much damage is done over time that one partner may not want to try anymore.”

Research shows EFT is about 75 percent effective in moving couples from distress toward recovery, and about 90 percent achieve sufficient improvement.

Rohn said the start of a new year appears to be a period when, after the distraction of the holidays, couples begin to realize there might be a problem in their relationship.

“I know the holidays can be a busy time for people anyway, because there’s so much going on,” Rohn said. “After the holidays, when things get kind of quiet and settle down to life in general that the problem becomes more obvious.”

She said October is also a time when she sees couples seeking help after their children get in a school routine and parents tend to focus on their personal issues.

Rohn said she will not provide therapy to people who are in abusive situations or where one of the people involved has made up his or her mind 100 percent that the relationship has ended. She also will not work with couples if one of the partners is in an active affair outside the marriage or has an active addiction. That amounts to about 10 percent of the clients who seek her counsel.

Rohn recently began practicing at Community Mental Health in Sandusky, Ohio, working with families living with autism. Prior to that she worked as a youth and family therapist for Bay County Family Court.

“But my passion is working with couples, so I am able to do that in Frankenmuth with the small private practice I started in 2012,” Rohn said. “It has really gone well. I appreciate the clients who come to me for help. I love doing that.”

According to the International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy:

  • EFT is based on clear, explicit conceptualizations of marital distress and adult love. These conceptualizations are supported by empirical research on the nature of marital distress and adult attachment.
  • EFT is collaborative and respectful of clients combining experiential Rogerian techniques with structural systemic interventions.
  • EFT has been validated by over 20 years of empirical research. There is also research on the change processes and predictors of success.
  • EFT has been applied to many different kinds of problems and populations.
  • To expand and reorganize key emotional responses – the music of the attachment dance.
  • To create a shift in partners’ interactional positions and initiate new cycles of interaction.
  • To foster the creation of a secure bond between partners.

To learn more for more information on emotionally focused therapy, or EFT:

Visit the website at iceeft.com

Check your library for “Hold Me Tight; Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love” by Dr Sue Johnson

Go online to find “An Emotionally Focused Workbook for Couples: The Two of Us” by Veronica Kallos-Lilly and Jennifer Fitzgerald

 

Why We Marry

According to a 2016 Pew Research study, love trumps all other reasons to marry. Nearly nine of every 10 Americans – 88 percent – chose love as the primary reason they married their spouse. Other reasons were making a lifelong commitment, companionship, having children and having a relationship recognized in a religious ceremony, with financial stability and for legal rights and benefits making up the rest of the list.

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