We have developed and have been using this model and visual representation—“Conceptual Pictograph,” based off of research in the fields of couples, attachment, and existential theories, for quite some time now in relationship workshops/retreats, and couples therapy, helping couples to work through existential issues in relationships, and get back to having ongoing meaningful encounters within the relationship and their lives. It is also applicable for use in work relationships, and has been used in workplace setting seminars, adapting it to less intimate/partner relationships, to those of work colleagues, staff and friendships. We are all in relationships all of the time in our social-relational world, and can benefit from having ideas in how to better these relationships and create more meaning within them.
A brief overview for the couples’ perspective (clinicians can adapt this to other relationship types):
Building the Bridge
Allowing couples to concretely visualize how each partner brings their own uniqueness, and personal world of many aspects (Personality, Family of Origin/Culture, Attachment Style, Experiences, “Relational Model” Style, Meaning Constructions, Core Beliefs/Schemas, Love Language, Values), connected by the bridge of the attachment to each other, is helpful in recognizing differences as well as strengths, and new outlooks for the relationship. Often times, when a couple deals with difficulties, these disruptions can be viewed as existential blocks—areas where each partner of the couple holds a very specific meaning and significance to the issue at hand, very unique and different from each other depending on their “Meaning Constructions” (comprised of: biological, personal, relational-social, and cultural). Therapists can help the couple to identify and get in touch with these deeper meanings, which often bring partners to a more compassionate stance and willingness to collaborate (seeing new ways and ideas where both members find satisfaction and fulfillment), rather than only compromising (giving up a piece of something personal and wanted in order to gain something else). Although a bridge between the couple is naturally developed at the onset of the relationship, the couple needs to continue to create the connection through this bridge at the various stages of their relationship development as well as life developmental stages.
My World and Your World
The areas within each one’s world are identified and worked through to create understanding and connection to self and their partner. Exploring each one’s world is a necessary task for relational development, and often can provide sources of deep, meaningful encounters as well as foster further connection and growth. Specifically, the “Relational Model” Style, a model developed by Dezelic and Ghanoum, is an interactional effect comprised of three adapted and highly researched areas of personality and behavior: (1) Personal-Behavior Style (Thinker, Doer, Creator, Team Player), (2) Communication Style (Passive, Assertive, Aggressive), and (3) Conflict Resolution Style (Avoiding, Competing, Accommodating, Compromising, and Collaborating) depicted in a triangular model—Conceptual Pictograph. When each of these three areas are identified for each partner, each partner can learn more about each other’s behavioral styles and how they are used in different circumstances, especially disagreements and stressful situations; there consequently, tends to be more understanding, adjusting, adapting, compassion, and connection.
Ongoing throughout therapy, the “Relationship-Meaning Triangle,” by Dezelic and Ghanoum, is addressed and worked through. The three main components of a healthy relationship, Trust, Respect, and Communication, are superimposed on V. Frankl’s Meaning Triangle of Experiences, Creativity, and Attitude (as the three areas that foster meaning in life. From the relationship perspective, the three components of the relationship each are necessary, support each aspect, and create safety in the relationship. Communication is necessary in any relationship, but flows much easier when there is an adequate level of trust and respect. With trust in the other, respect for individual uniqueness occurs, and allows for greater communication and self-disclosure. With respect for each one’s styles and worlds, trust can be built and maintained, and communication can occur more naturally. Overall, the three components (trust, respect, communication) produce safety within the relationship, allowing for greater understanding, commitment, and meaning; and offers the ground for the meaning triangle to be experienced and felt for the couple together and individually. Appreciation, connection and love ensue and are fostered from the entire workings of the Relationship-Meaning Triangle. This happens in intimate relationships, as well as relationships of other types, where there can be a level of love attained, or all of the above aside from love. Love also occurs naturally from one’s essence, however, is not enough to make a relationship work or last. Love can be seen as in the background as the starting factor, but also ensues as couples work through the areas of the Relationship-Meaning Triangle.
The essence of this model allows couples to: learn about each other’s worlds and ways of being, and the world of the relationship, create Meaning in the relationship through the Relationship-Meaning Triangle, stand on the bridge of connection to collaborate from a central point, and handle conflict resolution styles to recover from existential blocks.
These Handouts are meant for Mind-Body-Spirit (bio-psycho-social-spiritual) awareness and self-help empowerment. ENJOY!
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