HeartMath: Couples Therapy Embraces Cutting Edge Technology

HeartMath: Couples Therapy Embraces Cutting Edge Technology

Here’s the bottom line: HeartMath technology reflects how the heart responds to stress.

Conflict in relationship causes untold heartache and pain. According to the World Health Organization, the number one killer in the world is heart disease. It’s no great surprise to know that stress is one of the main contributors to this condition.

However, HeathMath Technology has come up with state of the art technology to help us have a different relationship with our hearts.

Couples therapy is very dynamic and fast moving; things can be addressed in the room and skills can be practiced on a weekly basis. The work is often very interactive between the therapist and couple and this encourages growth and development.

Whether the couple is always fighting or a cool frost has developed between them, couples need to learn skills to manage their fears and anxiety around communication.

When I introduce HeartMath, couples are extremely intrigued and pleasantly surprised by the results they see. HeartMath essentially monitors “heart variability and heart coherence” (a direct indication of how much stress a person is under.) HeartMath has been very successful in helping people manage their stress and life balance.

So how does it work?

HeartMath, quite simply, measures our heart rhythm patterns to see how in sync they are. Through a small clip attached to the ear, you get an array of instant feedback to see your heart rhythm patterns. This feedback is projected onto a monitor or screen. It’s incredible to see on the screen that when you are stressed, your heart rhythm patterns jump all over the place. You can actually SEE your stress on the screen.

The bottom line: HeartMath reflects how the heart responds to stress.

A successful HeartMath example

A couple came to me because of a particularly stressful fight that led to a physical altercation. The couple shared how fearful they were of this violence happing again. When I introduced the HeartMath technology, they met it with eager questions and enthusiasm.

Both partners had trouble with escalated emotions, and neither of them were aware of when and how often they triggered their partners. Sometimes in session, one partner would barely utter a few words and the other would be entirely triggered and overwhelmed. The key here was that they both didn’t know how much their tone and body language were affecting the other. When I attached each partner to the HeartMath technology (a clip that attaches to the left ear) they both got to see clearly on the colored bar chart how stressed they were.

Awareness is the first step to the healing process, and allowing this couple to quickly identify (and visually see) how much tension was present really helped them slow down and feel into their emotions. As the sessions progressed, I introduced mindfulness techniques for them to practice between sessions. These techniques boosted their self-confidence, and when they saw evidence of their improvement on the HeartMath graphs, it validated their work even further.

With phones, computers and array of technology getting in the way of connection with our partner, HeartMath technology can be an effective, non-invasive way for couples to gain awareness and motivation to change.

For help with utilizing HeartMath technology to improve your communication and intimacy, contact Clodagh O’Herlihy at The Couples Center. She has both San Francisco and South Bay offices!

Clodagh O’Herlihy, MFT

Clodagh is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a master’s degree in Integral Counseling Psychology from California Institute of Integral Studies. She is also a certified clinical hypnotherapist by the national board of hypnotherapists. Her work explores the relationship between the mind, body, and spirit. To this end, she incorporates an array of influences: EFT (Emotionally Focused Therapy), Gestalt therapy, mindfulness therapy, hypnotherapy, and Hakomi therapy. Read More

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