July 1, 2024

Healing from Betrayal Trauma with Kelly Bourque

Couple healing from betrayal trauma in couples counseling


Episode Summary of “Healing from Betrayal Trauma with Kelly Bourque”

Welcome to a very special episode of The Communicate & Connect Podcast titled “Healing from Betrayal Trauma with Kelly Bourque.” Before we dive in, remember to take our ARE quiz based on the brief accessibility, responsiveness, and engagement scale to assess the attachment dynamics in your own relationships.

Together with our host, Dr. Elizabeth Polinsky, marriage and family therapist Kelly Bourque dives deep into how individuals and couples can emerge stronger after experiencing profound relationship challenges. Drawing parallels between emotional healing and the strengthening of fractured bones, Kelly illuminates the journey of healing, emphasizing self-compassion and the necessity of professional help. The discussion takes a special focus on military couples navigating the turbulent waters of deployment, unveiling practical strategies for maintaining emotional closeness and preparing for transitions.

We’ll also explore the emotional turmoil following betrayal, the paths to recovery, and the profound importance of not facing these hardships alone. Through insightful analogies, expert advice, and Kelly’s real-world experience, this episode provides a guide to understanding and overcoming betrayal trauma.

Healing From Betrayal Trauma with Kelly Bourque, episode 52 of the Communicate and Connect Podcast

Guest Speaker Bio

Kelly Bourque is the founder of Red Therapy Group (an EFT group practice in the Nashville, TN area). With almost 20 years of experience, she works exclusively with couples, facilitating 3-day private intensives. Outside of therapy, Kelly spends her time mentoring other therapists, managing the group practice, developing e-courses and speaking. She says therapy is her first love. 

Kelly holds a License in Marriage and Family Therapy in the state of TN and is a Certified Emotionally Focused Couples Therapist (EFCT), a Certified Emotionally Focused Individual Therapist (EFIT) and a Certified EFT Supervisor.

Want to work with her?

Episode Transcript for “Healing from Betrayal Trauma with Kelly Bourque”

Dr. Elizabeth Polinsky [00:00:01]:
This podcast is sponsored by Communicate and Connect Counseling, where we have a team of therapists who provide individual, couples, and family therapy services, all tailored to meet the needs of military and veteran families. To learn more about our services, visit www.communicateandconnect.com.

Hey, everyone. Welcome back to the Communicate and Connect podcast. This is episode 52 on attachment theory and healing from betrayal trauma with Kelly Bourque. Hi, Kelly. I’m so excited to have you on our podcast today. As you probably already know, this podcast is really focused on military couples and helping them navigate the challenges of relationships, but also in the context of all the extra stressors of military life and infidelity and betrayal trauma is incredibly, incredibly common. And so I’m really glad that you are here to talk to us about that and how military couples could heal if that is what they’re going through. Maybe we could just start and you could tell us a little bit about you and kind of your experiences and your background helping people with betrayal trauma.

Kelly Bourque [00:01:33]:
Yeah. Well, thanks for having me. I’m really glad to be here with you. And when you told me about your podcast, I was excited because I grew up in the military, and so my dad is a retired air force test pilot.

Dr. Elizabeth Polinsky [00:01:53]:

Kelly Bourque [00:01:54]:
A helicopter. So, you know, a very unique breed. But we moved every three years, and so I really know the military life, and I’ve also had several clients that are military families. And so, you know, I can speak from several angles of what it’s like to be as part of a military context. And then, of course, part of what you were hoping for and what I’m really happy to talk about is my experience and some of the resources that I have with betrayal trauma. And so I do have some ideas of why it’s so common. But I’m really, really curious about what you think as well. But, yeah, just to kind of introduce myself, I do have a group practice in the Nashville, Tennessee area, and you can find us@redtherapygroup.com so, red, like, the color. My hair is red. That’s the short answer.

Dr. Elizabeth Polinsky [00:03:01]:
I’ve always wondered that. Every time I have gone to one of your trainings, I was like, I wonder why it’s red. Glad to know.

Kelly Bourque [00:03:13]:
It’s really just, you know, I wanted it to be. I also wanted it to be easy to remember something that was non feminine. And, you know, red is the color of love, and we are a very relational based therapy group. So, anyways, as I talk today, if I mention any resource, everything that I talk about can be found on that website. So. Redtherapy.com. is really the place to go for any of the resources that I talk about. But yeah, that’s me.

Dr. Elizabeth Polinsky [00:03:45]:
I’m excited that you can bring the experience of growing up in a military family while also bringing the professional experience of being like an EFT therapist, working with relationships training and supervising therapists on how to do that. And then also you have programs specifically around betrayal trauma. So when I think of infidelity and betrayal trauma and working with relationships, you’re the first person I think of. So I’m glad you’re here. So I think when I was doing my dissertation research and it was based on attachment, one of the things that I found that was really interesting was the infidelity rates for military couples, specifically around deployment. It’s like three times the rate compared to the same. Like if you use the same nine month span and you compared deployed to civilian population, it’s like three times the rate. And so maybe we could just talk a little bit first about why infidelity is so common in general in our general population, and then maybe why it’s extra common during deployment. Well, I think for me, I’m thinking of it as a huge life stressor.

Kelly Bourque [00:05:11]:

Dr. Elizabeth Polinsky [00:05:12]:
Yeah. But do you have any thoughts on that?

Kelly Bourque [00:05:15]:
Well, as I was thinking about our conversation, I thought about, first of all, when you talk about attachment and the importance of being connected and staying close, that word close, we can think of it in so many different ways, physical and emotional. And so when I think about emotional closeness, this is a kind of closeness where, for example, my husband, I can hold him with me in my mind even if I’m not with him. It’s a very secure bond. And we had to work hard to get there. This didn’t happen out of the gate, but I’m proud of the work that we did to get here. And so this emotional closeness actually has less to do with physical proximity. And that works out well because if one of us goes on a trip or let’s say this isn’t our life, we’re not in the military. But in the military context, if you are deployed and you’re not going to physically be together for months, sometimes years at a time, how in the world are you going to be okay if you don’t have the emotional closeness in the first place? So this is what it’s like.

Kelly Bourque [00:06:45]:
Such a setup for failure couples that maybe don’t have a good model or they might not even know what they’re missing and don’t have that security, that emotional closeness that can withstand physical distance. There am I this is just. This is not based on research. This is just me thinking. But I don’t think that’s a great setup for a situation where you have to physically be separate for a long, extended time. That’s kind of my first stab at that. How does that sound to you?

Dr. Elizabeth Polinsky [00:07:24]:
Yeah, well, I think. I think that’s spot on. I was thinking about COVID when you were talking and how oftentimes, physical closeness, we think that that means emotional closeness. But as we saw during COVID so many people were physically close, and that actually caused more problems. And I think because they didn’t have the emotional closeness, and it was, like, in their face.

Kelly Bourque [00:07:55]:
Right. It was like a magnifying glass or like, oh, my gosh. And so, yeah, our, you know, as therapists, our phones were ringing off the hook during COVID Yeah, yeah.

Dr. Elizabeth Polinsky [00:08:08]:
So. So I’m thinking that the emotional closeness helps with what you described there at the beginning, with the being able to have a feeling of closeness to my partner even when they’re here or they’re not here. And I can see that, like, I think about my sister when I’m saying this. I’m very close with my sister, and we could not talk for a few. For a month, for several weeks. I don’t know. But I don’t feel less close to her when we’re not talking, because I have that feeling on the inside of the emotional closeness and the security of our relationship. And I can really contrast that to other relationships that I’ve had, that I haven’t had that same security and emotional closeness where if we were separated, I’d be the anxious one who was like, are they thinking of me? Am I still important? We’re not interacting enough. We’re going to grow apart, all of that sort of thing.

Kelly Bourque [00:09:27]:
Right. As you’re talking, something else I’m thinking about is with couples specifically, that are really relying on each other for just, you know, the emotional bond. Right. Emotional needs. I know that’s a broad thing to say, but couples, let’s just say couples that are relying on each other in this emotional way and that maintains the closeness naturally. Even if they’re physically not together, they will check in, not because they have to, but because they’re sort of compelled to. I wonder what you’re doing now. Or, hey, I was thinking about this.

Kelly Bourque [00:10:09]:
How did that go? And so there’s this kind of nurturing the relationship that happens automatically when you have that felt sense like you were talking about of closeness. It just, when we’re talking about betrayal, trauma, this is one of the things that can hurt the most with a partner that hears that their partner, you know, maybe acted in ways that they wish they would have acted with them. Right. Where there was a lot of checking in or even, I mean, there’s, like, several layers of, you know, flirtatiousness or doing something special or buying a gift. Like, all of those things. This is. This is what, you know, and in a fair, it’s such a thin slice of life. So it’s not necessarily from a secure bond, but there’s this kind of momentum of connection where the relationship is getting nourished.

Kelly Bourque [00:11:22]:
What you really hope for is in real life, where you’re sharing a house and kids and there’s job and all of the things that are really hard responsibilities. You also have that natural nurturing of the relationship where that closeness compels you to check in and. Yeah, just the things that I think a lot of people sort of have in their vision of how it should be. But it doesn’t come from making yourself. It comes from that really that emotional closeness that we were talking about in the beginning that, like, goes way deeper than whether you’re together or not.

Dr. Elizabeth Polinsky [00:12:05]:
Yes. Let me see if I can kind of repeat this back and put it in my metaphor of my sister. Like, she had a job interview, and I was thinking, oh, I wonder how her job interview is going. Like, I had the. It was already in me to be wanting to follow up with her. I’m not forcing myself, and I have other family members where I might force myself to interact with them. And so what I’m hearing is in, like a marriage, in a committed sort of relationship, that when we have that secure feeling on the inside and that emotional closeness, the relationship naturally gets nourished just because we’re feeling that together, not because we have to be working really hard and intentionally to try to make it happen.

Kelly Bourque [00:13:03]:
Yeah. It’s organic.

Dr. Elizabeth Polinsky [00:13:06]:
Okay. And so help me with this piece around. You were kind of contrasting, I think, like, what we would be hoping for in emotionally close marriages compared to what would happen in. In an affair type of relationship. So I think I might have gotten a little lost there. Can you help me with. Because that one’s not. I wasn’t quite sure if you saying that is also emotionally close, but it’s not quite the same thing.

Kelly Bourque [00:13:40]:
Well, it is confusing, and that’s part of what happens in disclosure. So when someone finds out about an affair, let’s say it’s very confusing. Right. So it’s like, wait a second. It might be you did these behaviors on paper. Right. Like, you know, let’s say you were a good enough partner. Like, you weren’t insensitive or didn’t not check in with me or not know what was happening in the family.

Kelly Bourque [00:14:16]:
And yet, how could you have such engagement or such, like, how could you be doing this over here? And so there’s huge disconnect. Right. The flip side of that could be true as well. It could be a relationship that’s like, okay, maybe we weren’t great, but, oh, my gosh, I never thought you were capable of this, where you’re doing all these kind of over the top special things for this other person. And that’s what I’ve been saying that I wanted all along. Right. So the. I think the disconnect is very, very confusing.

Kelly Bourque [00:15:02]:
And this is where, you know, you’re going to get all kinds of questions. But before I get to that part, I want to kind of maybe start to break down the disconnect. Right. And what could be happening before I get to kind of what it looks like when someone’s so confused and what’s going on?

Dr. Elizabeth Polinsky [00:15:29]:
But, yeah. So I’m hearing I could have a really great relationship and this could happen, or I could have an okay relationship and this could happen. My relationship didn’t have to be, like, bad for air quotes. And that is part of what makes it so hard and shocking and confusing for people.

Kelly Bourque [00:15:52]:
Yeah. And I wouldn’t say great. I think, you know, and that, again, that’s like, how do you define that? Right? I think this happens. It kind of turns everything upside down for people. They don’t really know what anything means anymore. You know, it could be that I didn’t think there was anything wrong. Right. Or I even felt close to you.

Kelly Bourque [00:16:20]:
I mean, and so it’s like, what was I missing? Is basically the big question, like, what’s real? What did I miss? You know, how could this never happen again? And so with the nurturing relationship or the behaviors where maybe someone is engaging romantically outside of the relationship, how could that be? If you think about this from several different perspectives, obviously, there’s the person who just found out they’re all over the place. But then from a clinical perspective, there are really several different types of motivators for affairs. So it’s really not fair to say there’s one motivating factor. Okay. Sometimes affairs are, is a person who has actually developed a very deep attachment. And so it is kind of what we were talking about, where you’re so deeply attached and you’re motivated to nurture the relationship like what we were talking about. Like you would actually want in a committed relationship. Sometimes that’s what’s happening.

Kelly Bourque [00:17:48]:
And that what a huge hurt and betrayal. Right. So sometimes this partner has actually detached from their original relationship and they are actively attaching somewhere else. Other times, it’s really not emotional. It’s kind of like a compartment. It’s a bit more sexual or physical. And not that sex doesn’t include emotion, but there is a way to engage sexually that’s not as emotional. So it’s a really different type of betrayal, if that makes sense.

Kelly Bourque [00:18:37]:
And then you’ve got people who might be really emotionally attached, but there’s no evidence of sexual betrayal. Right. And so, I mean, there’s just a million different things that could be happening and different motivators. And eventually, it’s helpful for a couple to really understand that and get clear about that. But often it’s almost impossible to do right after because it’s like a tornado. So the why is, like, too big right after. So I know I’m saying a lot. I hope it’s not overwhelming, but is it kind of making sense about the different sort of types?

Dr. Elizabeth Polinsky [00:19:31]:
And then, yeah, I’m hearing there could be a lot of reasons why there is some type of betrayal. And that there could be a lot of different types of betrayal. And that trying to figure out, like, what does it mean? Is part of what is really confusing. And then I think what im hearing at the end is we do want eventually to have answers about why did this happen and what does it really mean. But that it may be too hard, like, not to expect that for a while.

Kelly Bourque [00:20:16]:
I think that’s a good summary.

Dr. Elizabeth Polinsky [00:20:18]:
Okay, so I’m hearing at the beginning it’s a tornado. And I’m imagining if I was at the beginning, I’d want to know why right away. So maybe you could outline how we get there. Because I’m just imagining if I’m listening to this and if I’ve gone through that, I’d be like, what do you mean? I gotta wait to know.

Kelly Bourque [00:20:42]:
So, yeah. And I think that’s, you know, it’s. I have such compassion, Liz. I have such great compassion. I’ve seen I can, like, literally picture the face of people in my office with big, wide eyes. And, like, I have no. I don’t know which meal. I don’t know if I’m safe.

Kelly Bourque [00:21:06]:
And I have no idea what to do next. And they’re looking at me like, just tell me. Just something. Tell me. And there is a trauma response to discovering a betrayal. And so, I mean, that’s why I created the betrayal trauma video series that I did, because I just felt like these partners that were sort of in the wake of this, like, needed something more between sessions, you know, and I wanted something that was, like, more from an attachment lens. The video series really does help to kind of slow down, from a neuroscience perspective, what’s actually happening in your brain and body that’s making you feel so crazy that you’re not crazy, actually. There really is logic, like, emotional logic, behind your responses.

Kelly Bourque [00:22:18]:
And so, yeah, but I think just maybe a first step is actually just understanding what’s happening to you. Does that make sense? Because I think when you can start to see yourself a little bit differently, it’s a bit grounding. So then you don’t stay as stuck, not saying it’ll never happen, but you don’t stay as stuck in the spiral of trying to find out the why, for example, or constantly searching the Internet for, like, again, some version of why does that make sense? Like, it’s. That does make sense. Why that, you know, why you would be responding that way, but it will often just lead you down a darker hole. So just knowing that people, you know, people in your position, this is what they do, and this is usually, you know, the good reason that they do it. Just that alone is like, okay, right. Yeah, I can kind of ground myself here, you know? And then there is.

Kelly Bourque [00:23:38]:
I mean, this is all covered in the video series, but there is a period of time of, like, what do I do about my relationship? You know, do I want to stay in? Do I want to work this out? Do I want to separate? Do I want a divorce? What do I tell the kids? I mean, there’s all these huge decisions, but then you’re in an emotional tornado. So how can you make these decisions?

Dr. Elizabeth Polinsky [00:24:05]:
Yeah, very hard.

Kelly Bourque [00:24:07]:
Very hard. So I think there’s just a lot of compassion that, yes, these are important things, but there are incredible resources where you don’t have to be alone in that. Right. Nobody can make those decisions for you, but you can at least have somebody walking alongside you validating what’s happening as you see yourself responding in ways that don’t feel like yourself. I would recommend that whether it’s my betrayal, trauma video series, or someone else’s, it doesn’t matter, but I would recommend. Go ahead and just make sure that you’re not alone in it and maybe something that’s more professional, not just a friend. I’ve heard before that people resent having to have something because they didn’t ask for this. And I get that.

Kelly Bourque [00:25:05]:
I get that. Amen. 100%. It’s not fair. And that’s not going to really help. You can be validated to that and still, you don’t need to be alone in it.

Dr. Elizabeth Polinsky [00:25:22]:
Yeah. Yeah. I’m just thinking about. I’ve heard people, both clients and people that I’ve known in my personal life, who would say something like, I can’t tell anybody about this, you know? And I’m just thinking, like, gosh, that would be so much harder. It’s already hard. It’s already painful, but to then not have anybody else other than my partner, who is the one who hurt me. And now I’m. So now I feel really, really by myself.

Kelly Bourque [00:26:01]:
Right. It is so isolating. That’s really common. There’s a lot of shame attached to it. And so. And you don’t know who you can trust with that information. You know, how, and you don’t. Sometimes people don’t want to sort of ruin their partner’s reputation.

Kelly Bourque [00:26:20]:
You know, I think in a military context, it’s super tricky. You know, it’s a small world. Right. And so you have to be careful. And, yeah, all of this is really, you know, normal and valid, you know, so all the more reason to. And I think that’s okay if you don’t. If you have to be kind of careful about who you tell, you know, that makes sense. But, yeah, just making sure that you don’t give up and just stay in isolation.

Dr. Elizabeth Polinsky [00:26:58]:
Yeah. So, like, if you do, I’m just thinking if you do have a friend or family member that you felt like you could trust, you could go to them. But I’m hearing, like, they’re a therapist, maybe, or there are groups of some kind that might be helpful.

Kelly Bourque [00:27:16]:
Yes, yes. I think obviously, you. Ideally, you would want just like, a non therapist person that can just, like, have your back, right? Just like, let you cry or, you know, I don’t know, watch a movie together or just whatever it is that you need, everybody needs that person. So if you have that person, like, reach out, reach out, reach out. And assuming that person is not trained, and even if they are, you need them as your friend. Like, let’s say you have a friend that’s a therapist. You really need them as a friend. In addition to that, finding some kind of a professional resource, it doesn’t have to be therapy per se, but something that is sort of curated by a professional that has experience with this and it’s coming from evidence based practices, then that will give you the added support that you need, at least in the beginning.

Kelly Bourque [00:28:26]:
Right. I think a lot of people in the beginning stages, they don’t even know what they want in terms of therapy. Like, should I get an individual therapist or a couples therapist or both? Should I be in a group? You know, so it’s like, this is very overwhelming. We are running a group right now, and the person on my team that’s running this group is using my video series, and it’s a small group, and it is. This specific group is limited to women. That’s not to say that it’s just for comfort level for the group, but obviously this happens to everybody. And so I don’t want to send that message. But, yeah, something like that can be really helpful where it’s not just the information, but it’s being with other people that are in sort of a similar boat and just people that get it.

Kelly Bourque [00:29:26]:
People where you can sort of be seen and, yeah, there’s something really magical that can happen in that kind of a setting. In the past groups, I’ve known people to sort of stay connected even after the group is over. And they, you know, it’s like a real connection is made. So it goes beyond, like, the thing that brought you together. Right. It’s just a sweet connection that’s made. So, yeah, those can be really, really powerful. I know that’s vulnerable, too.

Kelly Bourque [00:30:05]:
I know that people, I think in any group, especially small group setting, you should be able to reach out to the group facilitator and just ask questions. You should never be expected to just sign up without maybe addressing some of your concerns. So if that’s. You just know that there’s always, like, little steps that you can take before taking a big step.

Dr. Elizabeth Polinsky [00:30:34]:
I’m hearing that that beginning, like, that initial period of the tornado is very confusing, and it takes a while for the tornado to calm, and there’s a lot of decisions that need to be made and probably a lot of support to get through that kind of crisis. Tornado time point. And I’m thinking some people may decide to stay in the relationship and try to heal in some way, and other people might decide to separate from their relationship. But then I’m thinking that also still involves healing, like trying to heal to then be in a new relationship one day. So I’m curious, like, what you might tell these two different groups of people about. Like, I’m just thinking if it were me, I might even be wondering, like, can this actually be healed both at an individual level and in a couple?

Kelly Bourque [00:31:42]:
Absolutely. And you’re dead on about healing has to happen regardless of the decision that you make. Let’s say you decide to leave the relationship, that is a huge loss, even if it’s the right decision and you don’t want to be in the relationship anymore. This is not what you envisioned when you got together. It’s a huge loss, and it’s really normal. Whether you’re healing and staying together or healing and not choosing to continue with the relationship, it’s normal to really question what it says about you. And those are deep, hard questions. Right.

Kelly Bourque [00:32:33]:
And so that is kind of a. Another level of healing. It can be really beautiful, wonderful work either way. It can be, you know, nobody asked for this. Nobody would wish this on anybody. But it’s true. You really can come out stronger. I so hesitate to say that, Liz, because I know that someone who’s in the thick of it, that sounds like, what are you talking about? I can’t survive.

Kelly Bourque [00:33:09]:
You know, like it almost feels dismissing in a way, you know? But then I think about people who need to hear the hope. And I’m not just saying this. I’ve seen it, right. I’ve seen people come out stronger, whether that means in the relationship or not. Either way, I have seen people come out stronger. There’s a analogy that a therapist that we both know, Katherine ream, the EFT trainer in Washington, Baltimore, she talks about bones that are fractured when they heal. If you look at them where it was fractured after it’s healed, it’s literally stronger in that place. And I just think, of course it is.

Kelly Bourque [00:34:06]:
Right? Like, whatever works in biology or in nature, the truths of that are also. Why wouldn’t that be true emotionally as well?

Dr. Elizabeth Polinsky [00:34:18]:
Yeah. Yeah. I’ve heard her share that, and that has given me hope. I know. And also working with couples where this has happened. So I’m hearing it can feel like, what are you talking about? Can it really be stronger? But I’m hearing that it is possible for you to feel healed and feel stronger, either individually or in the couple relationships. And so I’m thinking the next question might be for somebody. Well, how on earth am I supposed to get there? I don’t know if you have it.

Dr. Elizabeth Polinsky [00:35:03]:
I’m sure it’s a unique path for everybody. So I don’t know if you have thoughts on that.

Kelly Bourque [00:35:11]:
But, yeah, I would say how to get there. Yes. That’s very unique. And case by case, you know, short answer, not alone. Right. So whether that’s professional help or at the very least, don’t isolate you can’t not face this. You have to move in and through it. Even if you didn’t ask for it.

Kelly Bourque [00:35:44]:
There’s no way you can be stronger if you just skip past it or don’t talk about it or try to distract yourself. Like, you will break down eventually. It’ll show up later. It just doesn’t actually work. So you have to move in and through this. And the best way to do that is with someone else, not alone. And then the other thing that I would say is, you know, give yourself a lot of compassion and grace and take the pressure off for what that looks like and how long it takes. You know, even if we were talking about being stronger on the other side, I thought that I had was.

Kelly Bourque [00:36:31]:
But it’s not like you forget. It’s not like you. And even that you might still get triggered after you’re healed. You might have something that reminds you, and you might need reassurance, and that’s okay. That doesn’t mean you never healed. It just means it’s a wound. And I think about. So I have a son who had surgeries when he was an infant and had three surgeries in the same place.

Kelly Bourque [00:37:12]:
And so he has this scar on his back. So it starts right under his armpit, and it goes all the way to the middle of his spine. And I love to run my finger over that scar because there’s something about it I don’t actually want to forget. There’s something about it that. I mean, it was the most horrific time in our lives, right? I didn’t know if he was going to make it. But seeing the scar helps me remember we survived that. It did happen. It was real.

Kelly Bourque [00:37:57]:
He’s okay now. I’m okay now. So it’s like, the scar will always be there. It’s also sad, you know, I can’t see the scar and not sometimes feel some, depending on the day. Right? And that’s, again, like, if you take the analogy to another level, like scar tissue, if it’s, like, raining outside, you know, your body does weird things or something like that, but you might get triggered in the future, and it kind of inflames the scar. And so it’s not without maybe ongoing grief, but in a romantic relationship, if this is a healing that’s done together in the future triggers, you now can turn to each other. You can receive comfort, support, and there’s no timeline for that. There’s no, like, you should be over this, you know? And then if.

Kelly Bourque [00:39:05]:
If you’re not together and you decide to move on, you know, this is something that you can do for yourself. This is something that you can reach out potentially to, you know, the next partner or a close friend or just anybody in your life that you trust and feel close and connected to. So no matter what, it’s not forgotten. Right. The scars there, you might still feel it later, but you can do something with it that actually, again, it’s that stronger thing where it’s like, this isn’t going to destroy me and I know what to do and I’m okay.

Dr. Elizabeth Polinsky [00:39:51]:
Yeah. I really appreciate you adding this context of, like, what is healed. Healed isn’t as if it was never there. Healed is knowing that I did survive it. I’m not dying because of this. It’s not ruining me. And for, I’m hearing for relationships, it’s that we can turn towards each other and get reassurance or comfort whenever the triggers come up. That would be like a sign of the strength of the relationship when that happened.

Kelly Bourque [00:40:30]:

Dr. Elizabeth Polinsky [00:40:32]:
Yeah. Well, I’m also thinking about time, and I seem to be bad with time everywhere in my life. But I’m wondering if you have any kind of final tips or words of advice for military couples or individuals, spouses that are sort of trying to figure out what they’re. Yeah, go for it.

Kelly Bourque [00:40:58]:
Well, I’ve got some super practical ones. I thought about this, and specifically with military couples. So where we are in Tennessee, we have a military base in Clarksville, Tennessee, and I’ve had a few of my therapists work there. And what we found is, and we also do intensive. So this is like three day therapy. So it’s kind of trying to condense, you know, maybe three or six months of therapy in three days. So very popular for military couples, for obvious reasons. Right.

Kelly Bourque [00:41:34]:
Let’s get. Before you’re deployed, however, we’ve had to really help them adjust expectations. So if, you know, if you are in a romantic relationship in the military and you’re looking for something like this where you think you can just kind of, you know, shove it all in real quick before you get deployed, like, I would say, just like, yes, it’s an amazing option. And keep in mind, this kind of work takes a lot of repetition and it takes really intentional follow up. And so be careful with intensives. You know, if you do do intensives, make sure that you have some way to do follow up work. I think virtual options are amazing. I know that the, you don’t have as much restrictions with military families, especially if you’re on a base, is what I’ve heard.

Kelly Bourque [00:42:41]:
And so there’s great options there. So I would just. Yeah. Adjusting the expectations for some of those, like, workshopy type of resources. So that’s my first one, my second bit of advice, and this is one that, oh, it comes from all kinds of places. I think maybe some of this comes from growing up in a military family. My dad would go for months on end. Tdy do, you know, very duty.

Dr. Elizabeth Polinsky [00:43:16]:

Kelly Bourque [00:43:17]:
I mean, the listeners know exactly what that is, but. And when he would come back, I mean, we would be in this groove, right? Like, we’ve got our thing going. We know who does what when. It’s like this kind of. Yeah. Groove. And he would want to sort of, like, just click right back in. And we were like, no, you know, if I’m a teenager, you can’t tell me what to do.

Kelly Bourque [00:43:48]:
You weren’t here. You don’t know the rules anyways. Right. So these big transitions, and I think, you know, so that’s coming from a kid’s perspective, but then I’m imagining a romantic relationship. Relationship. You know, for the person who’s home, they kind of have to compartmentalize in a way in order to tolerate not having your partner. Right. And kind of running the show at home.

Kelly Bourque [00:44:23]:
And then when you have this transition where, yes, maybe you’ve really missed each other and maybe you do want to kind of click back in and reconnect, but it doesn’t just happen. I would say it’s really important to name it. Expect that. Name it. If you are on the same page about, transitions are hard and they’re part. They’re. They’re just part of being in a military family. Like, you’re going to have more transitions than you want.

Kelly Bourque [00:44:54]:
It’s not just day to day transitions. Right. It’s like months of a transition. You have to name that and you have to have that conversation and not expect it to just things to just click back into place.

Dr. Elizabeth Polinsky [00:45:12]:
Yeah, I love those tips. And I’m just thinking, I find myself thinking as you’re talking about that the emotional closeness and the being able to turn towards each other somehow during those transitions, I’m imagining is just to bring it full circle.

Kelly Bourque [00:45:32]:
Thank you. And I think that’s even more important. Right. Because it wouldn’t actually work if you weren’t emotionally close in the first place. Right. And so that emotional closeness, that connection gives you the ability to use these kinds of tips. So if you’re close and connected and you might say, hey, this is usually hard. Let’s figure this out.

Kelly Bourque [00:46:03]:
You can probably do that pretty easily. But if you’re not emotionally close and connected and you say, hey, this is really hard, let’s figure this out, that might be a fight. It might trigger each other. What are you talking about? It’s hard. I think it’s fine. What are you talking about is fine? It’s not fine. You know? So, yeah, the emotional closeness is really like bedrock.

Dr. Elizabeth Polinsky [00:46:29]:
Yeah. Great. I’m glad we can tie it back to where we started in some way. So if somebody listening wants to work with you, like, what are the options? So I’m thinking there’s. There’s like, therapy, probably in Tennessee. There’s the intensive that they could travel to. There’s your. Your groups and your videos. Yeah. Could you help lay out the options for them in case anyone listening? And I’ll include the links in the show notes for anybody who’s listening and wants to get in touch.

Kelly Bourque [00:47:00]:
Yeah, I appreciate that. So, to work with me specifically, I only do three day couples intensives, and that is in Franklin, Tennessee, just outside Nashville. And so I’m happy to do a consult with anybody that’s interested. Those are free. It’s a Zoom meeting where I get to see you in the same room interacting, and we just have a conversation. All of this, by the way, is on the red therapy group website. But if you want to work with me, maybe less directly, the video series, the link to that is also on the website that I talked about. And then even less directly than that, the group, which somebody on my team is leading using the video series that’s also on that website, there is a betrayal, trauma link, or tab, I should say, on the site. And then there’s drop downs and there’s options. I also have a whole team of people that do intensives, and so if it doesn’t work out to work with me, there’s other amazing options. So.

Dr. Elizabeth Polinsky [00:48:17]:
Okay, great. Yeah. So I’ll. So then I guess I’m putting the red therapy group one on the website, but I’ll make sure I list that there are all these options for working with you. Yes. So, Kelly, thank you so much for being on this podcast. I think people are going to get a lot out of it.

Kelly Bourque [00:48:35]:
I hope so. Thanks for having me. I really appreciate you and everything you’re doing.

Dr. Elizabeth Polinsky [00:48:40]:
As part of this special series on attachment in relationships, I created the ARE quiz. ​ This quiz uses the brief accessibility, responsiveness, and engagement scale, which I used in my own dissertation research and I use with each couple when I start working with them in couples counseling. This quiz helps you and your partner know how secure your relationship is, the level of distress you’re in, when you should be considering marriage counseling, and what sort of behaviors you both can work on to help promote the security of your attachment bond. Make sure to check out the show notes to download a copy of the quiz. While I am a therapist, this podcast is for educational purposes only and is not considered therapy, and it should also not be a replacement for therapy. If you think you need a professional of any kind, you should definitely of go find one. Until next time.


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    About Author

    Elizabeth Polinsky is a Certified Emotionally Focused Couple Therapist (EFT) providing EFT marriage counseling in the states of Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Arkansas, and Nevada. She also provides EFT training and supervision to therapists looking to become certified in EFT Couple Therapy. As a military spouse, she has a special passion for working with military and veteran couples, and is also the host of The Communicate & Connect Podcast for Military Relationships.


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