A wise Mind Presented by Sabino Recovery S1 EP 9

In this episode of A Wise Mind Present by Sabino Recovery, host Sam Zimmer is joined by Dr. Vicki L. Loyer Ph.D., LMFT, the CEO/President of Blue Door Psychotherapy. Dr. Loyer brings together the strength of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and the efficiency of Competency Focused Family Therapy to provide relief for families and help individuals and their families learn healthy coping mechanisms. Sam and Dr. Loyer discuss how families can care for a member of the family who is suffering from addiction and mental health issues. They also discuss the importance of healing family systems and how to improve family dynamics.

Dr. Vicki L. Loyer, Ph.D., LMFT Bio:

Vicki L. Loyer  Ph.D., LMFT, is the CEO/President of Blue Door Psychotherapy, Clinical Assistant Professor with the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Arizona, and a faculty member at Grand Canyon University.  Dr. Loyer brings together the strength of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and the efficiency of Competency Focused Family Therapy to bring relief and skills to individuals and their families. She is a contributing author to Desert Leaf Magazine, Tucson, has published articles and books on premarital relationships and youth-at-risk, and is an AAMFT Approved Supervisor and past president of the Arizona Association for Marriage & Family Therapy (AzAMFT).

Episode Transcript:

Sam Zimmer: [00:00:00] Welcome back to a Wise Mind Podcast presented by Sabino Recovery. My name’s Sam Zimmer. I am your host, and today it’s my pleasure to introduce and welcome Vicki Lawyer. She’s the president and CEO of Blue Door Psychotherapy here in Tucson. And they specialize in DBT and family therapy. Welcome, Vicky. How are you?

Dr. Vicki L. Loyer: Thank you, Sam. I’m doing well. How are you?

Sam Zimmer: I’m doing well. I’m doing well. I’m very excited that we’re able to have you here today because this topic is just something that’s so important for, you know, people who are going to treatment and just, you know, anyone who’s going through crisis when it comes to substance abuse, mental health, you know, any type of recovery really, because the family connection and, and that process and how it takes place is so important.

Dr. Vicki L. Loyer: I agree.

Sam Zimmer: So how did, why don’t you just go ahead and get started. Tell us a little bit about yourself. You know, why is this work so near and dear to you, and how did you kind of get started in on the route that you’re on right now?

Dr. Vicki L. Loyer: Okay. Yeah. Well, I started out as a professor. So I started out studying [00:01:00] families and looking at the research and what I found is that there was a real gap between the research and then the applied and what really happens.

And that became more important to me after the birth of my first daughter. I was a professor and I was the chair of the Northeast Council on Youth at Risk. And shortly after she was born, I was doing a conference keynote and saying, the most important thing in families is time with your children. And at six weeks old, my child was not with me.

So I started training and family therapy, um, to make a transition into applied work. And I worked with Maryanne Walters in DC for the family therapy practice center. And she was just a real go-getter. She was a feminist at a time when we were blaming moms for everything. She worked with Salvador Mnuchin at the Philadelphia Child Guidance Clinic, um, and came away leading the women’s project in family therapy. Um, saying that even though it takes two to tango, if one is [00:02:00] to lead and the other to follow, they’re not equal parts.

So working with her, the focus was on very chaotic families and moving away from pathology and into increasing their family strengths. And I just love that because I think most families have times when they need help, and it doesn’t mean that they’re sick, and it doesn’t mean that they’re broken.

It just means that life is tough. And she just had a wonderful way of looking at what people were doing and just expanding what they were doing well as opposed to trying to teach them all to be one model.

Sam Zimmer: Right. Yeah, no, I, I think that’s a model that’s pretty, I’ve a lot of people in different industries, what the approach is, is to focus and improve your strengths rather than to focus on the weaknesses. So I’m, it’s interesting that even in this kind of field, that that’s also consistent. So why is that so important? Like, you know, when somebody is going through crisis, I think a lot of times people think that, you know, the problem is, is just with that [00:03:00] individual, right? You know, it’s this person who’s drinking too much or doing drugs or you know, is, is depressed and anxious or whatever the case may be, and you know, a lot of people just think the family’s just kind of there in the background to support quietly, but really they have a more central role or they should, right?

Dr. Vicki L. Loyer: Absolutely. What we know about families is that they are small groups with more emotional intensity than any other small group. So there’s an increased chance for love and connection and also for abuse and, um, difficult things. So that small group is really important. Um, people recover better in the context of a small group. and in the context of a family group than they do without a supportive family.

Um, and when you look at, um, issues like stress, heart attacks, stroke, that sort of thing. Those happen to family members of people who are ill or addicted more often than [00:04:00] the ill or addicted members. Oh, right. So families end up being in sync with each other. Right. So if we don’t treat the family it, we can’t really treat the individual. and if we don’t treat the family, we don’t have a nice, solid part of our community support other parts of the community.

Sam Zimmer: Right. And by the same token, I can, I can kind of see where this is going. So like that was a great example with somebody who has a heart attack. Maybe it’s because there’s a high stress environment at home with their family, similar to somebody who turns to drugs or alcohol. Maybe there are some triggers that the family is presenting at home that if it weren’t for them, this person would’ve never turned to these substances or, you know, maladaptive coping mechanisms.

Dr. Vicki L. Loyer: Yeah, I mean there’s just so many reasons why people might turn to drugs and alcohol. Um, and some of it, if you look at the psychobiological approach, right, some of it is strictly biology. Right? That there’s going to be something that the brain is gonna grab [00:05:00] onto that’s addictive, that center part of their brain highlights, of course. Um, so. It’s the social part that, that those family members typically turn to something else to soothe rather than to resolve things between themselves. So there could be anxiety, there could be all kinds of things that are going on.

Sam Zimmer: So I’ve been through my own therapy on an individual basis, and I know that there are certain types of modalities that work. In that setting when it comes to family therapy, are there any different types of, you know, therapies or modalities that are often used or more effective with like a group in a family setting?

Dr. Vicki L. Loyer: Yeah, and so it really depends on what’s going on with the family, right? So, If there’s a lot of chaos, if there’s an addiction, if there’s something like that, um, a structural therapy is generally the most effective because it creates the most relief [00:06:00] early on. So if you think about starting with that behavior piece, helping people know who’s in charge of what, who’s on what lane, and how to keep their own lane clean, those are the most effective initial parts of family therapy. When you’re looking at addiction, the idea is that the family system as it is, has to collapse and then reorganize. So it’s more helpful. So many of the things that families dothat seem to be helpful early on in a crisis end up being part of the problem.

And so you really wanna give people permission to re-look at the situation. So there’s some structural strategic and communications theory that you package together. In that case, um, if you have people without any, Other problem, saturated situation they can go to a communications theory or something that increases vulnerability. When you have crisis, you wanna stay away from the vulnerability and into the predictability,

Sam Zimmer: right? [00:07:00] Yeah, no, that reminds me of, you know, my mom when I was first getting into treatment, um, you know, she did a lot of things that she thought were the right thing just because she was panicking. And she loved me so much. And it became clear later on that maybe some of those things were not part of the problem, but weren’t helping anyone solve the problem, I would say.

Dr. Vicki L. Loyer: Absolutely. You know, if you look at how moms are socialized this was part of Maryanne Walter’s work. So I, I use a competency focused approach, which was the approach that she developed.

Um, and at that time we were blaming people, calling them enablers, calling them codependents and all that. And she was like, that’s ridiculous. These are people doing their caring function very, very well. They’re attached to these people and they’re seeing people walk away from them. So, of course, what do you expect than for them to increase their functioning. What she would do is she would help people see [00:08:00] how now the solution to the problem is becoming the problem and that’s also some of Jay Haley’s work for strategic as well, and that’s what she did. She took the stronger models and really put them together, but in a very respectful way.

So, yeah. So moms for a long time got blamed families for a long time, got blamed. You know, they’re being codependent. And when you start looking at what happens as families start shifting, first, you’re gonna get attachment reactions, right? Crying, clinging, and protests. And if you look at the family member of somebody who’s ill or addicted, they’re unreasonable and irrational. Well those fit together. Right.

So your first thing is to calm the fear. Because once you start calming the fears, some of the, um, behavioral problems to those fears start becoming more manageable. Right.

So, um, the other thing to look at is how families are complimentary. Right and if you think about yourself dancing on a dance [00:09:00] floor and you start off in one place and you end up on a part that you didn’t expect yourself to be and they might walk back before you started, but then you end back in the place cause you’re following each other. And when one member’s ill or addicted or there’s ambiguity of what’s going on, people try to get in sync with each other and end up in the wrong place. So, The piece for families to be aware of is what is the disease, what is happening? Try to clarify it as much as they can so that then they can be prepared for what is more helpful.

Sam Zimmer: Right. And we were talking about this a little bit before we started recording, um, and I really like that analogy of, of dancing right on the dance floor. And you were saying that. You know, the unhealthy side of that is the afflicted family member, the person who’s in their active addiction is the one leading the dance, and the loved one is the one following or chasing them. But what we’ve, what you and your practice and your [00:10:00] work strive to get back towards is, you know, the mother or the, the wife, whoever is the one in the supportive role to that person who’s been afflicted with these problems, they should be the ones kind of coached up to lead the dance back to their area. Is that what you’re saying? Yeah.

Dr. Vicki L. Loyer: Right. And, and there’s so many parts of that, right? because, um, there’s so many different places where they feel invalidated, like nobody gets what’s going on. And so when you get invalidation, you also get the other half of. It’s a, becomes a power and control move of who’s gonna get heard more.

Right? And so when you can validate the family members that is that scary and they may lose their loved one and there really is nothing that they can do. To correct the loved one’s behavior. So you’re working a lot with the unrelenting crisis and the inhibited grief that D B T talks about.

Right. So Dialectical Behavioral Therapy does a really great job with family systems that are invalidating. . [00:11:00] And in that situation, you know, our first thing is to validate families and what they’re going through and their loved one. Because when you get down to it, we have an impasse.

Can you tolerate being in a family where addiction is not a possibility? Can you, can you tolerate being the family of somebody who’s addicted. Right. Yeah. So that’s the impasse and for the family members coaching them to keep this a solid, connected experience so that when their loved one does come back, they have a soft place to land.

Sam Zimmer: Right. Yeah, no, I can see how that’s so important. Because, you know, if they don’t have that, that strong support system, when they get back, then it’s just gonna be you know, the same record keeping playing, you know, and I think that’s something that we definitely try to do here at Sabino and I think we’re very successful with our, our four day family program in the fourth week of somebody stay here so that [00:12:00] um, you know, that family can start to realize if they haven’t already, cuz another thing we really suggest is that the family gets some kind of outside help earlier on from the get go when somebody comes to Sabino so that they can start to realize what are some of those changes that need to be made at home, if any. Right. Um, if any, there’s, there’s always at least a few that would be helpful for that person. But then, you know, having the opportunity for them to actually come here and kind of lay out the groundwork of how things are gonna look when, you know, the husband, the son, the daughter come back home so that everyone’s on the same page and, and confident in the plan.

Dr. Vicki L. Loyer: Yeah. As you were talking about that, I was thinking, you know, a lot of times when we see people, just before we refer them here, we’ll notice the pattern. And so sometimes the family’s not even articulating because remember it’s an ambiguous loss. Um, one of the things about [00:13:00] addiction and disorders like that is that there’s a, um, big component of hiding. Um, some might call it lying if they were not observing and describing but in some way the communication is not being really clear about what’s going on with the member.

It’s really hard to know. I, I’ll ask, I’ll see the pattern and I’ll ask parents, so how long have they been using? And the parents were like, oh, my kid doesn’t use. Oh, okay. How do you know? Oh. Because they’re always in their room. Okay. that’s a so, so not to discount the family, but that first piece is observing and describing and helping them see Nonjudgmentely not in a way that would cause more fear than there is, but just helping them notice the pattern, right?

And once they’ve noticed the pattern and they’re in a non-judgemental environment, that this isn’t about being a good enough person, right. [00:14:00] This is what the family’s dealing with. Then it’s easier for them to see where they are now and where their healthy family functions, which is usually that image they have of themselves. So if you say, ask the family, what do you like? They’ll give you this image and you’re like, mm.

Sam Zimmer: White picket fence. You know? Yeah.

Dr. Vicki L. Loyer: They used to be like that. Okay. And now it’s a little different. Yeah. So, Once they can identify what’s happening, then they can start getting a picture of where they’re going.

Right? And so by the time you guys have it, they’re starting to understand. Where they are versus where they want to be and versus where they can be given the way the family shifted. You can never go back.

Sam Zimmer: It’s interesting that there’s a, so when I used to work in admissions and you know, you’re taking somebody through their, their use history, just as an example, we’re always trained to like say, you know, take that with a grain of salt. It’s probably a little bit more, you say you’re drinking a couple drinks on the. But you’re yet, you’re coming to Sabino for your addiction issues, it’s probably a little bit more. So that sounds [00:15:00] like the family version of that hiding Right. Or under reporting. So you know, it, it can take a, sounds like it can take a keen eye or a keen ear to kind of really understand what’s going on.

Dr. Vicki L. Loyer: Yeah, and I think a big part of that is increasing the safety. Cause when people come to us, they’re feeling failed. And if you ask them about their history, they give you a history of feeling failed and of being failed. And so what I like to do is start with the competence, like the connection, like what makes you a family? What are, you know, sometimes we’ll do a Pictionary, like a picture of the family’s greatest strength. A picture of a family’s greatest challenge. Cause I want them without language to be able to see like, why are we a family and what are we going to do? Yeah. You know, it’s not about having little mini knees, right.

It’s just about we are a family with warts and bumps in the whole. All nine yards.

Sam Zimmer: So some families have maybe more warts and bumps than others. Um, [00:16:00] so there’s probably different approaches or types of therapy that are better suited for different families or different family systems. And I know that you are going to be giving, um, a talk at a, an event coming up here later this week, so I wanted to give you a chance to kind of address that part of it and, and kind of give us a little sneak preview of what that talk’s gonna be like.

Dr. Vicki L. Loyer: Yeah, I’d love to. Um, well, you know, anytime you’re delivering difficult news to people or you’re seeing patterns or they’re frightened, um, We move from connection and affiliation to power and control. Okay? So in therapy, you wanna move people from their power and control place to connection and affiliation. Because you’re never gonna win a power struggle. And humans are, um, Prewired to connect. Right. So one of the things that we might get is a high conflict family. And you know that family because they’re [00:17:00] arguing and they’re talking over each other and they’re stomping out of the room and whatnot. So when somebody’s experiencing their loved ones situation or their situation in that way, the first thing we wanna do is quiet the room because the lo, the louder it is, the less likely anybody is to hear and it’s generally out of fear. And our job is to switch it so that we can go from an either or to a both and.

Either you’re right or I’m right. Or we’re both right. Right. Like the system’s not working. You want it to be how it was and it’s not so really accepting the, the grief, but the loud, the louder the people are, the more you know what’s going on for them. So I think sometimes clinicians will allow people to like just fight in their room, but what happens is it makes it unsafe for some of the members.

So you really want somebody to become vulnerable. You really [00:18:00] want to make it. So your early steps in a conflict habituated family is to really quiet the room down. Again, very structurally working in the room to allow people to learn the skills they need to not be afraid. And sometimes, I was gonna make a real judgment there, maybe this is not true, but it seems like men have a harder time admitting fear.

Sam Zimmer: I would say that’s definitely true. I think it’s probably gotten a little bit better, but it’s still probably compared to women. Definitely true, right?

Dr. Vicki L. Loyer: Yeah. Yeah. Thank you.

Sam Zimmer: Yeah, of course.

Dr. Vicki L. Loyer: Yeah. So you’ve get that like real big Brava. Yeah. And there’s that temptation for them to take up lots of space in the room.

And the job is to help them tolerate not being the most right present person in the room. And once they start, um, not being as, The fear starts coming up and the thing they’re most afraid of comes up and the grief comes up. So [00:19:00] with high conflict families, again, it’s gonna be to quiet the room, to move from power and control to connection and affiliation and to give them skills immediately. Cause you’re taking away their primary strategy. Which is to be mad.

Sam Zimmer: So one thing I heard you say was that sometimes a clinician will allow them to. From the onset just to kind of get a better idea of what’s going on. But if I’m hearing you correctly, that’s not necessarily what your approach would be because it sounds like whether or not the clinician allows it to happen, it all kind of comes out in the wash eventually.

Dr. Vicki L. Loyer: Yeah. So be really aware that it’s okay to shuffle clients. So if one person can’t not be highly conflicted, then you can work with that one person until they get enough skills to be in the group.

Sam Zimmer: Okay. I understand.

Dr. Vicki L. Loyer: Right. But you don’t want to oppress any one member of the [00:20:00] group. And the person possibly with the addiction, maybe the least able person to really speak their mind they might depend heavily on the substances to speak for them. Cause once they’re out, they’re out.. So, um, really making sure that people are heard the way they need to be heard and that you’re working with that dialectic, that the louder you are the least I hear.

Sam Zimmer: Right, okay.

Dr. Vicki L. Loyer: You know?

Sam Zimmer: Gotcha.

Dr. Vicki L. Loyer: Um, yeah, so the other thing that happens is invalidating systems. Oh, it’s not that bad. And you do get that a lot. No, no, they’re, they. I had one parent tell me, you know what? She keeps saying that she’s on drugs, but she’s not.

Sam Zimmer: Is that, cuz there’s a certain amount of, like, shame from the parent is like, well this is a human being that I raised and if I admit that they’re, you know, in this situation, then it reflects poorly on me. Is that part of what [00:21:00] takes place there?

Dr. Vicki L. Loyer: I think it could be. Also think sometimes people are not accustomed to listening to their family members. and hearing them. Right. So somebody will say, I’m hungry, and somebody will say, well, you just ate. That doesn’t change whether I’m hungry.

Yeah. And so really looking at, sometimes I think with invalidation, it’s a lack of skill. Or it’s fear that if I hear something I don’t want, I don’t know how to manage my own experience with that. So I’m gonna force my will on you. Because I know how to deal with that. And sometimes if I can and be invalidating enough and start a fight, I know how to do fighting. I dunno how to do sad.

Sam Zimmer: Let’s take it into my arena. The fighting arena. Yeah. Yeah. Right,

Dr. Vicki L. Loyer: right. So they’re like taking a football to a base diamond, right? Yeah. And you’re like, no, no, no, no.

Sam Zimmer: Still gonna lose that game.

Dr. Vicki L. Loyer: you confused which game you’re playing. So with validating, it’s really teaching people to look at each other when you’re talking. I think, [00:22:00] you know, positive, overriding sentiment is probably the most important thing. in that situation. Like, I can’t invalidate you if I look directly in your eyes. And if I hear you saying I’m hurting, I really can’t say, no, you’re not. The education part is somebody, somebody’s teach me what to say when I can’t do anything and I’m a fixer.

Sam Zimmer: Yeah. So that’s conflict style of like family, what, are there any others that are pretty common?

Dr. Vicki L. Loyer: The other is the problem saturated family. And that’s a family. When, when they come in, they have a list of everything that’s gone wrong and you’ll hear them saying, well, and then this happened, then this happened. Then, um, they didn’t come over like they did the dishes, but they left, you know, bunch of water on the sink. And so it’s just like on and on. Problem saturated. The other side of unrelenting crisis is inhibited grief. So anytime we’re hearing like on and on and on about all the [00:23:00] problems, and people do have financial problems, people have health problems. If you have a place to live, you have problems fixing it. If you don’t have a place to live, you have other problems. Like problems are part of being alive, right? And sometimes people spend so much time solving the problems that they forget to look at what’s causing all of these problems to pop up, right?

So the minute you start hearing. Tons and tons of problems. You start looking for, what’s the theme, right? like if you look at how women process panic, uh, and again, a lot of this stuff is ambiguous loss. Like we don’t know what’s happening. So women experiencing themselves as panicking, they’ll start tending and mending. They’ll start seeing everything in great detail, and that’s like, you know, moms will like start picking, lint off their kids clothes. Dusting and all that kind of stuff, right? Yeah.

Sam Zimmer: So, [00:24:00] so that’s interesting cuz like, um, when you talk about, like, when somebody really hones in on each specific problem, it almost seems like when they do that, they’re ignoring like the big problem. Like, you know what I mean? It’s, it’s just kind of like a coping mechanism for that person almost.

Dr. Vicki L. Loyer: Yeah. And they don’t realize they’re ignoring the problem. And that’s, I think that’s the harder piece is you don’t realize that you’re ignoring it.

But what we see as a symptom is unrelenting crisis, we see each thing being noticed being a problem. And what it does is it takes the people’s attention. Each of these things. So, you know, their house might be on fire, but they’re watering their flowers.

Sam Zimmer: Right. So it kind of, it stops them or um, gets in the way of them getting to that point where they can like grieve what the actual problem is.

Dr. Vicki L. Loyer: Right. Got it. See it and grieve it. So as long as they’re staying busy right. Then they don’t have to see what they’re [00:25:00] dealing with. So most of therapy is not problem solving for people, it’s helping ’em set up the problem. Right. So if you think back to math class, if somebody gave you an equation, you’d solve it, but somebody, um, gave you a story problem that’s usually harder for, right? And therapy is like somebody comes in with a story problem, they come in with a proposition of what’s going on. But we listen for the patterns and I listen for, you know, are you counter complaining? Are you bickering? Are you. Those kind of things. Are you turning completely away from them and not even paying attention, or are you just coming up with your own list? Do you listen for that pattern as they give you the proposition, you hand them back what they think is happening, plus what the change agent is?

Sam Zimmer: I really like that, that analogy to a word problem in math, because there’s always a few sentences in there that are irrelevant. They’re just kind of thrown in there to throw you off. It’s like, is this important or is it not important? [00:26:00] Right. So all of that oversaturation is that two or three sentence in that word problem. You know, talking about math class, that doesn’t matter. It’s not the root of the problem. It’s just kind of like background noise almost.

Dr. Vicki L. Loyer: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. I was just working with a couple and it had that essence of just. The total list of what was going wrong. And the bottom line is for this couple is there’s an addiction. and the person with the addiction doesn’t know if they wanna recover or if they wanna go into treatment or whatever, and the person without the addiction wants to go back to what the marital rules were.

Right. Right. We have this sober household. , and so all of the stuff gets thrown in there and the problem is do you wanna recover? And do you wanna be in a situation where you’re always looking over your shoulder, right? About whether your member’s recovered? Right. And we all know there’s gonna [00:27:00] be the commitment for the person addicted if they are or not, and they have to choose.

Sam Zimmer: Yeah.

Dr. Vicki L. Loyer: And the family has to decide, are you in it for the long haul? And that means no blaming, no shaming, like you’re taking on the respons. For your own emotional safety, right? You’re not doing, you’re not having vulnerabilities that aren’t wise at this point.

Sam Zimmer: So your job as a therapist in that situation is just to get them to that point where it’s like, actually, this is the only problem. You know, the dishes, you know, the lying, whatever. Like we understand that that’s. We’re not okay with that. But the root of the problem is, are you willing to get better and are you willing to be in this long haul and accept this person? Yeah. And that’s when, that’s when it gets real. That’s when,

Dr. Vicki L. Loyer: that’s when you give him phone numbers, , you have the pamphlets and you’re like, here are your choices.

And you know, to the family’s credit, the family therapist is their first [00:28:00] step, right? Yeah. And so like they come, they come in, well actually the physician is their first. Get a lot of referrals from PCPs. Who don’t know right. What to do. Uh, some family, friends, that kind of thing.

And they come in and they’re both scared and and upset and they want help. And so always going for that connection. Like, people don’t come into therapy because they didn’t have a better way to spend a couple hundred dollars so we really wanna appreciate, you know, sometimes people. We’ll blame families or they’ll blame the system, or they’ll blame the addict.

There’s no blame here. This is life. Like you don’t blame people for having a heart attack. Right. Don’t blame people for becoming diabetic. You don’t blame people for having their reactions.

Sam Zimmer: Yeah. So in a past relationship, I did couple’s therapy and it, it was so. it was, you know, cuz you see it in like pop culture and movies and stuff where it’s like super conflict oriented and it’s like who’s gonna be right? Who’s gonna be [00:29:00] wrong? But just getting them to a place. And we eventually got there where it was like, we’re here cuz we need help and we want, you know, it’s not about pointing fingers, it’s about how can we move forward? And I think probably a large part of your skills as a family therapist is just getting past we’re coming here to figure out who’s right and who’s wrong. To like, no, we’re actually in this together and we need help. Where do we go from here is probably the hardest. And once you get there, then it’s, then it’s gonna sink or swim and for better or worse, but until you get to that point where it’s, you know, we have the right motives for why we’re here, we’re on the same page until you get there. There’s really not a lot that can be done. It sounds like.

Dr. Vicki L. Loyer: Yeah. And so really focusing on that connection first, whoever walks in the door, it’s the connection. Like, why are you a couple? What do you like, what’s your goal ahead? Because the solution to the problem doesn’t look like the problem. [00:30:00] And as soon as we get that view changed, And even if it is addiction and control and that sort of thing, we’re going for the connection. We’re not going for the power structure. Right? Yeah. And when you’re in an interdependent relationship, you will do things that you would not have done ordinarily because doing them makes your partner’s life easier, right? Yeah.

Sam Zimmer: So yeah, so we got conflict. We got. It’s problem saturated. And what’s the other one that

Dr. Vicki L. Loyer: Invalidated.

Sam Zimmer: Invalidating.

Dr. Vicki L. Loyer: And I think invalidating as a culture, as a Anglo, white, Anglo culture. , I think that is one of our hardest pieces. And so I can’t speak for all of the other cultures although I tend to see it in families from all different corners. Um, that we know what we want our children to do and we want our spouses to do and what we believe is right.

And when they [00:31:00] tell us something that’s different, we wanna tell ’em that they’re wrong. So we want them to feel good and they tell us they don’t feel well. We’re like, oh, I think you’re fine. They scrape their knee, oh, you didn’t get hurt. You know, like that kind of thing.

And it translates into relationships where I’m trying to tell you I’m struggling and you’re telling me that everybody at that age struggles. And I’m like, no, it’s a different kind of a struggle. So what you get is then an inaccurate communication because I have to. Really blow up what I’m saying, blow it out of proportion to get your attention.

Sam Zimmer: Right.

Dr. Vicki L. Loyer: Right. And so that’s probably the easiest one to fix. And it’s the hardest one to notice. And so again, you just like looking at each other’s eyes, validating them, and then dealing with what comes up. Yeah, because that’s their truth.

Sam Zimmer: So I was talking, it’s so funny that we’re doing this today cuz last night I was talking to a friend [00:32:00] about him and his relationship with his girlfriend and where they were like disconnecting. I was trying to help him and he was saying she’s coming to me with these problems where, you know, it seems like she’s, you know, kind of acting impulsively and you know, making decisions based off of emotion and I’m over here you know, telling her logically how to solve these problems. And I heard somewhere, and I don’t want to the same way you were hesitant to say that men were, um, I forget exactly what it was, but men in the room are big in the room.

Don’t admit fear. I hesitate to bring this up too, but it’s something I’ve heard a couple times where men are just hardwired to be more logical. Right. And the way they approach things where women, I don’t know what the right word is, is just react a little bit more based off of like emotional yeah. So I imagine that’s kind of a tough bridge to gap in in your therapy sometimes. And I wanted to know if maybe you wanna speak on [00:33:00] that a little bit?

Dr. Vicki L. Loyer: Yeah, I mean, really good point. So that in everything, we’re looking at culture, right? And now you’re men’s and women’s culture. We’re looking at some of the biology there too, right?

So men tend to go A to Z and if you think Hunter Gather, they’re taught to go out, get the food, and come back. Right? Um, and so that’s a very, you know, Primitive way to think about it, right? But we think about how you’re wired. So John Gottman looked at how women and men fight, hooks them up to galvanic, skin response, heart monitor, all kinds of things, had them argue. And what they found is that men flood very quickly. So all women has to do is say, I wanna talk to you. And boom, they flooded. And it actually physiologically starts shutting them down to fight flight or freeze

Sam Zimmer: for men or for women?

Dr. Vicki L. Loyer: For men.

Sam Zimmer: Okay. Gotcha. Right.

Dr. Vicki L. Loyer: So when men hear something, they try to problem solve it.

Sam Zimmer: So that doesn’t get to that point where they have to go there. Yeah. Or

Dr. Vicki L. Loyer: that, [00:34:00] that is their parent response. Right? Yeah. They’re, they’re fleeing like, okay,

Sam Zimmer: This is ringing very true. I can almost feel it, right. I’m just kidding. But yeah,

Dr. Vicki L. Loyer: no, it’s, it’s very true. And you can see it happening in the room.

Now, if you think about how women, um, have been taught to do things, they tend and mend. They kind of form a circle and they think about things over and over and over. And if you think about like a horse in an arena being trained. , they will do the big circles, but they will do small circles each time they kinda get stuck. the trainer will pull them in small circles to get that corrected. That speed corrected. So women try to do that with their partners. Now, women. Um, when they panic, they go into shallow breathing so they can panic and come back, panic and come back. Very much like a sexual response cycle. Right. Got it. That the orgasm experience for women and men come out in the fighting. Interesting. Yeah. [00:35:00] So with women, They will, um, chew on things for a really long time. They’ll bring back to their partner. It doesn’t mean they’re looking for a solution. Their mind is still wrapping around it.

Men will hear it, it will raise their anxiety. They’re like, here’s a solution. Go. Yeah. But women are like, well, what about the, so what I try, well first it’s psychoeducation that people have to learn that women and men, as much as they try to understand their partners, they’re still biologically the woman or the man, no one understand. Even as I’m saying this, I’m like, I know there’s an LGBTQ plus whole arena, right? So I wanna clarify that. I’m talking about biologically, if you look at, um, kind of graphs, there are outliers, there are middle parts. So I wanna acknowledge the differences.

Sam Zimmer: Talking more general sense.

Dr. Vicki L. Loyer: Yeah. So this is very general. Um, cis men, cis women, um, and how they would be responding. And I would expect in my office if a white, [00:36:00] if a woman has a complaint, I will see the man’s face flat flush. I will see the muscles tighten, they’ll hold their breath and right then I know that they’re going into flooding and I will have to do some soothing work. Get them to, uh, soothe with their senses, do some breathing, stay present and become accustomed so they don’t have to solve it right now. It doesn’t mean that they won’t feel the urgency to solve it. But it means we know we need to kick into soothing. For the woman, oftentimes we have to talk about, as much as you wanna talk with your partner, you can’t hand him anxious things and then expect him to just let it be. Cause he’s not hardwired that way. And so for women, they have to say to their partner, I don’t want a solution, and I’m in the middle stages of mulling this.

Sam Zimmer: Communication. Yeah. Yeah. That’s the biggest part.

Dr. Vicki L. Loyer: To see whether, and then the partner can say whether he can or [00:37:00] cannot do that at the time.

Sam Zimmer: But yeah. Yeah. That’s very interesting. I’m glad I asked that question. Learned a lot right there. Yeah. And I’m telling. You know, my past experience doing couples therapy was like, I can feel that feeling of like just being anxious and wanting to solve it real quick. Like it took me right back there.

It’s just like she’s so Right. Yeah. No, that was very interesting. So are there any other types of, um, families that maybe are part of your talk for the, the speech hearing to be doing?

Dr. Vicki L. Loyer: I think the, the major. Part of the talk, I didn’t cover the really well functioning mm-hmm. typical families. By the time people come to therapy, usually their fear is taking over. And so we’re seeing some of the results of that power and control spectrum. Um, Your healthy families. We always wanna have people have an idea of what they’re [00:38:00] doing when they’re healthy so that they can keep doing it, right? So one of the things that we know is that people forget to have fun together.

Right. And so then there’s some of the, you know, traditional information about, have dinner together, have a meal together. People will say, well, we can’t have dinner together cause for work schedules, Americans tend to eat three times a day. If you don’t have one of those times for your family, you’re probably too busy.

Right. Um, people have to play. Right. Without, um, being entertained. So play together doesn’t mean going to the movies, that’s you’re being entertained and you’re being co entertained. Right? Right. So when you look at those things that are going to be soothing for families, like sitting down and talking and making eye contact, moving into a place where you don’t have to be right. It can be both and rather than either or, right? So people can be free to be vulnerable and to be chatting with each other. Those are the things that carry people through the difficult [00:39:00] times. So, um, there’s the overriding sentiment in families that makes a big difference. If you have somebody who looks at what their partners or their family members do and say they meant well, and this is just a blip.

Those families are gonna get through crisis much more easily than the families who look at their partners and say they meant to do this. Right. So like an example, if you know a husband goes out and washes his , wife’s car in a satisfied marriage, there’d be positive, overriding sentiment and she’d say isn’t that sweet? He just washed my car. In an unhappy relationship, there would be negative, overriding sentiment and she would say, Can you believe he’d rather wash my car than even speak to me ?

Sam Zimmer: What I was thinking is like, oh, he’s probably just making up for that remark he said yesterday. I hear that. All the, you know what I mean? Like, you know, his motives weren’t pure loving. It was just he was trying to make up for something . [00:40:00]

Dr. Vicki L. Loyer: Yeah. Which has been, you know, the complaint about, um, couple’s behavioral therapy. Mm-hmm. , you’ll hear that a lot. People will do something, they’ll say, well you did it cuz a therapist told you to, right, right.

So it just means that there’s a little work to do before you get into the couple’s behavioral therapy to make that connection, get people looking at each other in the eyes, knowing why they’re together. So a lot of times I’ll tell people, go out on dates that don’t cost anything. That you have to talk to each other and don’t talk about any problems, right?

Treat each other like you would a neighbor. You wanna get to know.

Sam Zimmer: Yeah. And that can be hard for people to do when they’ve been dating for 4, 5, 6 years. But it can kind of feel weird. But I think it’s something that’s so important cuz you can never stop learning about your partner and you know, spending good quality time like that.

Cause people do think going to the movies is like a good date. It’s not. It’s just like you’re watching a movie by yourself almost.

Dr. Vicki L. Loyer: So it’s a good other thing to do. There’s [00:41:00] a, a couple who are in the marriage enrichment area and they have a program called 10 Great Dates.

Sam Zimmer: Oh, cool.

Dr. Vicki L. Loyer: And you can still get their book.

Um, and it’s really helpful because it gives you like what to do and what questions to go over. Families can do that really easily. , right? And anytime you’ve got that connection in family, you really enjoy each other. You appreciate each other. You think the best of each other. You can get through these other places.

Sometimes people will say, oh, but he lies. I can’t do that because he’s lying All the time so I can’t trust him. And what I like people to consider is you can trust him to not tell the truth. It’s absolutely what you can trust. Right? So then you don’t have that as an expectation in the relationship.

Right. So you’re taking that, if you think about it, it’s so simple. But now I’m not gonna do 10 questions with you. I know what I know. I know where I put my vulnerabilities. [00:42:00] If I tell you I need to take out the garbage and you’re gonna take out, you say you’re gonna take out the garbage, but you never do. It’s my fault after the second, right? So I’m now with somebody who won’t take out the garbage. You just need to know that. Yeah. Maybe there’s some other talent you have. Yeah.

Sam Zimmer: That’s funny. So you’re kind of like doing a little inception on your own minds, like, well actually I can trust you, just not to do what I want you to do .

Dr. Vicki L. Loyer: Right. And then that’s such important information. Yeah. You do that really early with the families, cuz they’ll be like, I can’t trust them. You know, they took out the car and they didn’t bring it back. I can’t trust them. And I, and I would say, so what was the consequence?

Well I told them, come back earlier. Next time I’m like, they don’t come back. . How is that a solution? And so you really want people to think like, if you have an expectation that the car comes and this person has not been able to accomplish that goal.

Sam Zimmer: It’s your fault. Yeah. Don’t give a, you can’t expect them to do it. Do the right thing. Yeah.

Dr. Vicki L. Loyer: Yeah. And it’s not even the right thing. Right? It’s just that’s not [00:43:00] part of this arrangement. Right. Well, the only time I know they’re doing the right thing is when I’m seeing them. Perfect and you just bond more.

Sam Zimmer: You’re grounded, .

Dr. Vicki L. Loyer: Well, and I don’t even believe in grounding.

Sam Zimmer: Well, no, I just mean that’s a good, that’s how you’re gonna see ’em all the time, right? Yeah. Could be at the house .

Dr. Vicki L. Loyer: Yeah. And you know, you with um, people are starting to, you know, make mistakes and stuff. You’re like, bond more. Yeah. Go do things together. Well, they don’t wanna do things with their dad. That’s the consequence of doing the wrong thing. You gotta enjoy your dad. So the worst thing that’ll happen is we’ll have fun together.

Sam Zimmer: I’m, I’m glad you mentioned doing fun things together, both as couples and as families. So that’s another component of our family program is that last day, The, the loved one or the family takes ’em offsite to go do something fun.

And at that point, you know, they’ve been here for 35 or actually fourth weeks, so, you know, four weeks or so. And maybe before they came to treatment, they wouldn’t have liked going out with their mom and dad and sister. But after being here, not that [00:44:00] it’s horrible to be here, obviously, but they miss that. So they’re more kind of engaged and it’s a good kind of jumping board for them to do more stuff like that when they get home, hopefully.

Dr. Vicki L. Loyer: Absolutely. And what a better place. I mean, Arizona being able to be in the mountains like they are.. And there’s just, even taking a short hike, you’re right next to Sabino Canyon. Yeah. There’s just so much to do, right. In this thing of the woods and it’s all peaceful. Yeah.

Sam Zimmer: No, and every time we have a new guest who comes here. I know you’ve been here a few times before, but you know, taking people on tours, they say the same thing and I’m here all the time, so sometimes I take it for granted.

So every time I hear it again, I’m just like, you know what? You’re right. Like this is such an amazing place and thank you for that. For that glowing, uh oh,

Dr. Vicki L. Loyer: absolutely.

Sam Zimmer: Appreciate that.

Dr. Vicki L. Loyer: Beautiful. I love the experience people get here. Um, I’ve had a lot of clients who’ve been referred here and they’ve had a really good experience. Yeah. So I think you guys are doing a really great job.

Sam Zimmer: Well, thank you Vicky. And again, thank you so [00:45:00] much for joining us today. I think this is one of our, one of our best topics and one of our, ourbest guest here on the podcast. So you, thanks so much for coming by.

Dr. Vicki L. Loyer: Yes, you’re welcome.

Sam Zimmer: And to our listeners, thank you for listening to a Wise Mind podcast presented by Sabino Recovery. To listen to more episodes, just search a Wise Mind presented by Sabino Recovery In your chosen podcast platform, we discuss topics that can be difficult to process on a wise mind. There is no shame in seeking help. For resources or to find someone to talk to, please visit the links in the description below.