Solving the Complexity of Relationships with Philip DeLuca: Ep. 45
- Episode Topic: Welcome to Mastering Counseling, In this insightful episode, we engage the revolutionary world of relationship counseling with the esteemed Philip DeLuca, MSW, LCSW, the mastermind behind Go Beyond Talk Therapy. Philip introduces listeners to his groundbreaking UnTalk™ UnTherapy approach, which significantly diverges from traditional counseling methods. This episode explores Philip’s unique strategies for repairing relationships and improving communication and also uncovers the holistic methods he employs to address the comprehensive well-being of his clients.
- Lessons You’ll Learn: Listeners are in for a treat as the discussion will reveal how integrating the concept of “The Solo Partner” into therapy sessions can mend communication rifts between couples. This is an educational journey through the nuances of the UnTalk™ UnTherapy approach, gaining insights into its foundational principles and the transformative impact it has on relationship counseling. Further, Philip shares his expertise in tailoring therapeutic approaches to suit a wide range of clients, from children to elders, and the significance of incorporating holistic methods that harmonize mind, body, and spiritual beliefs.
- About Our Guest: Philip DeLuca, MSW, LCSW, brings to the table over 35 years of clinical experience in relationship counseling and a passion for pioneering therapeutic methods. Known for his development of the UnTalk™ UnTherapy, Philip has established himself as a leader in the field, challenging conventional counseling techniques with his unique and effective approaches. His book, “The Solo Partner,” has been instrumental in guiding individuals and couples towards repairing and enriching their relationships. Beyond his clinical practice, Philip’s dedication to holistic therapy and his innovative use of digital platforms to reach clients underscores his commitment to making mental health care accessible and adaptable to everyone’s needs.
- Topics Covered: The episode navigates through a series of engaging segments, each dedicated to a specific aspect of Philip DeLuca’s therapeutic practice. Starting with “Innovating Relationship Counseling,” listeners are introduced to the foundations and development of the UnTalk™ UnTherapy approach. The conversation then transitions to “A Holistic Approach to Therapy,” where Philip elaborates on integrating mind, body, and spiritual elements into his sessions, emphasizing the importance of a comprehensive care model in addressing stress, grief, and chronic medical issues. The final segment, “Accessibility and Adaptability in Counseling,” discusses the logistics and effectiveness of online therapy, flexible scheduling, and navigating the financial aspects of therapy. This episode is packed with invaluable insights for both counseling professionals and individuals interested in the evolving landscape of mental health care.
Our Guest: Philip DeLuca- Leading the Charge in Mastering Relationship Complexity
Philip DeLuca, MSW, LCSW, is not just any therapist; he’s a trailblazer in the field of relationship counseling, with over three decades of experience under his belt. His approach, dubbed UnTalk™ UnTherapy, sets him apart from conventional practices, offering a fresh perspective on communication and relationship repair. DeLuca’s career began after obtaining his Master of Social Work, leading him to delve deep into the intricacies of human interactions and the complexities of emotional well-being. His relentless pursuit of effective therapeutic methods propelled him to develop strategies that challenge traditional talk therapies, emphasizing non-verbal communication and action-oriented solutions. DeLuca’s work, notably through “Go Beyond Talk Therapy,” reflects his commitment to innovative counseling methods that address the root causes of relationship issues rather than just their symptoms.
Beyond his clinical practice, Philip DeLuca has contributed significantly to the field through his writing, with “The Solo Partner” being among his notable publications. This book encapsulates his philosophy and approach, offering readers practical advice on repairing relationships through self-reflection and changed behaviors rather than relying solely on dialogue. His work extends beyond couples therapy, touching on holistic methods that consider the mind, body, and spirit’s interconnectedness. DeLuca’s belief in a comprehensive approach to well-being is evident in his advocacy for integrating wellness and nutrition into mental health care, underscoring the importance of addressing physical health alongside emotional and psychological issues.
Philip DeLuca’s expertise is not confined to the therapy room. His adaptability to modern technology allows him to reach a broader audience, offering online sessions that maintain the effectiveness of his therapy in a digital format. This flexibility ensures that more individuals can benefit from his unique counseling methods, regardless of their geographical location. DeLuca’s involvement in various insurance panels and his openness to discussing financial aspects of therapy, such as self-pay and sliding scale fees, demonstrate his dedication to making mental health services accessible to all. As a seasoned speaker and educator, DeLuca shares his knowledge and insights at conferences and seminars, inspiring both upcoming therapists and those seeking to enhance their relationship dynamics. His contributions to the field of counseling and therapy underscore a career dedicated to innovation, holistic care, and the relentless pursuit of helping individuals and couples achieve lasting, meaningful change in their lives.
Philip DeLuca: When a marriage or relationship breaks up, the ripple effect is enormous. I mean, you have an effect on the children, you have people turning to alcohol, depression, promiscuous sex, you have the effect on the families, you have the finances to get breaking up. So I figured I can prevent all those ripples for every relationship I can keep together, every marriage. And that’s, for me, a lot of bang for the buck. You know, somebody didn’t commit suicide, somebody didn’t turn to alcohol, somebody didn’t have promiscuous sex and get into another bad relationship. The kids aren’t traumatized. The extended family doesn’t have to deal with who’s side, who’s right, who’s wrong, and all that kind of stuff.
Becky Coplen: Welcome to Mastering Counseling, the weekly business show for counselors. I’m your host, Becky Coplen. I’ve spent 20 years working in education in the role of both teacher and school counselor. Each episode, we’ll be exploring what it takes to thrive as a counseling business owner. From interviews with successful entrepreneurial counselors to conversations with industry leaders on trends and the next generation of counseling services, to discussions with tech executives whose innovations are reshaping counseling services. If it impacts counseling, we cover it in Mastering Counseling. So excited to have everyone back on the Mastering Counseling podcast. I’m very excited today to have someone with a wealth of knowledge and experience, 47 years in this field, who has the practice go beyond talk therapy. Phillip DeLuca, a social worker licensed and out of North Carolina. Welcome to the show today.
Philip DeLuca: Well, thank you for having me, Becky. Thank you. I had to be here. Excited to be here.
Becky Coplen: Yes. Well, I am excited to hear about your strategies, methods, and plans. So we will get right into it. You have something that’s a little bit outside the box but is working for a lot of people, the untalk-on-therapy approach. So tell us what you are doing.
Philip DeLuca: Well, basically I developed a new communication model when I got out of school, graduate school in 1977, I was practicing conventional communication models, which, as you’re aware of, are called “Express yourself and talk it through. Never go to bed mad at each other. Tell them how you feel. You’re entitled to your anger, get it out. Repressed anger skills and so on.” Well, what I discovered right out of the gate was it seemed to be making things worse. So people were coming in arguing even more. So I was like, something’s wrong here. So I spent the next 40 years trying to figure out why that doesn’t work. And even more important, coming up with an alternative that does work. So I put together my untalk-on-therapy approach, and actually, I renamed it to “Stop Talking and Start Communicating”, which sums up how best to communicate. Stop talking when you are upset. There’s the key conventional models encourage discussion, working it through when you’re upset. And now we know from the latest mind-body science is that we’re not wired that way. And if you do that, the science says at best it will have no effect, but usually it will make the situation significantly worse, in some cases, unresolvable, that could have been resolved. So I’ve been perfecting that over the last 40 years and getting really good results with people that have used conventional stuff and are at the point of getting divorced or separated and turning it around, like on the spot. I’d be happy to share that with your audience, and maybe we can rescue some relationships out there.
Becky Coplen: That would be great. I’m all about relationships being restored. Since you got into this in the late 70s, let’s kind of talk about the timeline of the process. Did you start with a group, the whole kind of path of your career, and where you’ve come now?
Philip DeLuca: Yeah, I was working in a nonprofit agency and just seeing couple after couple and things were not gelling. So I came out with a book in 96 called “The Solo Partner: Repairing Your Relationship. And one of the articles in there was on the Fight-or-Flight response, kind of a more elementary understanding of it and applying it. And then after that kind of went its way, then I said, let me zoom in on this chapter on reactivity, which was chapter three in that book. And also at the same time, I was having some health problems, autoimmune diseases. So I started researching what’s going on with that. And then I discovered the biology of disease, which is inflammation is the same exact process that occurs when we get upset. And so I combined the two and came up with a way that cools a relationship, throttles back conflict, makes people be able to get to a place where they can talk through stuff, instead of bouncing off the same wall over and over and at the same time improve their health. Because it’s all related. Stress is a killer of people’s health and premature aging, 9 to 17 years, chronic cancer.
Philip DeLuca: Here’s an interesting statistic I came across. Get in touch with your anger and get it out. The problem is episodic anger outbursts increase heart attack and stroke risk by 500% for two hours afterward. Well, I don’t know about you, but I’d like to know that little detail. Get your anger out and call the undertaker. You know, for me, I’m funny that way. I like to know about little details like that. And then, of course, arguing chronic argument creates chronic stress. Chronic stress, I mean, the statistics are horrendous. Cancer and cancer risk goes up 3,000% over time. Heart attack and stroke risk goes up 2,000%, increases blood pressure. 72% of all doctor visits are stress-related. Autoimmune, if you’ve noticed, when you’re under high stress, you lose your memory. You can’t think, so contributes to dementia. You name it, it’s got its finger in everything. So conventional approaches talk it through and express yourself. They actually encourage more inflammation in the body and more sickness. And that’s an obvious thing because you talk to anybody who’s in a chronic argument situation and they’ll have a whole list of physical problems. I can’t sleep, I got stomach aches, I got headaches, my rashes have come back. Whatever it is, it’s a huge list.
Philip DeLuca: So I call conventional communication, express yourself, approaches, the gift that keeps on giving. It’s a personal peace out of relationships. Kills caring and love, kills sex life ruins communication, and destroys their health. So it’s the gift that keeps on giving. You keep using it, and it keeps on giving back on every level. Yeah, and here’s the sad part. People are using that. Counselors are using it. Books shows nobody’s really questioned that whole model. And as a result, it’s causing a lot of couples to break up relationships to be more chaotic than they need to be. And these situations, they don’t have to break up. If they just had an approach that talked to how we are built, not go against our grain. It’s kind of like if you have a rash or something and you use it an antifungal and it doesn’t go away, then you find out it’s a bacteria that’s causing this. Let me put it on an antibiotic right away. You go away within a week or two. So it’s the same kind of thing, the thing conventional models are out of phase with the way we’re wired and the way we’re wired for relationships. So it just doesn’t help the situation. And if you hit on the core issue of how we’re wired, you can eliminate argument right out of the gate as soon as you apply it. So that’s the nice news. You can drop it back. All that chaos that I talked about earlier that chronic arguing is talking about.
Becky Coplen: Yeah, let’s talk about couples, been in more traditional modes of counseling, let’s say three years, they’re frustrated. Are the counselors then referring them out to you? Are you word of mouth? How are they getting to you? And then when they are in your office or online, what do those sessions look like?
Philip DeLuca: Yeah, counselors really haven’t bought into my approach. They’re still locked into the talk-it-through approach that came out of the 70s that was developed during the Woodstock era, 68. That was I was in New York City at the time, and I remember Woodstock, and I didn’t go up there because the state troopers were saying, hey, the Thruway is closed, don’t come up. But it was 68. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll. I mean, things got Let it all hang out was the motto people want to have sex on your front lawn. Go ahead. You’re so stoned, who cares? And it’s none of their business. I mean, people were skinny dipping in the community pools. They were streaking across the neighborhood naked, usually the women. And it was a chaotic time. So they came at this approach, let it all hang out, express yourself. There was never any science to support that. And it just caught on and everybody built on that and nobody really challenged it. So getting back to what you were saying was usually people find me because they’re like I’ve been in counseling, we’re not getting anywhere, we’re wasting our time, seems to be getting worse. And they’ll get online and they’ll see, see something on my website that says an alternative to conventional approaches. And then they’ll see my PowerPoint put out, even my website called “Stop Your Fighting Tonight.”
Philip DeLuca: And like the material, the approach basically says the focus is on the Fight-or-Flight response. So there are two parts of the brain I’d like to focus on. There’s the front brain, cerebral cortex, thinking brain, music, love spirituality. That’s our connecting brain logic. And then we have our back brain, which we share with the lower life forms our amygdala. If you put your fingers between your two ears, it’s right there. Fight-or-flight response, Dark, Bleak, Doom-gloom, Catastrophic, worst-case scenario. So what happens when we get upset? That’s a survival brain. That’s a chaotic brain. That’s a conflict-seeking seeking chaotic brain. All right? That’s really important, “Connect Brain”, “Destroy Brain”. So what happens is in between those two brains is a hypothalamus which is like a switching unit. So if you think about it, when you’re starting to get upset, we now know that the body starts engorging the back of the brain with blood. Right?
Philip DeLuca: The potential threat, be on alert, could be eaten by a bear, but it takes the blood from the front of the brain. So what happens is the front brain slows, decreases in functioning in the back brain comes alive. And at some point, if you’ve ever been upset and heard yourself having this internal dialogue, “Stay calm.” “No, I don’t want to stay calm. There’s a bunch of crap. I’m not going to take this.” That’s actually the two parts of the brain having a dialogue and you can hear it now. Both of those brains are connected through the autonomic nervous system, through 90% of our organs. So one jacks us up, it’s a threat. The other one calms us down afterward. So have you ever been upset and had that dialogue? And then after a while, what’s called the Amygdala, that’s you like stew in the front brain control. So “Stay in control. You’re going to lose your job. You’re going to do something you’re going to regret. You don’t want to do that.” And then as the stress keeps rising, a hypothalamus keeps switching the blood from the front to the back lane. And then you go from 51 to 49 to 51, 49 up to 75, 25. So basically front brain falls asleep and now you’re in the back brain and you’re into a Fight-or-Flight mode. And I call that our crocodile brain because we act like crocodiles, no different, Bible alone. So a minute ago you were looking forward to going to dinner with them. And now that you’ve been hijacked and you’re pumped up, they are the dinner.
Philip DeLuca: So things switch radically. And now we’re looking to engage in conflict. So we’re relatively irrational. We bring up past stuff. There’s no rhyme or reason to what we say or do. So here’s where conventional approaches come in. Get in touch with your anger. Stay in touch with it. You’re entitled to it. Don’t go to bed mad at each other. So what they’re doing is they’re encouraging more conflict rather than saying. Wait a minute, calm down, and then re-engage. That’s why I’m saying, stop talking and start communicating because you’re not communicating effectively when you’re in a this is a worst-case scenario, dark, bleak, catastrophic, you versus me mentality. It’s not a connecting brain, it’s a destroying brain. And if you notice when people are upset, they’re always going to be right. They’re never wrong. They have to have the last word because it’s a dominant brain. And unfortunately, 99% of the time it gets activated when it shouldn’t be. So now you think you’re in a combat place when you’re not, the person still is the same person in front of you that you loved five minutes ago. But now that you’re angry, you see them as the enemy out to hurt you. And they’re doing it on purpose, and I’m going to hurt you back. If I go down, I’m taking you with me. So conventional approaches encourage that. We’ll talk it through so they get more angry so they get more wired for this. There’s another part to this. It’s called neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity says, we now know we shape our brain with our thoughts. Neuroplasticity, the brain is flexible. It’s plastic. We shape it with our thoughts. It’s a muscle. If you use it, it grows. And if you don’t, it shrinks. So what does that mean? What that means is, over time, if you’re staying in touch with your anger, you’re wiring your back brain for more anger. It’s becoming hypersensitive. The slightest thing sets you off. You’ve got triggers going off all over the place. Arguments, You get more frequent, they get more intense. Recovery has begun becoming increasingly incomplete. You haven’t gotten over the last five arguments.
Philip DeLuca: Now you get hit with another one. So the caring, you know, here’s caring, you dropped down with an argument, slowly recovering, you get hit with another one and then another one. And then eventually you get into what I call is the dead zone. This sucks. Caring, love. Joy, peace, health, that a relationship, so you have no caring left in that dead zone and you just move on. Because even if you fix it, then it doesn’t matter. Because I don’t like you anymore. I don’t love you, so why bother? We now know the more we stay in touch with our anger, the more we wire ourselves for more anger. And the other part of that is another part of that is Sister Science, it is epigenetics. Epigenetics, We now know there are 52,000 genes in our body, and each cell can switch on or off up to 28. Some are pro-inflammatory and some are anti-inflammatory. Some release endorphins and calm us down, and some release cortisol and their wake and jack us up. Well, how does the cell know whether we’re in a peaceful, relaxing place on the beach or we’re in a combat area and I need to jack, release the cortisol? Well, what they do is, every cell in our body now we know is listening to our brain, which is forming around our thoughts. So if we’re staying in touch with our anger, the cells think we’re in this combat mode constantly. And they’re switching on these chronic stress hormones, which basically cook our insides over time. People that hold on and don’t forgive and resent are really taking poison every day. It’s, to punish you, I’m going to drink this arsenic every day in order to punish you. But they’re wiring their body and their brain for more conflict, more negativity, more trauma, and more toxicity. So basically what I’m saying is you get caught up in this downward spiral, you feel bad, you’re upset. You talk it through at the moment because God forbid you ever want to go to bed mad at each other.
Philip DeLuca: And that’s a serious sin. You don’t want to do that. So you talk it through. You don’t sleep that night because you’re upset the next day. You have these long text wars, and then you finish it that night. And then after three days, you finally fall asleep because you call a truce and you’re so exhausted. So you finally do fall asleep. But there’s this huge debris out there, stuff that was said, the past that was brought up, toxic words, gestures that were made. So that’s a long recovery process. And before you get back recovered from that, you get hit with another one. Because what it does is anger is progressive. It’s like a snowball rolling down a hill. It gets quicker, triggers get quicker, they’re more intense. The argument’s recovery is increasingly incomplete and it starts feeding on itself. You’re not over the last argument when you get triggered with another one. So you put it out there. While this is going on, the brain is saying, hey, I don’t need the front brain involvement anymore. Love, caring, understanding, self-control, responsibility, and accounting. But I need more back brain being on alert. You never know when they’re going to attack you. You got to attack back. So what we do is the brain gets increasingly lopsided and it’s called that “Amygdala Hijack” occurs. If you haven’t been upset, you know, and you’re watching your behaviors for these negative behaviors you’re doing and you can’t stop it, people will say, well, I know when I’m there because it’s like words are coming out of my mouth, but I can’t control them. It’s like I’m watching a film of my life, but I can’t stop it. That’s the amygdala, that brain, reptilian brain, crocodile brain hijack, where it takes over and that thing becomes as that grows, this turns into over time, we train it to turn into the Terminator and the front brain turns into Pee-Wee Herman.
Philip DeLuca: So after a while, you’re stuck in there. The slightest thing sets you off. You’re always defensive. You’re always attacking. You’re always bringing up past stuff, and you can’t stop yourself. And while the two of them are feeding on each other in that regard, the brain is wiring around even more of that. And so, like a snowball, it’s on a self-feeding accelerating course. And then it becomes if we talk about it, we get into it, and if we don’t talk about it, we still go mad at each other and get into an argument. So it becomes they get to a lose-lose situation and everything they try, “Let’s talk it through. Let’s make these rules active listening. I won’t cut you off. I won’t bring up the past.” Well, that’s really easy when you’re in your front brain in control. But when we get hijacked, one brain shuts down. We lose up to 75% of the blood flow. It’s like a lake that falls asleep. You can’t walk on it, so you can’t use those rules. They go out the window. We do the very things we say we weren’t going to do. We get calmer afterward. The front brain clicks back on. Now you have regrets and guilt and shame and “Okay, this time, we’re going to do better.” They get upset, it repeats, they get hijacked again, and now they get into a feeling of hopelessness. Everything we do, it just makes it worse. We go to a counselor. They say “Talk it through.” We talk it through. It gets worse. We read a book. It says to do that. The problem is those that approach is faulty. It’s just feeding the very problem. It becomes part of the problem. So when they’re upset, the worse it gets.
Philip DeLuca: So they feel hopeless. Everything we try doesn’t work. We must be in a failure. And that increases stress, which increases back-brain involvement. Everything they do from that point forward just accelerates the tumble and it can happen real quick. People will say, we were doing good for years, and in the last three months, it’s been a living hell. What I did was I found out what the science was, why conventional approaches don’t work. And then I came up with, what do you do in lieu of that? And that’s what I perfected clinically over the last 30 years or so “Okay, let me try this. Okay. I need a little more of this. I need a little more of this.” And I put it together in a very concrete five-step program to help people, because when they’re going through this, there’s so much emotional confusion and debris going on. You have to make it very simple, and very clear, break it down into little steps, and walk them through that. And then when you put it all together, they got it. And they’re in a much better place.
Becky Coplen: Yes, that had so much detail and was helpful, especially with the blood flow. I feel like we don’t hear those stats as much. I will tell you, I’m a school counselor at an elementary. There, unfortunately, we have so many children who have been using the back brain so many times because of trauma and such devastating situations. Some of those things are getting out.
Philip DeLuca: Yeah, I’m starting to see people are figuring out. They haven’t figured out Conventional approaches don’t work to the full extent. So I am seeing people who are getting that information. Counselors and clients are coming in and they’re saying, “Yeah, I went to the counselor”, and either an individual counselor can join sessions. They weren’t giving them that stuff to calm down, but they’re not giving them the whole picture. So the problem is people are having a tough time implementing that. They’re putting together a little pieces here. So they figured out this doesn’t work. Engaging people when you’re upset, but you need the full picture in order to get this thing, wrestle it to the ground. And they still don’t have that. And that’s where my approach kind of excels, because one of my steps, step five, is how to navigate through provocation. Most people, if the other party won’t cooperate, most counselors will tell you, “Well, we can’t do anything till they’re cooperative.” Well, that’s 50% of the population. And I’ve had a problem with that right out of graduate school. I just write them off when they’re ready to deal with this, then come back in. And I wasn’t happy with that.
Philip DeLuca: So I developed an approach that deals with what do you do about that. When you have somebody who’s looking to provoke an argument and everything you try, they just twist, distort, try to argue with you. What’s the reason for that and how do you short-circuit that? So that’s one piece. The other one is one of the things I discovered when people are dying in this conflict scenario, which is horrendous. Have you ever been through a divorce? I mean, the reason I wanted to go into marriage counseling is because when a marriage or relationship breaks up, the ripple effect is enormous. I mean, you have the trauma effect on the children. People are poorer afterward. You have people turning to alcohol, depression, promiscuous sex. You have the effect on the families, you have the finances to get breaking up. So I figured I can prevent all those ripples for every relationship I can keep together, every marriage. And that’s, for me, a lot of bang for the buck. You know, somebody didn’t commit suicide. Somebody didn’t turn to alcohol, somebody didn’t turn on somebody didn’t have promiscuous sex and get into another bad relationship. The kids aren’t traumatized. The extended family doesn’t have to deal with whose side, who’s right, who’s wrong, and all that kind of stuff. Affairs didn’t happen and all that stuff. So that’s why I like doing this. Help people prevent that from happening. That’s a real rush for me.
Becky Coplen: This episode is brought to you by mastersincounseling.org. If you’re considering enrolling in a master’s level counseling program to further your career, visit mastersincounseling.org, to compare school options via our search tool that allows you to sort by specific degree types, tuition, our costs, online flexibility, and more. It looked like on your website you do service more than just couples. Or are you only focusing on couples at this point? Maybe teenagers? Or where are you at, with whom your service?
Philip DeLuca: All my stuff now is pretty much relationship stuff. I don’t do teenagers. I used to do kids a lot. I mean, I’m 72 now almost, and the younger generation is like, they’re from another planet. I’m like, what? What is going on here? This is like an alien is sitting in front of me. So I can’t comprehend all those issues. I got enough of dealing with marriages because there’s so much more difficult to work out stuff in marriages. There are so many things pulling people apart. I describe it in a relationship. Unless you get proactive with it, you’re not going to make it. Why? It’s like a current. Think of this you got a river flowing downstream and there’s a cliff over the end. If you just get in and float, it’ll take you. If you swim across to the other side, you may make it or you may not, because the currents pulling you down. So what do you have to do to make it? If you swim against the current, it’ll pull you down, but you’re making progress again, so you’re more likely to make it. So what does that translate into practical application? There’s so much stuff pulling apart, people apart. When I was growing up, you had one TV, three stations in the middle of the room and you looked at TV together. Now you have a TV in this room, a TV over here, 150 stations.
Philip DeLuca: You have this electronic thing that’s making me crazy. Everybody’s on their phone, either on Facebook or playing video games. So you’re in a restaurant, you used to have to look at each other in a restaurant. Well, now one’s looking at the TV, the other one’s on their phone, or they’re both on their phone, and nobody’s connecting. Even when you’re watching TV in the same room, they both might be on their phones, so they’re physically there, but they’re not. Plus, with cell phones now, your boss can reach you at any time. So even if you’re on vacation, you’re supposed to be working or I need that report. Before you used to have a landline, and when you were out, you were in the yard raking leaves, you were out of touch. So the whole situation is scrunched. You have all of these distractions. You got pornography, you’ve got online dating and flirting and affairs, which is rampant. People don’t have time for each other. So unless they get proactive and swim against that current, because the system is built to push people apart, not on purpose, but there’s just so much stuff. Get off those phones, and plan a time to be together. Because if you’re going to wait until we have time, you’re not going to find it.
Philip DeLuca: Yeah. Plus, you know, you have the children issue. Kids have so many activities, if you have children, you run from one activity to another. I mean, I had this one couple, I had this little this dance activities, so busy that when they would drive and they had to pass the child from one car to the other, they pass them through the window so they can go. “Okay, go. You got it. Go. You’re late.” They don’t eat dinner together. They don’t sit and talk together. They eat dinner there in front of the TV or they’re on their electronic stuff. There’s no connection anymore. Well, how do you expect to be a couple? So what happens is people end up being strangers, roommates, and then the kids grow older, and then it’s like, “Oh, the kids are going to be moving on. Oh, I’m not so busy with them. They’re driving themselves or they’re busy with their friends.” “Wait a minute. Who are you? Wait a minute, I know you. Give me a minute.” “Oh, yeah. We got married 20 years ago. Yeah, now I remember.” So what happens is they’ve evolved differently. They’ve handled the stresses in life differently. They mature differently, and now they’re strangers to each other. And that’s a big breakup point. So they’re either going to reinvent themselves or they’re going to move on usually because I’m just a different person than I was. Yeah, ten years or 20 years ago, and we didn’t evolve together, cross-checking and growing together because all those events prevented it. And we didn’t get proactive and schedule time for us. And that’s a big problem that we never had before.
Becky Coplen: I also agree, especially the going up current. You gotta fight for your marriage before things get bad. One thing you mentioned setting time, making plans, I know you do a lot of holistic work with how our bodies are breaking down, whenever we’re arguing and angry. Give us some examples. You’ve worked with a couple, let’s say a couple of weeks. What are some of the first things you ask them to agree? Do you tell them this is what you need to do? What does that look like?
Philip DeLuca: Yeah. So let’s talk about my five-step program. So right now, when people come in and they’re arguing, I used to give them that description that I just gave you. But now since I have this PowerPoint, I just say I’m going to send you something. I’d like you to look at it. It’s 50 minutes. I have a lot of graphics. See if you see yourself in that. And if you do, we will know exactly what to do in order to short-circuit this immediately. All right. And I want you to look at it individually because if they look at it together, they’re going to argue about it. “That’s what you do. Exactly.” “No, you do that too.” And that’s not that’s not my purpose. My purpose is self-focus and accountability. So let’s say I give them that verbal description. You have front pain, back pain. Your back brain is highly wired now. And your front brain is kind of like a peewee Herman. So we gotta reverse it. We gotta make your front brain the terminator and connect self-control, accountability, responsibility. And we gotta make the back brain. Peewee Herman, we want to keep the back brain chained in the basement until you need it, you’re about to be run over by a car or mugged. But don’t pull it out when your partner talks the car in the wrong place or puts the tissues on the wrong level in the dishwasher. Not time to nuke them, all right? You want a relationship afterward. So okay, they get it and they’ll come in and they’ll say, “Yeah, I get it. I see that, that’s us, exactly. What do we do about it?” Well, step one, ideally, you want to be able to talk through tense things because you’re going to have tense things and feel like you’re understood and heard. But people don’t have that ability when they’re caught up in chronic arguing.
Philip DeLuca: They just bounce off the same wall over and over, and they never go through it. The same things keep recycling. So the first thing we want to do is the two parts of a relationship, I found. There’s the connecting part, where we’re enjoying time together, sharing, and we’re getting closer. And then there’s the work part, which is the communication/conflict resolution, when issues come up and they feed on each other, we’re doing well. So we’re going to argue less. We get along better, so we argue less. But when the arguing goes sour, we’re arguing all the time. I was looking forward to going to dinner with you, but after that, what you said to me two minutes ago, I’m not enjoying dinner and I don’t want to go to you. So now they slow up connecting, which means they’re going to be shorter and more testy, which means they’re going to argue more, which means they’re going to do less positive. And now they’re on this negative feedback loop that’s going down. So I found the best way to short-circuit that is, cut the arguing. You gotta hit the arguing face-on. Because if you give them an assignment, go out to a movie and they’re still hyper-sensitive to each other, they’re going to argue the whole time. So you just made it worse. My position is, let’s throttle this anger down ASAP, and then we can get you to start connecting. And then you’ll be on a positive feedback loop. We’re arguing less. We’re enjoying each other more. So I feel better. So I’m arguing less. I’m less testy in short, giving you the benefit of the doubt. So we’re getting along better. And now you’re on a positive reinforcing loop. So what I’ll do is I’ll say step one is to “Be aware of when you’re getting jacked up. Is your blood pressure getting up, raising your muscles, tensing?” And before you throw that grenade, get away and get calmer.
Philip DeLuca: All right. So step one is “Be aware.” Step two is “Put a pause switch in”. Ideally, you want to get to a place where people can talk when they’re tense. But they don’t have that ability initially because their brain is wired for conflict and they don’t have the self-control to do it. So an initial step, I want you to be aware of when you’re losing control. And before you say something, before you roll your eyes, get away before you drop that grenade, Be aware. Put a pause, switch in, and step three, this gets back to your question. Detox, now you’re upset, what are you going to do to get calmer? What does the science say? All right. Calming music, comedy, touch. Touch releases Endorphins, Endorphins calm those stress chemicals down. It involved some kind of activity. Going for a walk, gardening, playing with your dog, doing some meditation. So there are meditation tapes I’ll give people. That’s a good time to do it. You want to get calmer now that you’re in your front brain, and you can tell you’re in your front brain? I can think straight. People will say, I feel calmer, I can laugh now. You want to re-engage.
Philip DeLuca: Good communication is not just getting in touch with what you feel and vomited on others. I call that vomit communication. That’s a conventional myth. There’s no rhyme or reason. You just throw it out and then you have all this debris that you have to deal with. So I call it controlled communication, filtered communication. Aristotle said, that anybody can become angry, even an idiot. But to be angry at the right place at the right time, that’s my version of that. I do that, “Be angry at the right person, at the right time, for the right purpose, in the right way” is not so easy. So he says, I don’t have a problem with anger, but make it constructed. Filter it. Now what you’re having in relationships, so you’re calmer. Okay, so before we get on to the difference between fighters and fighters, emotive types and people who flee, they have an allergy to issues. We’ll get back to that because that’s a big problem. So now that you’re calmer, now re-engage. But make sure they’re calmer too. We both have to be in the front brain because that’s a “Let’s resolve this, take responsibility, and connect.” But if I’m here and you’re here if you’ve noticed when the other party is upset, you’re having a conversation, you can tell when they get hijacked because suddenly their logic goes out the window and they twist and distort everything you say. They seem to be looking for an argument. They mishear misinterpret, bring up past issues, bring up toxic words.
Philip DeLuca: So they’ve just been hijacked. Continuing communication at that point is just going to pull you in at some point. And now you’re both going to be hijacked. And now you have what I call the escalation stage, and it’s going to be nasty. That’s the stuff people say and do that they frequently never forget or forgive. And you don’t want to get there because it is real ugly. And it’s a relationship killer. The problem is when people get so wired with their back brain in control, they can’t stop themselves. It’s like a black hole, a vacuum that’s sucking them in that. And they’re like, “No, I don’t want to go there.” But they can’t stop themselves because the front brain is so weak, it doesn’t have the willpower to stop it.
Philip DeLuca: So they’re getting caught up in that in spite of their desire to stop it. So this is an attempt to do that. Step one, “Be aware of when I’m getting jacked up and when you are.” you know, I can tell when I’m getting jacked up, my stomach starts twitching in a certain way that I know is not like indigestion. It’s, I’m getting wired, but I can tell when my wife is, she’s a lot more emotional than me, I can tell when she’s getting jacked up because her eyes change, her whole countenance gets harsh, and her words change. And she’s not, we’re not connecting anymore, but she’s out to get me and be right, which this brain has to be right. And I got a five-star wife. So I want to make everybody aware that she’s a gem. So. But we all do that. You know, I do the same thing. So what you want to do then is you want to get calmer now. Step four is now you want to communicate. And the big thing is what do you do when the other party has been hijacked? They’re upset and they’re looking to provoke an argument. And everything you try just seems to make it worse. That’s the real kicker.
Philip DeLuca: And I spent about 20 years figuring out I’m like, what the heck is going on here? This doesn’t make sense, because think about this, here you are. You’re trying to talk through that. Basically, you’re saying, “Listen, listen, honey, stay calm. This is going to have real bad consequences. We’re going on vacation. It’ll ruin the vacation.” Your family’s come over and they seem immune to that and are just vomiting on you. And people think they can actually talk through that. The science is clear. You cannot talk through the back brain, cannot be done. It’s not made for talk. It’s made for battle. It’s made for conflict. It’s a reciprocal brain. It seeks conflict in return. That’s why when the person is upset, they’re trying to provoke an argument. We’re not doing that on purpose. We’re doing it because we’ve just been hijacked. And that’s what it does. It’s a Neanderthal in us. It’s a beast. It’s made for conflict. So you have this front brain. We try to talk through the other party. Now let’s be rational here. Make sense? All you’re doing, it’s like somebody that has an IQ of 69 and you’re trying to teach them calculus. It’s not going to happen. They don’t have the brain capability to do that. So we try to put the front brain into the back brain.
Philip DeLuca: And all it does is trip us up and then we get sucked in and end up saying and doing stuff we regret. We’re saying we’re not going to do it again. And then it happens over and over and over. And that’s where the hopelessness comes in. No matter what we try, if we talk about it, we get into arguments. If we don’t talk about it, they keep poking and poking and poking till we get into it. Anyway, we seem to be in a lose-lose situation. You know, you come home. Here’s a great example. You come home, you have a great day. You open the door and you know they’re in the back brain, how do you tell? They’re in the back brain. they’re giving you the evil eye, they’re quiet. They’re bringing up certain subjects that you know are taboo, or they have a certain tone to them. And you’re like, “Houston, we got a problem. I know where this is going.” They’re going to want to talk it through. Why? They want to talk it through because that’s what we’ve been teaching them for 40 years. Talk it through and we’ll go to bed mad at each other, don’t repress this. And they’re going to want to talk it through.
Philip DeLuca: But I know from past experience they don’t want to talk with you to resolve it. They want to talk it through to get into an argument. However, if I don’t talk it through with them, they’re going to pick, pick, pick, pick, pick till we get into it anyway. So we’re in a lose-lose situation no matter what I do. And furthermore, I feel guilty because I’m running from the problem, which is one of the things you’re not supposed to do is run from the problem. So either way, they’re trapped and it appears they’re in a lose-lose situation. So that’s what I talk about with step five is what’s going on and what do you do about that? But before we go to that, I know we’ve got just a few minutes left. Let’s talk about one of the common ways couples will interact and present is you have somebody who’s very, let’s call them emotive. You have a fighter who tends to be emotional, and you have a flighter who tends to be avoidant. This is logical this is unproductive. And they seem to it’s like they have an allergy to conflict. So anytime the other party starts bringing it up, they’re like I’m out of here. And so the other party is like, I gotta nail them down and they never come back. That’s the problem. It’s not like when they’re calm, are they? Okay, honey, let’s deal with this. It’s gone. They sweep it under the rug. It makes the emotive type absolutely insane. I gotta talk this through. And if we don’t talk it through now, you never talk about it. So I gotta increase my talking in the hopes I can get something out of you. Because as soon as you leave that door, go through that door. It’s done. You’re never coming back to it. That’s a really common pattern. What I do with that is I get the person when they disengage, but promise to come back and come back and I throttle the emotive type back because that stuff is so intense. This party knows I can’t talk through that because they twist everything into pretzels. They’re tempers getting bad, so there’s no point talking about it. So we gotta throttle one down and throttle this one into that. That takes some tweaking, as you might imagine. So that’s the goal. And by the way, I tend to be the emotive type.
Philip DeLuca: So I know what they go through. So what do you do with step five? Step five is how do you navigate through. Remember here’s the scenario. You come into the house, they’re upset and you know they’re going to want to talk it through. But if we talk it through it’s going to end up in an argument. And if I don’t, they’re not going to leave me alone till we talk it through. They’re going to follow me into the next room. If I close the door, they’re going to come in. If I lock the door, t stream through the door. If I try to leave the house, they’re going to block the door. That’s amygdala hijack, by the way. That’s that reptilian brain hijack, they want conflict. And the question then becomes, why won’t they let you calm down? I mean, here you are. You know, it’s like you’re saying it’s like you’re trying to keep this thing from getting to a bad place, which we’ve been a dozen times before. It’s a killer. When we get there, you would think they would drop down on one knee and say, “Thank you, dear. Now I know why God put you in my life to keep me from going crazy like this and killing our love. Thank you so much. Thank you, thank you, thank you.” That we have that everybody has that hope. But that has never happened. Everybody has that hope that the other party is going to drop down on their knee and thank them because I talk sense into you. But it never happened in the history of the world and will never happen. They go in for the kill. Why? Because they’ve been hijacked. There are crocodiles at this point.
Philip DeLuca: They’re looking to destroy and you’re the enemy. So what do you do in that situation? Actually, you know, when you withdraw and they escalate, that’s actually them going through withdrawal. It’s like an addict going through withdrawal and they have more cravings. So when you look at that scenario, if I say something, they get upset. And if I don’t do anything, they get even more upset. That’s actually the solution. They’re actually going through withdrawal because the prey is escaping. Yeah. Remember when we get into this I call this our crocodile brain wants nothing more than alligators and crocodiles, when this happens, We’re just thinking of survival because the front brain that distinguishes us from the animal has clicked off. It’s only got 25% blood flow. So it’s comatose. Yeah. So we are from our primal state. What do you do with that? So I talk to people about I mean that’s what step five is. There are a number of ways to get through that. One of which is talking does not work. So let’s be real clear about the science is clear. You cannot talk through a Fight-or-Flight response. So the more you try, the more they’re going to twist, distort, and then pull you in to get the conflict that we all, including me, seek when we’re in that place, we don’t do it maliciously. It’s just instinct.
Philip DeLuca: We’re pure instinct at that point. So what do you do? So I say to people, can you go in when they’re at that place? Can you go into the next room? 5% will say that’ll work. The other 95% say, no, that won’t work. Why not? They’ll follow me in. Can you close the door? Another 5% say that will work, another 90% will say, no, that won’t. They’ll come in. Can you lock the door? Another 5% will say, that won’t work the other 15. So you’re up to 15% and the other 85% say that won’t work. Why? Because they’ll get in their car. They’ll ram it through the wall. And while I’m pinned in the rubble, they’ll finish the argument. You know why? But not too much. Because people will bang on the door. They’ll scream on the door. Think about this. It’s like an addict. You’re depriving them of that adrenaline rush they’re seeking. And that’s why they’re being so unreasonable. If you try to slip out the door, this isn’t working. They’re just screaming through the door and they try to block you from leaving. If you manage to get out, they’ll run behind the car. I’ve had women jump on the car and hold on to the windshield as the man is driving away through this real expensive neighborhood and making them all look like fools. Men don’t do that, you know. What they’ll do is they’ll smash the windshields and dent the car. It’s more macho, you know, we would be. We wouldn’t be hanging on the windshield. That’s for women. That’s for weak, weak men. I’m real macho. I’ll break the windows and dent the car on the one I’m paying, by the way, and now I have to pay the insurance deductible. So I got a dent in the car, so people will. But you gotta understand, why are they getting so intense on engaging? Because when we slip into our reptilian brain, we just see you as nothing more than a meal. And the meal is escaping. So they’re trying. You’re cutting them off from their fix. So what do you do? You maintain that and don’t give in. Because if you go through that door, they’ll, like, bait you back in. If you go through that door, it’ll be all over and it’ll be your fault and you’ll be divorced like that five-times loser mother of yours. Oh, and you turn around. Don’t talk about my mother. And now they just hooked you. And they’re getting their fix of conflict.
Philip DeLuca: But there are other things you can do, which I talked about in my step five is you can give them a hug. I talked to a lot of a lot of couples where the woman might be the one who’s losing it, and the guy is the one who leaves, and it makes her crazy. And I’ll say, if he gave you a hug, right then. “Come here, honey, I need a hug. She’d say, I would love that, but what does that do that releases touch releases? What does the science say releases oxytocin? That gets we get flooded with that during sex. That’s the bonding hormone and serotonin and all those hormones. They are like water on the stress hormones. Think about that. Here’s a good example. You’ve been upset. You’re really upset. You’re really angry. And you have a good horny laugh. And it’s like it cleared the air. How did that happen? Because those connecting hormones are like water on the stress hormones. And that’s what you want to do. That’s why in stage three when you detach and you detox, you want to release those hormones. What gives you pleasure? What calms you down? Flood the system with that and then re-engage. Because as long as you’re disengaged and you’re ruminating over these thoughts. Remember neuroplasticity. We are building more and more brain cells. The brain is a muscle. We are building this into a stronger and stronger control over us. More negativity, more dislike, more resentment, more anxiety, and so on. So all you’re doing as you’re pouting and sulking to punish them is making yourself a lot worse and sicker.
Becky Coplen: Oh wow, so many things on here to share. Thank you for giving us so much time and a lot of information, especially on some nontraditional methods. I’m so glad you shared those with us and I hope they will be helpful to our listeners. So thank you for being here today.
Philip DeLuca: One more plug, listeners can go to my site, gobeyondtalktherapy.com. Contact me and I will send you, at no charge, my course. It’s also on YouTube I believe, but I’ll send it. And if you have any questions, I’ll be glad to answer them because I’m here to help people.
Becky Coplen: Perfect. Thank you so much. Have a wonderful day. You’ve been listening to the Mastering Counseling podcast by mastersincounseling.org. Join us again next episode as we explore what it takes to be a business success in the counseling industry.