Digital Therapy, Inc. | A personal conversation promoting healthy self-talk

In just a dozen keystrokes, the patient, Joe, can read an initial interim summary of his own thoughts, words and decisions, an instant picture of what he is thinking:

Jane, my wife, and I are having a disagreement. It's about money. This problem makes me feel torn apart. My point of view concerning this is we need to save money for our retirement.

However, Jane's opinion differs from mine. Her opinion is that we should travel more.

Her agenda is to prove something to herself and others more than she wants to resolve the issue. My agenda is to control things.

First I have to acknowledge that:

  • if I let go of my interfering agendas, it will be easier to resolve this dispute
  • resolving this tension is more important to me than winning

Then I have to think about how I am going to do this:

    If I limit how we talk about this topic by establishing reasonable boundaries, I'll be able to resolve the tension more easily. The reasonable boundaries I have in mind are to listen to each other's position without getting upset and compromise on a solution. And leave other touchy issues for discussion at another time.

Here's what I can say to Jane:

    I think the best way to resolve this problem is to work towards a compromise. The compromise I'm going to propose is that we should have a budget for traveling and save as much as we can. I think this compromise is fair to both of us because we can both benefit from it. The compromise I'm proposing takes into account what we both agree on, which is to meet our points of view in the middle, so we can save money and at the same time we can travel and have fun.

This interim summary represents something different he can do about the life problem that is bothering him the most right now which was the angry fight he had with his wife. Giving up the need to control and proposing a compromise is new behavior for him (and may induce a new response from Jane).

THIS SHORT SUMMARY IS NOT THE THERAPY. It is only the emotional stake in the ground, the starting point of a therapeutic conversation, what the patient is ready to explore. ENGAGEMENT!

What happens next is dynamic, dependent on why he used the program at this particular moment in his life. Was he a self-help frequent-user who looks for a little clarity every so often? Is this issue covering up something deeper that he switches to next? Does he want to talk this through with a therapist before doing anything more on the program?

If Joe and Jane have a strong healthy marriage, a few more steps may be enough to get through this episode. Joe's changed behavior (from needing to be in control to suggesting a fair compromise that takes into account his wife's legitimate needs) may generate a new level of trust and intimacy.

But if he only intends to do this but is actually resistant to making this compromise (which we will be able to determine in the follow up steps), then the conversation switches to " why?" That exploration will not be with his wife, but with himself. Why is he so worried about having enough money in retirement? Is that justified in current reality, or driven by some insecurity related to the way he grew up? Is compromise interpreted as weakness and vulnerability?

The "why don't you do it?" question is the entrance to a deeper exploration of the emotions of fear, anger, guilt, and self-doubt...the emotions that interfere with healthy agency. These special explorations are the proprietary core of DigitalTherapy.

Joe can also use the program to explore any of the other disagreements or tensions in the relationship that may have contributed to the angry flare up that bothered him so much he sought help.

Is he perhaps resentful of her for not bringing in enough money? Is she resentful that she spent so many years looking after kids and didn't get to travel? Maybe it's the opposite-she's bringing in more money and feels like she should have more say in how they spend it? What's going on with the rest of their relationship?