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Couples Class Series - Recognizing & Managing Reactivity (Portland, OR)

Is this you?

You love each other and are dedicated to creating a honest and kind relationship.  It’s frustrating when you get caught up in old patterns. You find yourself reacting with anger, defensiveness, or withdrawl more often than you would like. You have learned enough to know that something else is possible in your communication and relationship. Knowing this and holding the intention to interact differently are a supportive beginning to making a change. However, to support a lasting change, consistent practice and support from others are crucial ingredients.

What to Expect

In this series you’ll have the opportunity to get the support and practice you need. You will learn new skills in recognizing and managing reactivity. Being able to consistently manage reactivity builds trust and safety in your relationship.  

For most exercises in the series you will be working exclusively with your partner.  You will not need to share any details of your relationship with the group.  There will be time in the whole group for debrief and questions at the end of each exercise.  While information will be presented, the majority of your time will be spent reflecting, learning, and practicing new skills with your partner.  Exercises are created to meet a variety of learning and relational styles.

Skills and Learning Objectives

  1. Self-Empathy / Self-Compassion

    1. Identify at least 3 anchors / regulation strategies that you can use weekly or daily

      1. Each anchor connects you to the capacity for warmth and kindness towards yourself

    2. Shared humanity:  recall that others struggle with the same difficulties

    3. Name body sensations in any part of the body

    4. Name feelings and as they arise

    5. Identify universal needs when they are both met and unmet

    6. Offer empathy to inner critics

  2. Recognize Reactivity

    1. Identify the signs of defend, Attack, Submit, Shut down relative to the categories of experience (body/sensations, feelings, thoughts/words, posture/behavior, impulses, energy, memories/images, needs).

    2. Acknowledge that the causes for reactivity are internal and name what that looks like for you: Where you put your attention, thoughts, limiting beliefs, decisions, posture, behavior

    3. List from memory the 9 core needs most often associated with reactivity:  safety, belonging, support/nourishment, autonomy, authenticity/agency, acceptance, love, to be seen/heard

    4. Identify your own “tender needs”

    5. Identify your own nourishment barriers

    6. Identify at least one subtle/chronic sign of reactivity in yourself, that is, reactivity that you or others may not notice in the moment.  Examples include, withdrawal, becoming child-like or endearing, hyper-competence, habitual accomodation, taking charge or generosity that costs needs, charming or persuading, hyper-achievement, and intensifying.

  1. Manage Reactivity

    1. Practice with an “anchor” or any regulation strategies

    2. Identify at least five interpersonal de-escalation strategies

    3. Shift to empathy or self-empathy the moment reactivity is identified

    4. Differentiate between constructive feedback and blame or criticism

    5. Identify and make a plan to begin the healing work needed to lessen reactivity

    6. Each time suspicion and mistrust come up for you, ask yourself:  What else could be true?  Express the benefit of the doubt and check in for clarity.

Need more information before deciding whether or not to join?  Give me a call (503-544-7583) or send me an email with your questions or concerns.


7:00-9pm, Six consecutive Tuesdays beginning April 17-May 8, 2018
Friends Meeting House
4312 SE Stark, Portland OR 97215
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$315.00 per couple   Register Online
There will be two assistants for this series.

CANCELLATION POLICY:  to meet needs for inclusion, security, and predictability refunds are only given if requested 72 hours before the start of the course, so please discern carefully.