There are 2 distinct types of hostility in couples in a state of conflict. One type is what Aaron Wolasky refers to as active hostility. The author is latent hostility. Active hostility is easily recognizable. We all know what that looks like. Even a person not trained in the field of family therapy will know the signs. The 2 sides are simply bitterly angry at one another. And it’s not hidden. They fight in pubic even sometimes and are constantly battling with each other in a vicious war of words. It is ugly.
Latent hostility is the type of conflict that an outsider likely would not recognize. On the surface everything could look fine. In fact, it could look great. Sometimes, a family in a state of latent conflict will appear to be functioning very well. Things could look peaceful. However, beneath the surface is simmering a hostility that is liable to break forth at any time. There is no peace. It is all a façade for the world outside to see. However, when the 2 parties think of each other they are filled with deep anger. They realize that something is wrong. Very wrong. Obviously, they do, for that is what brought them to seek out family therapy to begin with. That is why they are sitting in your office. They know they have a serious problem and desperately want help. The task of the therapist is to recognize the signs of latent hostility and thereby become enabled to help them.
Aaron Wolasky’s Advice To See The Signs Of Latent Hostility
What are these signs? That is, of course the million-dollar question that we will attempt to give some guidance on.
Number one is the therapist should observe to see if the two parties are making eye contact and looking at each other. If a couple is unable to look at each other that is a pretty strong indicator that latent hostility is at play.
Another sign is that one of the parties always seems extremely ill at ease whenever the other one is speaking. They look as if they don’t trust anything the other says and can’t wait until they are done talking. Furthermore, they may make slight, barely perceptible faces when the other is speaking. If the therapist is not closely looking for these faces he will almost certainly miss them and thereby lose out on a valuable opportunity to grasp the extent of latent hostility that exists between the couple.
This is why a good family therapist, like Aaron Wolasky must be vigilant and observant at all times. You don’t want to miss a single cue that the couple is sending you during the time allotted for the appointment.
Undivided attention isn’t even the right word for this. The right word would be something cl0ser to hyper-observant. If the therapist is not hyper-observant and carefully looking for the cues we spoke about then he will almost assuredly be left with an incomplete picture of the situation.
Take notice, be alert, watch and most importantly observe intensely.