Reveal is a relationship wellness tool that lets individuals or couples track and navigate through their conflict cycles: the triggers, emotions, reactions, and actions they undertake, and reflect through what lies underneath these behaviours and primary emotions. These insights about their partners and themselves will allow couples to break the negative cycles and strengthen the relationship.
Conflicts begin with emotional disconnection. But most of us are bad at communicating our emotions directly. Reveal helps couples deal positively with these moments when they feel emotionally disconnected, by slowing down and reflecting on their emotions. The goal is not to analyze the behaviours and modify the symptoms, but recognize the pattern of interactions and create a whole new kind of positive experience for the user and their partner. And all of this is done within a simple app interface, in full intimacy, and saving them thousands of dollars they would have spent on counseling sessions.
Based on the methods of Emotionally Focused Therapy, Reveal places the focus on emotional triggers and past experiences, rather than on outwards behaviours. Reveal believes that, no matter how the particular relationship conflict cycle shows up, there are logical reasons for why it appears the way it does. By shifting from “there’s a problem with us” to “we need to break the cycle”, Reveal allows couples to restore closeness and repair the damage entirely on their own.
“The quality of our relationships determines the quality of our lives.” (Perez). Anyone who’s been in a relationship knows the pain of having conflicts with your partner.
From my user survey, I found that 80% of couples consider relationship conflicts to be extremely painful. Furthermore, they selected communicating emotions to be the most difficult part of resolving conflicts.
While a healthy dose of conflicts can indeed be beneficial to the relationship, not every couple has the toolkit to approach it the right way. Research has shown that repetitive arguments and negative feelings in a relationship are damaging to your health as much as they are to the relationship (Scott). While most conflicts are manageable, and can even be transformed into a positive experience, many couples keep getting stuck in a vicious argument cycle and cannot move beyond their hurt feelings because of a lack of awareness and education, namely on their emotions.
Among a variety of couple therapy and counselling, EFT (Emotionally Focused Therapy) is a well-known, proven intervention that helps couples improve their conflict resolution and strengthen their bond. But a session with an EFT practitioner costs between 150-250$ per hour (Counselling BC), and the widely popular EFT workshop - Hold Me Tight costs ~700$ per couple (Pringle). Indeed, my survey found that cost is the number one factor that deters people from seeking professional help to improve their relationship health. Furthermore, many couples believe that conflicts are normal or at least theirs are, and don’t believe they need to turn it into a bigger deal. In fact, on average, most couples wait six years after identifying a problem before seeking therapy (Gaspard and Gottman). That’s why, although there are digital alternatives (e.g., the app Lasting) to in-person counselling at a fraction of the costs, the very fact that it’s labelled as “counselling” deters couples who do not believe that they are “sick” enough to seek help.
There is inevitably a void in the market for a discrete, simple, and affordable tool that individuals can use regularly to promote a deeper understanding of their partner and of themselves, and thereby improving their relationship health.
- Democratize and make accessible the methods of EFT, and place the power of improving relationship health, (and ultimately, themselves), in people’s own hands.
- Re-establish emotional connection by uncovering what lies underneath the secondary emotions (what’s shown on the outside).
- Turn the pain of conflicts into positive experiences.
- Build personal emotional intelligence and improve conflict resolution skills.
- Increase overall happiness and sense of security.
- As a user, I want to identify my triggers and understand why I react to them.
- As a user, I want to be able to put my emotions and feelings into words.
- As a user, I want to understand what pain underlies my secondary emotions.
- As a user, I want to see a summary of my top triggers, reactions, moods, fears, and coping mechanisms, and how they evolved overtime (historical records).
- As a user, I want to keep track of my/our progress - are we generating more and more positive experiences from conflicts?
- As a user, I want to use the app in conjunction with my partner and be able to share our results.
Reveal goes through a 5-step process to establish an emotional reconnection.
1. Prompt user to log their trigger - what made them react in the first place. It could be a comment or an eye-roll from the partner.
2.a. Prompt user to enter the emotions they felt.
2.b. Prompt user to slow down and reflect what are the underlying pain and fears beneath their emotions.
3.a. Prompt user to log the actions they took, or how they reacted.
3.b. Ask user how their partner reacted in retrospect. This is how they get stuck in a push-pull, infinite cycle of conflict.
4. Bringing everything together and present them the full conflict cycle:
“When [trigger] happens, I show [emotion] and tell myself that [perception]. The more I [action], the more my partner [partner's action]. But deep down, I'm experiencing [pain] and am protecting myself from [fear/past experiences].”
5. Ask user to communicate this new understanding of the conflict to the partner. Sharing vulnerabilities is extremely difficult, as the communicator does not know how the receiver will react. But this is the most important step in breaking the cycle, as it will help the couple reconnect emotions and understand each other’s true feelings.
To some extent, Reveal can be used as a digital, self-serve version of EFT couple therapy. The method is simple but effective: by going through this process of “de-escalation of cycle”, the user gains an understanding of what triggers them, what is the pain beneath it, and can stop the cycle by facing and processing what makes them vulnerable (Miller). This is the benefit they can reap every time they use the app. But by using the app regularly and accumulating data points, there are the additional benefits of seeing patterns overtime - triggers, reactions, emotions, coping mechanisms, and how your relationship and emotional health is evolving overtime with insightful summaries and charts. (need to tweak out the details of data visualization)
Mockup of the Reveal app (WIP) can be found here.
What are your key scenarios (based off your user stories)? What is the definition of done (or acceptance criterion) for each of them? Note: This should be finalized as a team.
- For long-term relationships: the same arguments, tension, hurt feelings happening again and again
- Acceptance criteria:
- Users can identify what triggers the arguments
- Users can identify what emotions are fueling their arguments
- Users can communicate their pains and fears to their partner
- New couples who just started dating (and arguing)
- Married couples who’ve experienced the same pattern for years
- Abrupt behavioural change in a partner