Breaking the Communication Barrier

the communication barrierAs you can imagine, couples enter my office in the midst of arguments.

My role, as therapist, is to help move the conversation along; navigating it through the many roadblocks and land-mines along the way. Through supporting each spouse to tell his or her story and learn to compassionately listen to one another, a warm and fuzzy feeling of intimacy emerges.

I’d like you to imagine the following scenario:

Jill: you know I asked you to take out the garbage last night I came downstairs and it’s still sitting there!

Jack: you’re speaking like your mother speaks! It’s all because of her that we never get along!

Jill: you never appreciate anything I do for you! (Jill starts crying)

Maybe this is a scene without therapy.

Now the therapist might step in and ‘double’ for Jill.

Therapist: I really value all that you do for the family, I can tell that throwing the garbage out is difficult for you but it would mean so much to me if you would do that for me.

The therapist might ask Jill where he was wrong or right in what he said.

Jill: you got it right.

The therapist then turn to Jack and say “hearing that what would you say?”

Jack: I’m fed up with the way you boss me around! I’m not your child!

The therapist might then ‘double’ for Jack.

Therapist: let me see if I got it. Jill, it feels really good to hear that you appreciate me, I want you to know that when you get angry with me it make me feel like I’m a kid being yelled at.

The therapist might ask Jack where he was wrong or right in what he said.

Jack: that’s right, but it makes me feel like my mother is yelling at me and that’s not a good feeling.

Therapist: Let me see if I got it all…Jill, it feels really good to hear that you appreciate me. I want you to know that when you get angry with me it make me feel like I was a child being yelled at by my mother.

Jill: Jack, I never knew that about you, I didn’t realize my tone brought up all those sad memories.

Using the above technique called doubling that I learned from Dan Wiles Ph.D, I help my clients overcome the negativity in their most intimate relationships and move their conversations towards a more collaborative and empathic outcome.

Comments are closed