Improving Couples Communication Through Neuroscience  

 

Debra Campbell, MS, LMFT, PACT 3 Candidate

www.gocuris.com/debracampbell


“Learning how to communicate better with my partner” is a commonly stated goal of couples in therapy. While not inaccurate, learning how to communicate better is often oversimplified to mean using the right language. In PACT, we are concerned not only about what is said but also how it is said and whether that works for both partners. 

Since partners are in each other’s care, we expect them to demonstrate self-awareness as well as expertise in their partner. We stage situations that expose the miscommunications, misappraisals, and misunderstandings that underly a couple’s most challenging interactions. By videotaping and reviewing the sessions, we create greater awareness around the interplay between verbal and nonverbal communication that underly their misunderstandings. 

Human communication is highly flawed. We have an assumptive pattern-finding brain that predicts...

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Communication 101: Listen and Understand, Part 2

By Kara Hoppe, MA, LMFT

PACT Level 2 Therapist

karahoppe.com


Couples have a seemingly universal ask when they first reach out for therapy: each couple, no matter their specific struggle, is on the hunt for solid communication tools. This makes sense. Communication is a crucial part of how we connect with each other. We are wired for connection.

In my September blog post, I offered some deceptively simple tips on how partners can better communicate with each other by speaking clearly, kindly, and directly. I’m now back with part 2: effective tools to help us all tighten up our listening skills. 

We long to be heard, seen, and understood by the people closest to our hearts, but finding connection through communication can get a bit tricky.  Becoming a Jedi-level listener takes practice and intention. We need to learn to be present with our own discomfort.

Contrary to popular belief, being a good listener is a learned skill, not our natural tendency. We tend...

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Communication 101: Speak and Be Heard, Part 1

By Kara Hoppe, MA, LMFT

PACT Level 2 Therapist

karahoppe.com


As a couple therapist, I’ve learned that relationships are like fingerprints: each one is unique. Even though each couple reaches out for couple therapy for a variety of reasons, they all, at some point during our initial consultation, ask for the same thing – communication tools. 

Communicating with your partner can be downright difficult. Some topics are hard to talk about so partners stay silent, which can create a sour divide in the partnership. Or, topics are so emotionally charged that each conversation becomes a boxing match. This combined with the modern jam-packed, full-tilt, boogie busy lifestyle that many of us occupy, it’s no wonder that couples are struggling with a capital S.

In this and my next PACT blog, I’ll be sharing communication tools you can use in your relationship right now. This post focuses on speaking. The goal is to speak directly, clearly, and kindly so...

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The Poetry of Couple Communication

Susan B. Saint-Rossy, LCSW
PACT Level III candidate
Ashburn, VA
www.relationship-therapist.com

Most couples who come to me identify their main problem as lack of or poor communication. Many times, couples believe that if they just learned to communicate properly, their relationship would be “fixed.” Thus, various therapeutic schools have come up with techniques (e.g., active listening, the use of “I” statements) to give order to a messy, complicated process. From the PACT perspective, these approaches can oversimplify a couple’s situation.

PACT recognizes that communication is complex, nonlinear, and multidimensional—much like poetry. Couples’ communication includes the symbolic language of words, micro-expressions, body language, tone of voice, and other elements. There is no one-to-one correlation between words and meaning, or...

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