A lack of caring, compassionate, understanding and/or intimate relationship communication is a common complaint heard by many therapists, counselors, and Relationship Specialists; not to mention husbands and wives and/or partners. Although this next statement might strike you as odd, in too many cases, inexperienced therapists and couples mistakenly believe that the members of a couple are having a difficult time talking with each other.
Although sometimes (for some people, often) couples do have difficulties communicating, more often than not husbands and wives or intimate partners are saying exactly what they mean to say "loudly and clearly." The challenge for most relationships (and many relationship counselors) isn't the inability of the couple to be conversant. Rather, just the opposite, it's just much more likely that one member of a couple or the other doesn't like what their spouse or intimate partner is saying (or doesn't like what they're not saying).
Steven M Cohn, PhD
The Portland Couples Counseling Center
1940 NE Broadway
Portland, Oregon 97232
Not liking what someone is saying (or not saying) is, quite frankly, not something that can be fixed by trying to teach couples how to communicate better.
Unfortunately, too many therapists (often under pressure from indifferent and/or greedy insurance companies demanding "short-term therapy") take the easy route and simply
give their clients handouts about "how to communicate better." And sometimes (again, possibly due to insurance company pressures) these handouts are given at the end of a first session; arguably before a truly thorough assessment could be performed. This might make the couple feel better as in "oh, we just have to learn what it says on this handout and we'll be fine." But, when it comes to couples, this statement is often true: "If you have a simple solution to a complex problem, it's probably the wrong solution."
Perhaps worse, far to many therapists attempt to teach their clients a failed relationship technique called "reflective listening." That's where you say something to your partner and your partner parrots it back to you. The research is clear: although this technique appears to work great for parrots, reflective listening does not work in human relationships.
The articles in this section are designed to teach couples what does work and how to improve
(which sometimes means focusing on something other than communications).
The first article in this series is titled: Marriage Communication.
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Steven M. Cohn, PhD is honored to have been featured on CNBC.com.
Steven Cohn is pleased to have been featured on Koin 6 Television: "Boost In The Bedroom."
Steven Cohn is pleased to have been featured on both KATU.com and KATU Channel 2 Television.