Couple Communication Skills

I specialize in communication counseling.  Effective couple communication, conflict management, and awareness of a partner’s basic personality are major targets of this counseling.
My qualifications for this specialization are unique.  I am a psychologist, dramatic artist, mediator, and certified coach.
1.  Having earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in Dramatic Arts , I learned a great deal about effective communication.
I learned that acting is interpersonal communication behavior, and that effective communication/behavior/acting is verbal and (especially) non-verbal behavior with a clear purpose Whether it is rehearsed behavior for a public audience or spontaneous behavior in a private interpersonal setting, we communicate interpersonally with a purpose – whether we’re always aware of that purpose or not.   Therefore, when the stakes are high, especially in a conflict situation, we have to be very, very clear about the purpose of our communication and what we really want as an outcome from what we do.  If we want new and different responses from our partner, we usually have to demonstrate new and different communications/behavior ourselves – first!
How can we do that?  By applying some of the methods that help dramatic artists generate new authentic verbal and non-verbal communication/behaviors so they successfully achieve their characters’ goals.   Among these methods are:
  • Understanding and accepting that what your partner understands and hears may not be what you mean to be saying!  If you want to be understood, you have to use the language your partner recognizes and accepts as the “acceptable” or “preferred” method of communicating that message.
  • Achieving a specific objective(s) of your communication – what specific response(s) do you want your behavior to elicit from your partner?
  • Maintaining realistic expectations about the kind and timing of your partner’s reactions/behavior to your communication, i.e. immediate, intermediate, and long-term reactions;
  • Listening with your eyes, ears, and self-control to take time to apprehend your partner’s meaning :  What is s/he really saying?
  • More listening – without judgment;
  • Monitoring your partner’s reactions to your communication/behavior so you can modify your next communication or repeat what got you the response you sought;
  • Willingness to experiment with verbal and non-verbal communication/behavior unfamiliar to you , or that you once used, but forgot.
  • Practice will be required.
For more on the subject, read about Therapeutic Acting .
These same acting methods help real couples hear and respond to each other in new ways; and, they learn to use feedback to shape their next informed verbal and non-verbal communications/behaviors, if they aren’t getting the response they hoped for.
2.  As an acting teacher & director , I’ve coached actors toward new, effective authentic verbal and non-verbal behaviors that communicate their characters’ needs and objectives unequivocally, so they achieve their goals with other characters and move the story forward.  People in real life have to do the same thing to get what they want.
3.  As a psychologist , I have had special training in
  • personality analysis,
  • the effect of personality on preferred style of communication – – whether that method works or not –      and
  • couples counseling methods and formats presented by different couple counseling educators/experts.
4.   As a psychologist for decades , I have the know-how for dealing with the intra- and inter-personal anger, anxiety, expectations, frustration, hurt, guilt and stubbornness that often interfere with effective communication.
5.  As a research-based psychologist , I can detect barriers to effective communication
stemming from:
  • negative early life experiences and learning that affect communication;
  • treatable and diagnosable mental health conditions that interfere with good communication; and
  • ineffective communication patterns you and your partner engage in habitually.
6.  As a brain-based psychologist, I know how to provide support, guidance and training (for brain re-wiring) to promote important strengths such as self soothing, patience, and curiosity-generating interest in your partner – which inspire “connecting communication.”