Do Couples Communication Workshops Work?
Communication issues can have a significant, negative impact on the quality of your relationship. It’s also one of the most frequent and damaging patterns within a relationship, and often why couples seek help from a couples communication workshop or a couples therapist. But the question you may have is do couples communications workshops really work?
Attending a couples communication workshop or working with a couples counselor are both great options for anyone struggling with communication, but there are significant differences between the two. Read on to discover the benefits of each and how therapy provides a more personalized approach.
What’s getting in the way of effective communication between you and your partner?
Some of the behaviors that contribute to poor communication include:
- Being overly defensive
Although we all desire to feel loved and supported by our partners, sometimes even the best of intentions get misunderstood, and get lost in other emotions, such as anger, sadness, or numbness.
Healthy communication, on the other hand, includes:
Expression of thoughts and emotions in an exact way
- Active listening
Couples Communication Workshops
Couples communication skills workshops introduce you and your partner to skills that allow you to understand the needs of each other. These workshops are beneficial in addressing communication problems because they provide evidence-based interventions and tools in an intensive 2-3 day period and typically include some of the following strategies:
- Practical communication skills
- Clarify relationship issues and choices
- How to model healthy relationships
- How to bring more passion and playfulness into your relationship
As these strategies are beneficial to know, sometimes working with a couples counselor can clarify and personalize the same material based on your relationship.
Many couples will find ways of ignoring the fact that they lack the skills to manage conflict and dilemmas well for no fault of their own. Instead, they live with underlying resentments that grow over the years, and they become more disconnected from one another. If you and your partner prefer private sessions’ privacy and personalization, couples therapy can be helpful.
Couples therapy is an open-ended process in which the therapist can adapt specifically to your needs. Your therapist takes the time to understand your and your partner’s
needs and will work at a comfortable pace for you and your partner to fully comprehend the skills needed to overcome communication issues.
Communication skills training intends to improve the clarity with which members of relationships express their thoughts and emotions and listen to and understand each other’s messages.
Additionally, your therapist can help you with:
Identifying personal communication styles
It’s prevalent for couples to have different styles of communication. You don’t always have to agree with your partner to have good communication.
You can respectfully agree to disagree, understanding where both of you are coming from. Good communication promotes better understanding, acceptance, and collaboration—instead of constant disagreement and conflict.
There are four basic styles of communication. Even though you might use several techniques in different situations, usually, you will typically lean towards one style.
- Passive communication prioritizes the needs, wants, and feelings of others – even at your own cost.
- Aggressive communication occurs when only your needs, wants, and feelings matter. You may ignore the needs of your partner or try to overpower them. Blame, shame, disrespectful language are tools meant to dominate conversations
- Passive-aggressiveness communication tends to involve indirect expressions of hostility through subtle insults, moody behaviors, and stubbornness.
- Assertive communication meets the needs of both you and your partner. When you can clearly express your opinions and take responsibility for yourself without judgement, you’re communication assertively. This is typically the goal of healthy communication training, as it incorporates compromise and engagement.
Understanding these four styles will help you effectively respond to difficult conversations with your partner. Once your communication style is identified, it is easier to identify other potential areas for improvement.
Couples communication workshops introduce these styles of communication, while a trained couples counselor can help you and your partner examine communication strategies to determine whether each partner’s style appropriately conveys thoughts, goals, and needs.
Research indicates that you can cope with stress and meet daily life demands if you understand your strengths. When you know your strengths, you experience a boost in confidence and an increase in positive emotions – qualities that can enhance your relationship.
Identifying your partner’s strengths will also benefit your relationship. When you and your partner are aware of what you each bring to the relationship, it will be easier to build a foundation for open communication.
Cope with daily stressors
Whether a stressor is positive or negative can affect your relationship and disrupt communication with your partner. Coping with stress is one of the frequently missed aspects in workshops, but is an underlying issue in many communication problems.
Predictably, stress makes it harder for any of us to be the compassionate, patient, unconditionally loving person our partner needs us to be.
Working with a couples counselor will teach you how to identify a stressor’s source and change your stress reaction when it cannot be changed.
Active listening is a specific skill and is taught in many couples workshops, and can be perfected by working with a couples counselor. When you can reflect on your own emotions and gain self-awareness, you’re better able to communicate with your partner.
Active listening involves making a concerted effort to slow down and listen with an open heart and mind. Sometimes, when we’re listening to our significant other, we’re not entirely present. Often in conflict-or, even regular conversations, we’re distracted or thinking about how we’ll respond, rather than mindfully paying attention to what the other person is saying.
A lack of active listening leads to interruptions, feeling misunderstood, and can lead to further conflict. Like any new habit or goal, it takes time to perfect and incorporate. Working with a trained counselor will guide you in understanding active listening and others like it.
How to have tough conversations
Couples counseling is an agreed-upon place and time, with a definite start and end for having tough conversations. Complicated relationships can go astray outside of the counseling room for many reasons- whether it’s stressed or you feel caught off guard by a topic.
While couples communication workshops introduce the skills needed for those tough conversations, putting those skills into practice with a good couples counselor takes time and practice.
Eventually, you and your partner can effectively have these conversations at home. Starting on the right foot makes it more likely that you and your partner will both feel heard, validated, and respected.
Communication is an opportunity to get closer to your partner. Once you learn how to improve communication with the privacy and personalization of couples counseling, you can discuss even the most delicate topics. This will increase your trust and dedication to one another.
Further, it’s essential to choose a therapist who has experience working with couples and a good fit for both you and your partner. Washington Psychological Wellness will work with you as a couple to meet your treatment goals and expectations. Our clinicians will facilitate communication between you and your partner to uncover the roots of the conflict you’re having, help you understand each others’ feelings, and change behavior to meet each others’ needs better.
Approaching difficult relationship problems isn’t easy, but the reward of resolving them is much greater than the cost.