Communicating Respectfully and Dialoguing Constructively: Teaching Expressive and Discussion/Negotiation Skills
Begin All Subsequent Sessions by Having Couples Share Partner Appreciations
Once the couple has been introduced to them, I recommend that the therapist begin all subsequent therapy sessions by having the couple share partner appreciations. This should involve the recipient of an appreciation empathically acknowledging it back to the giver in order to deepen its internalization. There are several advantages to beginning a couple’s
therapy session in this manner on a consistent basis. First, and most especially with highly conflicted couples, it helps the couple develop the habit of looking for something positive about a partner even in the midst of having intense feelings about a difficult issue. The hope is that over time this will begin to generalize into helping the couple learn how to keep things in perspective even when they are dealing with difficult issues on their own. Second, the sharing of appreciations helps anchor the couple back into the dynamics of the dialogue process, because each person is having to empathize with what his or her partner shares. Third, each time the couple shares partner appreciations, they are given the opportunity to have a minibonding experience fueled by positive feelings.