Category Archives: Therapist Articles

Communication Styles: Which One Are You?

Communication is an important aspect of daily life. Every single day, you communicate with someone. Although everyone uses communication, not everyone uses the same communication style. In fact, there are four different styles of communication, which includes passive, aggressive, passive-aggressive, and assertive.

If you often feel that communication is a problem for you, you might be using one of the less favored styles. Identifying which of the communication styles you use can help you work on your communication skills so you can communicate more effectively with others.

Passive

Passive communicators often go to great lengths to avoid expressing their feelings and opinions. As such, a passive communicator often fails to stand up for his or her rights. If you are a passive communicator, you might fail to meet your needs or the needs of others through communication.

You can usually identify a passive communicator through their posture. For instance, if you are a passive communicator, you may speak very softly. You may also often use apologetic phrases when speaking. Also, passive speakers often avoid making eye contact, and they tend to display a somewhat slumped or hunched over posture.

When it comes to communication styles, you will discover that a passive speaker often uses phrases such as:

“It really doesn’t matter to me. It’s whatever your prefer.’”

“I would much rather just maintain peace.”

Although maintaining peace is good, that does not mean you should let someone take advantage of you. It is also okay to consider what someone else wants to do, but you do not have to concede every single time a situation arises. Instead, you should work together to come up with an amicable agreement on a situation.

Aggressive

As far as communication styles, aggressive forms of communication are often harmful toward others. You can tell almost right away when a person is an aggressive communicator. You can hear it in the way they speak, see it in the way they act, and you may even feel it depending on the impact of their words and tone of their voice.

Aggressive communicators often speak loudly using an emphasized tone of voice. Furthermore, they are often demanding, caring more for their own needs rather than the needs of others. A person who uses aggressive communication has no trouble holding eye contact, though they often do so intensely as a way of dominating the conversation or intimidating the other person.

A person who speaks aggressively may use phrases such as,

“Everything is always your fault.”

“I am always right.”

Passive-Aggressive

Passive-aggressive communication is no better than either passive or aggressive communication. In fact, all three styles of communication can lead to difficulty. A person who uses passive-aggressive communication often appears passive on the surface, but they are often aggressive at their core.

Passive-aggressive speakers often feel a sense of powerlessness, which makes them feel weak. As a result, they develop a form of resentment, regret, and sometimes hatred. As such, they will indirectly act out aggressively. A passive-aggressive communicator may seem agreeable to you but will mutter quietly to themselves rather than speaking up and confronting people or issues.

A passive-aggressive speaker may say things like,

“I think your idea is fantastic!” (then proceeds to mumble to self “your idea is awful”)

“I think that is a good idea, but others may not feel that way.” (Others the person is referring to is his or her ownself).

Assertive

Finally, of all the communication styles, you have assertive, which is by far the best of them all. Assertive speakers are able to communicate their thoughts and feelings openly and honestly. They are more than happy to speak up if there is something they do not like or agree with, but they take the thoughts and feeling of others into consideration.

Assertive speakers keep the lines of communication open. They are willing to convey their thoughts and feelings, but they are also willing to listen to the thoughts and feelings of others. They can speak without dominating the conversation or seeming overbearing. Assertive communicators often use “I” phrases, too, which allows for better communication overall.

Phrases commonly used by assertive speakers include,

“My choices are my own, and I accept that.”

“I respect your thoughts and feelings.”

“I believe we are each entititled to our own opinions.”

To ensure that you communicate assertively, make it a point to use “I” statements more frequently. You should own the statements you make and your strengths as well as your flaws. Also, make sure you maintain eye contact with the person you are speaking to. Ensure that your tone of voice expresses your desires in a confident manner. Finally, learn that saying “no” is okay.

Now that you understand the different methods of communication, can you identify which one you are? If you find that you are anything but an assertive communicator, you should consider seeking assistance from a therapist. A therapist can provide different ways to help you improve your communication skills.

Monica Ramunda is a cognitive behavioral therapist with offices located in Louisville and Denver, Colorado for in-office visits. With a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology and more than 16 years experience in therapy and counseling, Monica works as both a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Registered Play Therapist (RPT) with adults and children respectively. Much of Monica’s success is based on her eclectic orientation and drawing on a wide range of different approaches and techniques all while remaining strongly grounded in the principles of Cognitive Behavioral Techniques (CBT).

DBT: How to Self-Soothe

A person who suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), often has a hard time dealing with stress. As such, the person usually develops unhealthy habits. For instance, you might smoke, abuse drugs, drink alcohol or develop an eating disorder.

Fortunately, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) can help. Many people turn to DBT for self-soothing skills. DBT teaches you how to improve your distress tolerance using self-soothing measures. With the right self-soothing measures, you can calm your mind and feel more at east in a stressful situation.

Train Your Senses

When a stressful situation arises, it often makes you feel as though you have no control. Rather than allowing stress to control you, you must learn to manage your stress. The best way to do that is to learn coping methods that self-soothe you into a calmer state of mind. Use your five senses to do that, which includes sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch.

Sight

Start by using your eyes. When you feel stressed, look for something that is calming. Look around you and find something beautiful that is easy on the eyes. For instance, if there are flower nearby, admire them for a moment to help ease your stressed out mind.

Another idea is to surround yourself with colors that make you feel calm or happy. Keep in mind that blue and green are often calming colors. In fact, experts usually agree that blues and greens can help reduce a person’s heart rate. When you are stressed, your heart rate tends to rise, so bringing it back down with calming colors is a good idea.

Sound

When it comes to DBT for self-soothing skills, you will find that your hearing is just as important as your sight. Use your ears to help bring you back to a calmer state. If necessary, throw in some earbuds and listen to your favorite tunes.

If it is possible, go for a walk or drive until you find the soothing sounds of nature, such as water running, birds chirping, or the wind blowing. If you prefer quiet rather than noise, do your best to quiet any external noises using earplugs. Filter out sounds and allow your ears to enjoy the soothing sound of silence.

Smell

Your nose can be just as helpful as your eyes and ears, especially when it comes to using DBT for self-soothing skills. DBT focuses on all of your senses, which includes your sense of smell. Certain smells can have a calming effect on the mind and body.

If there is a particular scent you like, take it with you. Some necklaces allow you to always smell your favorite essential oils, perfumes, or colognes. Whenever you begin to feel stressed, grab for the small vial around your neck and breathe in your favorite scent until you start to feel calmer.

Another idea is to stretch your legs and take in deep breaths of fresh air. Fresh air can often help you clear your head so you can think more clearly. The clearer your mind, the better you will be at handling stressful situations.

Taste

Believe it or not, your mouth can be just as helpful as the rest of your body when it comes to self-soothing. When you are stressed and upset, you won’t consider the power your mouth has to help you. However, when you use your sense of taste properly, it can calm you.

To begin with, make sure you keep a stock of mints or gum on you. Chew the gum or suck on the mints and focus on it. The goal is to preoccupy your mind to take it off of whatever has you feeling stressed.

Another suggestion is to make sure you have a stock of herbal teas on hand at home or work. When you start to feel stressed out, warm up some tea for yourself. Choose soothing herbal remedies and mixtures to help relax you further.

Touch

Finally, as far as DBT for self-soothing skills, you will discover that your hands are just as important. Your sense of touch can significantly improve your mood. For instance, keep a bottle of lotion handy. Work the lotion onto your skin or into your hands when you feel stressed. Focus on how it feels on your skin to help soothe you.

You could also use your hands for various tasks, such as gardening. Digging in the dirt and gardening in general often have a calming effect on your mind and body. Feeling different textures can also help calm you. You could also try using your hands to massage your neck when you feel stressed, which helps relieve tension in your muscles.

If you find that despite your best efforts, you are still struggling with stress, it is best to speak to a therapist. A therapist can provide you with DBT exercises to help teach you how to self-soothe so you can better manage your reactions to stressful situations.

Monica Ramunda is a cognitive behavioral therapist with offices located in Louisville and Denver, Colorado for in-office visits. With a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology and more than 16 years experience in therapy and counseling, Monica works as both a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Registered Play Therapist (RPT) with adults and children respectively. Much of Monica’s success is based on her eclectic orientation and drawing on a wide range of different approaches and techniques all while remaining strongly grounded in the principles of Cognitive Behavioral Techniques (CBT).

Are You Satisfied with Your Relationship? Take the Quiz to Find Out

Are you happy with the relationship you share with your significant other or spouse? Do the two of you bask in your strengths as a couple and successfully tackle weaknesses? If so, you might be well ahead of the game. In truth, many couples often face tons of issues that cause dissatisfaction. Of course, that does not mean your relationship is doomed to fail.

Determining if you are satisfied with your relationship can help you identify weaknesses and work on them together. Once you determine your satisfaction and areas of weakness, you and your partner can decide if it is something you want to work on, or if it is better to go your separate ways. A simple quiz can help you determine your level of satisfaction.

The Satisfaction Quiz

Use a scale between 0 and 6 to determine your level of satisfaction. The scale is as follows:

0 – Very Dissatisfied

1 – Moderately Dissatisfied

2 – Somewhat Dissatisfied

3 – Neutral

4 – Somewhat Satisfied

5 – Moderately Satisfied

6 – Very Satisfied

Using the scale above, rate the following as honestly as possible:

  • Willingness to communicate and be open with one another
  • Ability to resolve conflict and be open with one another
  • Level of affection and caring you offer to one another
  • Ability to share intimacy and closeness in a way that satisfies you both
  • Happiness with your current role in the relationship
  • Happiness with your partner’s current role in the relationship
  • Overall happiness and satisfaction with the relationship as a whole

When you are finished scoring the statements above, total them up. The total will provide you with a score that will determine if you are satisfied with your relationship or not. The scores are as follows:

0-10 – Extremely Dissatisfied with the Relationship

11-20 – Very Disssatisfied with the Relationship

21-25 – Moderately Dissatisfied with the Relationship

If you score above 25, then your relationship is average or above average, and any problems you experience are not beyond the realm of normalcy. In those instances, it should be reasonably simple for the two of you to find a workable solution to your problems. However, if you determine that you are dissatisfied with your relationship, the two of you will need to work on the problem areas.

If you find that you are not satisfied with your relationship and you need additional assistance, it is best to make an appointment with a therapist. A therapist can help you identify problem areas that are causing your dissatisfaction. Furthermore, a therapist can assist you in finding ways to work on those problem areas so you and your significant other can get back on track with a healthy relationship.

Monica Ramunda is a cognitive behavioral therapist with offices located in Louisville and Denver, Colorado for in-office visits. With a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology and more than 16 years experience in therapy and counseling, Monica works as both a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Registered Play Therapist (RPT) with adults and children respectively. Much of Monica’s success is based on her eclectic orientation and drawing on a wide range of different approaches and techniques all while remaining strongly grounded in the principles of Cognitive Behavioral Techniques (CBT).

Workplace Depression ? How to Help as a Manager

Workplace depression is one of the most common and overlooked mental health related problems that managers and employers try to avoid dealing with. According to several statistical reports, depression affects more than 8 percent of adults in the US and can cause a loss of billions of dollars. Besides work, this depression can damage their overall quality of life and cause several other mental and physical health issues if left unchecked.

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Meditation for Lower Blood Pressure

This is no kidding! If you want to help lower your blood pressure then learn meditation techniques. It has been found those who practice meditation on a regular basis can lower their blood pressure and even lower the amount of medication they take. This interesting study was written in an article by Allison Aubrey, a correspondent for NPR news, called,?To Lower Blood Pressure Open Up and Say ?OM?.?

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Body Image Lies

In this world, there is always a shadow side to every glimpse of light. Nothing can ever be completely exposed or even true. Knowing what is true is very powerful because the truth is powerful. Along with this is also knowing what is not true. Knowing what the lie is and exposing it can always mean a sense of more power in life.

For instance, let?s apply this to women?s body image. Can you imagine already how healing it is to just go through and list what things are simply not true? Take a look at how our society exposes women. Through media publications and transmissions, we are set up to believe lies when it comes to what a woman should look like. We are blasted with images on a daily basis, of women who are touched up and altered so as not to expose the truth of what they really look like. We get to see airbrushed versions of who a person is. The images have the cellulite, stretch marks, wrinkles, bags, puffiness, and added pounds subtracted from the equation. I once saw an expose on how some photographers can actually make their models appear 10 pounds lighter. Let?s not even get into the new apps we hear about that can be used on a cell phone to create a slimmer image of us when we capture ourselves in a selfie.

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Online Cheating

Do I really want to talk about this one? Sometimes God nudges me in directions that I really don?t want to go but it is necessary. This morning it happens to be online cheating. It comes up so much more often than most of us realize. Our techie age has created wonderful ways to meet people we otherwise would not meet, but unfortunately, it is becoming the number one mode of marital/relationship infidelity. It is also becoming one of the foremost reasons for divorce in our country and others. After all, our country includes Canada, Mexico, and also the United States. Infidelity extends to the Philippines and other areas of the world. With the world at our fingertips, the possibilities are multiplied.

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Are Your Relationships Suffering Because of Your Phone?

No doubt our current technology is an amazing thing! Way back in what now seems like the stone age, we never imagined the freedom in technology we have these days. We see people while we talk on the phone or online. We transmit messages instantly and send at the touch of a button. Wow, who knew? May I add that energy makes this possible, but this blog post is not about energy, atoms, or even our personal chi. Although, I could go off on that tangent!

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Ever Wonder What Your “Self” Is?

I recall a pivotal moment when I heard the expression, ?Out of all the things you miss in life, do you miss your mind the most?? I?m not sure who first said that, but I would certainly give credit if I could. I only know it was years ago now and I had to stop and think about it. Do I miss my mind, and what does that really mean? If my mind is missing, does that mean I am out of my mind? So many questions, so little time, right?

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