Weekly Intervention Ideas: December 7th Edition

Theme: Navigating Difficult Relationships

Kid strategy of the week:

Assertive vs. Aggressive communication: Use the following images and ideas to teach children about aggressive vs. assertive communication using the ideas of “Aggressive Alligators” and “Assertive Lions.” Talk about difficult relationships (peers, adults, teachers, etc.) in which the child could practice being an “Assertive Lion” instead of aggressive or passive.

Aggressive vs. Assertive Communication handout

How to be an assertive lion handout


Sample Progress Note: The focus of the session was (tailor based on treatment plan). The therapist provided psychoeducation on aggressive, assertive, and passive communication using visual aids, and assisted the Ct in thinking about ways to make their communication more effective with difficult people.The child (was/was not) engaged in processing these concepts and trying to apply them to their relationships.

Couples strategy of the week:

Dreams within Conflict to Navigate Difficult Relationships: Partners’ difficult relationships with people outside of the couple system (e.g., friends, family) can create conflict within the couple. Sometimes couples can feel gridlocked when it comes to conflict about navigating difficult relationships outside of the couple. To start making progress, try using Gottman’s Dreams within Conflict strategy:

Speaker (Dream Speaker): The speaker’s task is to openly discuss their feelings, values, and beliefs about the difficult relationship in order to start uncovering what these tell them about what their “dream” might be behind their opinion. The goal is to determine what the speaker actually wants from their relationships, as well as help the listener understand the speaker’s “dream.”

Listener (Dream Catcher): The listener’s job is to help the speaker feel safe while they discuss their feelings, values, and beliefs about the difficult relationship openly. The listener can ask open ended questions to help the speaker uncover their “dream,” but the listener should avoid solving the problem.

Sample Progress Note: The focus of this session was…. The therapist helped the couple use strategies from Gottman Therapy to improve their communication skills while discussing a challenging topic related to interpersonal distress. The couple was (able to/somewhat able to/unable to) use strategies from Gottman Therapy while discussing the challenging topic, and they reported that discussing the challenging topic was (frustrating/helpful/stressful/etc).

Adult strategy of the week:

Navigating Difficult Relationships FAST: The acronym, FAST, comes from dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), and it describes how to promote self-respect while navigating challenging relationship situations:

F – Fair, show fairness to yourself and the other person.

A – Apologize and take responsibility only when appropriate.

S – Stick to your values to preserve your sense of integrity

T – Truthful, be truthful and avoid bending the truth (e.g., exaggerating, acting helpless)

For more information, click here

Sample Progress Note: The focus of this session was…. The therapist helped the client process their emotions related to interpersonal distress and practice using interpersonal effectiveness skills from DBT (i.e., FAST). The client was (able/somewhat able/unable) to identify and express their emotions in session, and they reported the practicing interpersonal effectiveness skills was (helpful/not helpful/frustrating/interesting/etc.).

Mindfulness/Meditation of the week:

Meditation for Navigating Difficult Relationships (guided, recording, 10 minutes)

Click here for meditation

Sample progress note: The focus of this session was… The therapist led a meditation activity (i.e., Navigating Difficult Relationships). Ct. (engaged/did not engage in the activity), and they reported that the activity was (helpful/difficult/not helpful)

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