I feel statements: Write out the following statement for your client: “I feel _____________________ because (I) ________________ and I (want/wish/hope/need) _______________.”
Fill out the blanks together and come up with different scenarios for different settings (peers, teachers, parents, siblings). Talk about outcomes of different reactions to emotions (i.e.: what happens when you just yell when you are angry? what would happen if you use this?). Discuss what it feels like personally to change the reaction and have more control over the feelings. This is a great way to talk about fostering healthy communication in conflict, healthy expressions of emotion, and a good way to ask for help.
Sample progress note: The focus of this session was… The therapist engaged the Ct in an “I feel statements” activity centered around emotion identification, healthy communication, and healthy expression of emotion. Ct was (engaged/not engaged) with this intervention.
Couples strategy of the week:
Practicing Active Listening: Improving active listening skills is a great way to boost feelings of connectedness in relationships. Active listening is a way to participate in a conversation, as opposed to being an audience member. To practice active listening, try removing distractions, showing your partner that you’re listening to what they’re saying (verbally or nonverbally), asking them open ended questions, and summarizing what your partner has said using your own words. To learn more, visit https://www.therapistaid.com/therapy-worksheet/active-listening/communication/none
Sample Progress Note: The focus of this session was… The therapist helped the couple practice active listening skills to improve their communication. The couple (engaged/did not engage) in practicing active listening, and they reported that active listening was (helpful/boring/etc.)
Adult strategy of the week:
Passive, Aggressive, and Assertive Communication: Most of us use each of these styles of communication throughout our lives and in different relationships in our lives. Assertive communication is characterized by respect, confidence, firmness, fairness, and a relaxed demeanor. Review the table below to learn more about each of these communication styles. Reflect on which situations and which relationships you use each of these communication styles. To read more, visit https://www.therapistaid.com/therapy-guide/communication-techniques
Sample Progress Note: The focus of this session was… The therapist helped client understand different styles of communication, explore their experiences with different styles of communication, and practice using assertive communication. Client reported that the psychoeducation was (helpful/not helpful/etc.), they (did/did not) explore their experiences with different styles of communication, and they shared that they (enjoyed/found it difficult to/etc.) practice assertive communication.
Meditation/Mindfulness strategy of the week:
Mindfulness exercise to prepare for difficult conversations: Before having a difficult or anxiety-producing conversation, take a “mindful minute” to ground yourself. Using mindfulness prior to (as well as during!) these kinds of conversations can help you express yourself more clearly and remain emotionally present and regulated. Assist your client in practicing this “mindful minute” in session, while imagining a difficult conversation they anticipate having. Have them practice these steps on their own several times prior to having a conversation, as well as immediately before.
1. Notice your breathing. Is it fast or slow? Shallow or deep? Steady or variable? Sink into whatever breathing pattern feels most natural, most comfortable for you in this moment.
2. Briefly scan your body. Where are the areas of tension? Notice where you might feel tight, and other areas where you feel an absence of tension.
3. Visualize a cord starting at the top of your head, traveling down along your spine. Notice it follow your legs down through your seat, and visualize it connecting to the floor, then the ground, then the earth below you. Imagine this cord firmly connecting you to the center of the earth. Some people like to imagine themselves as a tree, with roots extending from their feet to deep within the ground.
4. Finally, choose something in your surroundings that you can return to anytime you feel overwhelmed during the conversation. Maybe it’s a tag on your shirt that you can hold. Perhaps you hold a cold or warm beverage that you can sip periodically, or have a rubber band around your wrist that you can twist or pull. Maybe you notice a scent in the room, the sun shining through a corner of the window, or the steady hum of traffic outdoors. Use this sensory detail as an anchor, and return to noticing it anytime you need to feel grounded again during your conversation.
Sample progress note: The focus of this session was… The therapist led a mindfulness activity designed to help the Ct engage and ground themselves prior to a difficult conversation. Ct. (engaged/did not engage in the activity), and they reported that the activity was (helpful/difficult/not helpful).
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