How to Communicate to Heal, Not Hurt
Communication in addiction and its value in recovery can be overlooked and under-appreciated.
“People start to heal the moment they feel heard,” says Chery Richardson in her Week 41 blog. We understand this in the field of addiction and mental health treatment. For healing to occur within one’s self and with others, it’s critical to both listen to understand and speak in ways others may hear. Yet it is an unbelievably hard thing for people to learn how to communicate in healthy and positive ways, because most of us have spent years communicating very poorly in ways that only exacerbate problems and ruin relationships. Poor communication is pretty systemic in our society – it’s not just a communication in addiction problem. Yet, improving communication and ultimately relationships is critical to recovery.
“People start to heal the moment they feel heard,”
Communication During Treatment
This is one of the things we teach and practice at Top of the World Ranch. It is one focus of
our educational seminars and a continuous element of therapy, both in individual sessions and
in group settings. We address it head on in our Family Intensive Program, a 4 day workshop for
our clients and their family members. Ironically, the most important things – one’s feelings, fears, hopes, doubts, dreams – are often the hardest to communicate effectively. But the good news is that people can, and do learn
better ways of communicating.
New Blog Series
In this blog series, we aim to share helpful information about communication in addiction and recovery. We’ll talk about negative patterns of communication such as passive, aggressive, and passive aggressive
(definitely not the best of those types but an even more damaging variant), and we’ll describe
the good alternative – assertive communication. We’ll discuss common reasons people resort
to negative communication patterns and how to avoid doing so. We’ll talk about common blocks to listening – because you must learn to listen deeply if you hope to communicate
successfully. We’ll end with lots of tips for how to listen and how to speak so that real, honest and healing communication can happen.
Please follow along with our next few blogs, and feel free to share with anyone you know who might benefit. In the meantime, we leave you with the simple yet beautifully true words of Fred Rogers: “Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone.” Amen to that.
By June Sobocinski, M.A. Applied Communication