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Focusing in Changing Abusive Fighting to Constructive Conflict Interactions

RWV Therapy Groups with Domestically Violent Men

Presented by Dr. Ralph Bierman, 1999
at the 11th International Focusing Conference,
Ontario, Canada

Dr. Ralph Bierman, Psychologist

Click here to see slide presentation of program effectiveness research results in PDF format  (PDF 607KB)
 (Slide show presented by Dr. Bierman at the Society for Exploration of Psychotherapy Integration, May 2006,  Los Angeles)


  1. INTRODUCTION
    1. My job as a psychotherapist
    2. My job as a psychotherapist is to enable my clients to make desired changes in their emotional and relationship processes. My clients in RWV groups join with me to process what's fuelling their anger and to change their abusive ways of treating their partners.

      Processing the sources of their anger is the focus of RWV Module 1, the first six group sessions. The role of Focusing in that emotional change work has been described in a Folio article (Bierman, 1996-1997).

      This presentation looks at RWV Module 2, the role of Focusing in enabling relationship change -- from abusive to constructive conflict interactions.

    3. Emotionally abusive conflict interactions
      1. Observational Studies of Abusive Arguments
        1. Belligerence, Contempt, Domineering
        2. Jacobson & Gottman (1998) reported laboratory observations of couple arguments. Batterers were characteristically different than nonviolent husbands in their use of responses classified as: "Belligerence", "Contempt" and "Domineering". Belligerence referred to taunting, challenging words to provoke the other. Contempt meant insulting, demeaning behavior. They found that "batterers were much more likely to be contemptuous and demeaning in the laboratory than nonviolent husbands were" (p. 65). " ‘Domineering' distinguished between batterers and other men and women much more reliably than any other response. To dominate during an argument is to squelch, to control, to suppress the behavior of another. ... to squelch the other's attempts to be a partner in the conversation" (p. 66).

        3. Resisting partner's influence

        For "nonviolent couples, a direct request, expressed in a neutral tone, will lead either to run-of-the-mill disagreement, criticism, defensiveness, or compliance" (Jacobson & Gottman, 1998, p. 61). For abusive men, their partners' requests and attempts to influence them are perceived as challenges, as threats to the men's control. The abusive men's rapid aggressive response serves their purpose of control, intimidation and subjugation. They want to quickly quiet their partners. Jacobson & Gottman found abusive men characteristically "unwilling to accept influence. ... Accepting influence is something most men (and most women) do all the time in marriages. But for the batterers in our study this process seemed to represent a loss of face, an assault to their sense of honor" (pp. 64-65; italics ours).

        The implication of the researchers' impressions regarding "loss of face" and "assault to their sense of honor" is that wives' normal requests for change and attempts to influence them trigger shame in abusive men. In our analysis of the abusive man's shame-rage cycle, their wives requests, especially their major attempts for a healthier family life, are seen by our men as signs of disdain and negative intent, signs to which they are hyper-vigilant. The abusive man then finds a quick fix by degrading his wife, making himself feel some worth by making her lower than himself. Jacobson and Gottman observed the abusive man's pattern of manifesting indifference to his partner's issue plus invalidating her attempts to influence him by contemptuously ridiculing her intelligence and appearance, calling her "stupid", "fat", "ugly".

         

      2. Our Men's Self Descriptions
      3. When I (Therapist = T) asked the men what kinds of things they say when they become verbally abusive during a beef with a woman in their lives, participants (P) responded with:

        P1: Putting her down. Calling her a fat cow, calling her an ugly bitch.

        T: Making fun of her appearance.

        P1: Actually I wasn't because actually they weren't ugly. I put her down because I was pissed off.

        P2: Hit her where it hurts -- in her looks.

        P3: It's your fault for pissing me off.

        P4: When I ended with all the other hundred, I ended with calling her "You're just a piece of shit You're no good for nothin."

        P5: I call her a dummy, a stupid idiot. I tell her to shut up.

        P6: I just close her off. I just say "Enough. That's it." She tries to talk to me and I won't hear it. I walk away. "Beat it! Get out of my face." In the heat of argument, I'll watch what I say to a point because I don't want her walkin out. Until I can't come back with nothin, then I'll say "Fuck off!". I gotta get there first. Or I'll break something that she likes. I've seen myself do that. I once threw the cat through a window. (T: Before the physical violence and before you walk away, what kinds of things would you say?) "What's wrong with you?" "Why are you being such a bitch?" Sometimes she'll shut me out, shut the door, bang the door -- I hate that! So I'll say something like "Talk about it! What the hell's wrong with you! Smarten up -- idiot!" Then it starts. It's always a power play -- like who's gonna hurt who most. Like, she knows my secrets, I know her secrets. There's always that fear of her leaving me. Walking out. So I've got to see how I can control the situation.

        P7: Sophie hates that word, "Idiot"!

        P8: I hate it when they don't fight back. As in defending themselves in any way. Then I end up getting worse. Because, it's like "Are you emotionally dead?" You're not thinkin at the time that it's fear. But at the time it's "You don't give a shit, or what?" Then things really get steamed.

        Here is a written self description of an argument with a fellow incarcerate from a participant's "Anger Journal", depicting a prototypical reaction to another's influence:



        (Click image to enlarge)

        And from another participant's "Anger Journal", again in reaction to a request for change:

        (Click image to enlarge)

      4. What's Gone Wrong?
        1. The Shame-Rage Cycle
        2. PTSD
    4. Desired conflict interactions

      Greenberg and Johnson (1988, p. 66) outline nine steps in their "Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples" (EFT). These are not linear steps but often happen in a back and forth flow. The steps can provide us with some markers for recognizing the men's changes to desired conflict interactions that happen during RWV sessions. The 9 EFT steps are:

      1. Delineate the issues presented by the couple and assess how these issues express core conflicts in the areas of separateness-connectedness and dependence-independence.
      2. Identify the negative interaction cycle.
      3. Access unacknowledged feelings underlying interactional positions.
      4. Redefine the problem(s) in terms of the underlying feelings.
      5. Promote identification with disowned needs and aspects of self.
      6. Promote acceptance by each partner of the others partner's experience.
      7. Facilitate the expression of needs and wants to restructure the interaction.
      8. Establish the emergence of new solutions.
      9. Consolidate new positions.

      In RWV, we utilize the Focusing skills which the men have learned in the Emotional Change module to access what underlies the surface conflict. In the Table below, we integrate the Greenberg and Johnson (1988, p. 66) 9 steps with Focusing Microprocesses as presented by Mia Leijssen (1998, pp. 121-154). The expanded listing provides us with a full set of markers for recognizing the men's changes to desired conflict interactions that happen during RWV sessions.

      The Focusing Microprocesses are listed within Step 3, "Access unacknowledged feelings underlying interactional positions" and in color copies are further delineated by a blue font.

       

      1. Table of Desired Conflict Interactions
      2. Couples Dialogue Guidelines

        COUPLES DIALOGUE
        GUIDELINES

        Presented by Dr. Ralph Bierman[1]

         


        PRESSING A RELATIONSHIP ISSUE

        Guidelines for Saying Your Beef

        A. OPEN A TALK TIME

        1. *"I want to talk. Are you available?" If your partner isn't ready right away, set a specific time.

        2. Appreciate something your partner did recently that made you feel cared for.

        B.     EXPRESS YOUR BEEF

        "I feel...when you do..."

        1. Describe your partner's behavior that triggered your issue. Say what your partner said or did. Keep it simple.

        2. Express how you feel about it. Pay attention to what you sense in the center of your body (chest, belly, head) and let your words come from there. Describe your bodily felt sense.

        C. EXPRESS YOUR  UNDERLYING CHILDHOOD WOUND

         ... and as a child ...

          ... it reminds me of ...

        D. SWITCH TO HEAR PARTNER'S SIDE

        1.     Thank your partner for listening to you.

        2.     Say you are now ready to listen to your partner's side of the issue.

        E.     When both your & your partner's sides of your issue have been understood--

        SAY WHAT YOU DO WANT INSTEAD

         1. Express the positive desire that's underneath your frustration -- say what you want, not what you don't want.

         2. Ask your partner for 3 positive behavior changes, things your partner could do to meet your need. Ask if your partner would give you 1 or more of those 3 requests, out of caring for you.

        GUIDELINES FOR WHAT NOT TO SAY

              Don't globalize. Don't say "always" or "never". If there's a pattern, say "often", "usually", "rarely", "hardly ever" or "a pattern".

              Don't attribute motives, feelings or thoughts to your partner.

              Don't insist you're right about what happened. If what happened is at issue, say it's how you remember it.

              Don't criticize the person's worth. Separate the person from the behavior. Be hard on the issues, soft on the person


        RECEIVING YOUR PARTNER'S BEEF

        Guidelines for Empathizing

         

        1.     *"I'm ready to listen." (Assume the active listening position)

        2. Paraphrase (I hear you saying that...)

             check it out (Am I getting it?)

                ask for more (Is there more about that?)

         3. Summarize(Let me pull it all together...)

              check it out

               ask for more

         4. Validate: *"I understand you and you make sense to me."

        5. Empathize (If I were you, I might feel..)

             check it out (Is that how you feel?)

              ask for more (Is there more about how

               you feel that you'd like to share with me?)

         

        GUIDELINES: WHAT TO AVOID

              Don't interrupt

        Put your reactions on the back burner. It may take your partner as much as 45 minutes to go through the full expressive process.

              Don't agree or disagree, just understand

        Keep yourself out of it for the time being.

              Don't defend yourself

        Understand your partner's version of  reality. You'll get your turn to say  your version of reality.

              Don't advise

        Don't tell your partner how to solve their problem.

              Don't reassure

        Don't talk the person out of hurt feelings.

              Don't criticize or blame

        Don't judge what you're hearing as good or bad.

              Don't interpret

        Understand it the way your partner means it. Don't put your own spin on it.

                Don't talk about a 3rd person or the situation

        Focus on your partner's response.



        [1] Adapted from: Hendrix, H. (1990). Getting the love you want. NY: Harper. Integrated with Gendlin, E. (1981). Focusing. NY: Bantam

        * Say these words exactly

         

We use the "Couples Dialogue Guidelines", adapted from Hendrix (1988), and combine Hendrix's Dialogue with Focusing, to develop desired conflict resolution processes.

We will now illustrate these desirable steps by an edited transcript of a conflict facing dialogue in an RWV group session. This clinical vignette shows how the men combine the Hendrix Couples Dialogue with the Experiential Focusing they developed during the first half of RWV. These men who had known only abusive or avoidant processes in dealing with conflict now process a relationship conflict in a constructive way perhaps for the first time in their lives.

    IN-SESSION CHANGE TO DESIRABLE CONFLICT INTERACTIONS DURING RWV

    Here is an edited, condensed excerpt from two RWV participants dialoguing about a relationship issue.

    This is from the session in which the "Couples Dialogue Guidelines" were first explained to the group. This happens to be the eighth group session, though we usually switch to Relationship Therapy in the seventh session.

    These two men are the first set of volunteers doing a "Friendship Dialogue" in the center of the group circle, with Ralph coaching the pair. The two men live in the same residential unit of the institution and their issue stems from their relationship on the unit. We tape recorded their dialogue as we normally taped all group proceedings and they gave me written permission to use it for learning purposes.

    Names have been changed. E: = Expresser, R: = Receiver, T: = Therapist.

    Headings indicate the steps of the Couples Dialogue Guidelines which the men are following.

    Footnotes, numbered in bold, describe desired interactions and emotional reprocessing.

    Annotations within the footnotes with brackets and numbers, e.g. [Step 3], refer to steps in the Table of Desired Conflict Interactions.

    The annotations and footnotes provide us with markers for recognizing the men's changes to desired conflict interactions that happen during RWV sessions.

     

      1. OPEN A TALK TIME
      2. E: I'd like to talk to you Tom about a few issues I have if you're ready to talk. Are you ready to talk?

        R: I'm willing to talk. I'll listen.

        T: Very good.

      3. APPRECIATE SOMETHING YOUR PARTNER DID RECENTLY THAT MADE YOU FEEL CARED FOR
      4. E: When you first came on the unit, we had a bit of a problem about a particular issue. And then we had another problem a while after that. And each time that I had a beef, and I'd fly off the handle, you were very receptive. You seemed to keep your cool and accept what I had to say to you without losing your cool. And even after I had said what I'd said, you still left the doorway open and it made me feel like you cared for me. Like you cared what I had to say. You kept the door open and you didn't close the door of communication and it meant a lot to me.

        1. Receiver paraphrases
        2. Receiver checks it out
        3. R: I hear you saying that when I first came on the unit, we had an issue that we dealt with. And then it came up again, the same issue. And that I had kept my cool and left the door open for you. Did I get it?

          E: Ya.

        4. Receiver asks for more

        R: Is there any more?

        T: First say back how he feels.

        R: And you feel how do you feel?

        E: Cared for.

        R: Cared for. Is there anything else?

        E: I like the way you joke around on the unit. It makes things a lot easier on the unit. It makes me feel at ease.

        R: What I hear you say is that when I joke around on the unit it relieves a lot of tension in you and that you feel more confident about yourself.

        E: Right.

        R: Anything else?

        E: No.

      5. EXPRESS YOUR BEEF: "I feel...when you do..."
      6. E: Ok, the one beef that I have in particular is if I ask you how you're doing today, Tom, you generalize, like you say "Wall to wall", like it's a generalization. And sometimes it makes me feel like you don't really care to share. You don't trust me enough to share about yourself. And it makes me feel not worthy.

        R: So what I hear you saying is you think I generalize my problems and I don't want to share with you because maybe you won't understand or you don't feel worthy of my problems and that you wouldn't understand them.

        E: Exactly. And I feel, sometimes, like I don't add up to your expectations as a friend and it makes me feel lesser than. Like I have to try extra hard to get your friendship. I remember one time we had a conversation and you said "I won't be friends with anybody outside of this place. I don't mind being somebody's friend in here, but outside this place I can't be anybody's friend." And it really hurt to think that I couldn't be your friend outside this place. It made me feel that it is just a superficial friendship and that's all I ever could be and it hurt me. It hurt my feelings. I don't know why, other than the fact that I like you, as a person.

        R: So I hear you say is you're real upset that I can't confide in you, and that you're upset that I said that I wouldn't have any sort of friendship or relationship outside this institution and that bothers you because you feel you have to work extra hard to get my undivided attention or friendship. Is that correct?

      7. DESCRIBE YOUR BODILY FELT SENSE
      8. {Start playing tape recorded excerpt from here}

        E: Ya. And when I talk about that, I feel, right in here (tapping his chest), it's like a hollowness, and it feels like ... I just don't ... um, like somehow I don't belong or I don't ... I don't deserve friendship. Like it's an empty sort of feeling. And I feel uh hurt. And just, just alone.

        R: So I hear you saying that you feel empty inside and you're hurt and you're alone because I won't acknowledge our friendship outside this institution. Is that what you're saying?

        E: Well, not just outside the institution, but, but inside too. Like sometimes I don't feel like you, you um, you're, you're genuine or that you care, I guess.

        R: (sigh) So, what you're saying is I, I'm globalizing or generalizing our friendship and you think that I'm just putting on, is it, like I'm putting on an act for our friendship, and that I'm not acknowledging you as a true friend. Is that what you're saying? Somebody that I could, or that you could share with and vice versa.

        E: Um hmm.

        T: (whispering to R) Go back to the hollowness.

        R: And uh, and in turn you feel hollow and empty inside and you feel hurt because you're reaching out and I'm not being receptive. Is that what you're saying?

      9. EXPRESS YOUR UNDERLYING CHILDHOOD WOUND
      10. E: Mm hmm.

        R: I see.

        E: And it reminds me of when, when I was a kid in the, the school yard. I was always the new kid on the block. I was always the new guy in school and I always had a hard time making friends. One particular friendship I had when I was in grade 8, I'd made friends with a kid during the summer holidays and then when it came time to go to school, he acted like he didn't know me and there was a big hurt there. It was just like it was ok to know me when there was nobody around and then when there was other people around it was like ‘go away'. And it really, really hurt. I often associate that with people. That does hurt right here (pointing to his chest).

        R: So what I hear you saying is, is that when you were younger in, in, in public school that you had a, had a friend who you became quite close with but when school started he didn't want to accept or acknowledge you, and this in turn left you that hollow and empty feeling inside and it really hurt you as a child, and it seems to be reoccurring a lot.

        E: Ya. It just, it makes me feel like I'm not good enough for other people.

      11. ACCEPT THE FELT SENSE, BE CARING, INTERESTED, COMPASSIONATE
      12. IMMERSE YOURSELF IN THE BODILY FELT SENSE, BECOME ONE WITH THE FELT EXPERIENCE
      13. T: Why don't you put a caring hand on the place where you feel that.

        E: I feel it right in here.

        T: Close your eyes and be right inside of that. Lose yourself in there, Frank.

      14.  
      15. RECEIVE WORDS AND IMAGES FROM THE FELT SENSE OF WHEN THIS BODILY FELT SENSE FIRST HAPPENED
      16. E: There's a lot of fear there. ... (long pause) ... I remember I got off the bus that day to go to school and I was really looking forward to meeting all his friends that he talked about that year. I was really excited about going to a new school. I got off the bus and saw Sammy right away, so I ran up to him and he said "I want you to meet my cousin Barney". Barney was a big guy and he stuck his hand out to shake mine. I shook his hand and with his other hand he came up and he punched me right in the nuts. And I fell down on the ground and was trying to catch my breath. There was a whole bunch of people around and they were laughing. Even my own brother didn't really want to be seen with me. And I laid there and I was crying and crying. And uh, I was really embarrassed (voice cracking with tears). ... I just wanted to hide my face. That's what I did the whole year, was I just hid my face. (Weeping)

        R: So what I, what I hear you saying is that you're....(missing words from cassette tape being turned over to other side) your breath, and you were lying down, and you fell down and crying and everybody was laughing at you and you felt empty and you felt ashamed and worthless. You just wanted to hide your face and run. Is that what I hear you saying?

        E: I just felt like it was all a, it was all a trick. The guy didn't really want to be my friend. He wanted somebody to make a laughing stock out of.

        R: So what I hear you saying, your friend wanted to make fun of you and he used you for his expense to make you feel worthless and empty inside. You really liked this friend and you wanted to become his friend and meet all his friends so you could feel a part of his crowd. But when his cousin turned and hit you in the groin, it made you look like the laughing stock and all you wanted to do was run and hide. And people were laughing at you. So that's how come you feel that way when I say I won't be friends with you outside of this institute and that brings back those memories. Is that correct?

        {Stop playing from tape recording here}

      17. SAY WHAT YOU DO WANT TO FEEL INSTEAD, WHAT YOU NEED TO HEAL FROM ALL THIS
      18. E: Ya. I guess what I would really like is just for you to be proud to be my friend. To say that you like me, that you want to be my friend. And to mean that genuinely, if that's what you want.

        R: Ya. So you want me to acknowledge that I'm your friend and you want it to be said with some meaning instead of just off the cuff type thing. You want it to be genuine, with some meaning behind it. Is that right?

        E: I want to feel like I'm good enough to sit with you anywhere or be with you at any time and not be an embarrassment to you. I'm good enough to listen to your problems. Be there for you. Good enough to be your friend.

        R: So I see that this is very, very important to you and you want me to be able to share my feelings and thoughts with you and you want to be able to sit with me and discuss anything, and just feel a part of a friendship. Is that what you're saying?

        E: Ya.

        R: And you want me to make you feel worthwhile. Is that what you're saying?

        E: Ya.

      19. SWITCH TO HEAR PARTNER'S SIDE
        1. Thank your partner for listening to you
        2. Say you are now ready to listen to your partner's side of the issue

        E: Thanks for listening Tom, to what I had to say. I really appreciate it. I'm ready to listen if you have anything to share with me.

        R: Well, I can understand how you might feel. If that was to happen to me, I'm sure I would feel lonely and empty and I might want to isolate myself. If I had a friend who I'd met over the summer and he didn't want to acknowledge me when he got back to his school, I could understand how you may feel and wanting to run away from the problem and isolate, you know. I am sorry that I didn't realize you were feeling this way. I'm not a very open person as you well know. I generalize a lot of things. I don't share too often because I myself have shared before, and it's come back to haunt me. So I'm very particular on who I disclose to.

        E: Ok, so I hear you saying that you understand how I felt and that you might isolate too. And it's been your experience that when you've shared with people, it's come back to haunt you so you're very particular who you share with.

        R: That's right and I again, I apologize. I didn't realize you were feeling this way. (Receiver describes his distancing pattern and how, in the therapeutic milieu of the institution, he is "teetering on the edge" of changing. He is "teetering on the edge" of risking greater emotional intimacy. Expresser understands. When R indicates that he has completed saying his side, they shift back to E completing his process.)

      20. ASK YOUR PARTNER FOR 3 POSITIVE BEHAVIOR CHANGES, THINGS YOUR PARTNER COULD DO TO MEET YOUR NEED
      21. E: Ok, instead of generalizing to people that you care about, share a little bit of yourself. How you really feel. How you honestly feel, instead of saying "Wall to wall". Saying "I feel this way..." or "I feel that way..." So when I ask you how you feel today, Tom, you will answer me with an honest approach.

        R: Ok, so what I hear you saying is instead of me generalizing or globalizing my thoughts and feelings, you want me to tell you exactly how I feel today.

        T: Ya. So that's 1 request.

        E: When we are playing bridge if you wouldn't raise your voice really loud if I made a mistake, you know, get really excited. If you could just accept that I'm a human being and I make mistakes. If you could do that.

        T: So let's put a positive side to it.

        E: How can I do this positively?

        T: That's the trick. Instead of being loud, do you want to ask him to speak softly?

        E: Yes, speak softly and realize that I just made a mistake and that it's ok to make mistakes.

        R: Ok, so what I hear you saying is when we play cards and if you make a mistake you don't want me to be loud and angry, you'd like me to be more soft spoken and more compassionate to your mistake. Is that what you're saying?

        E: Yes.

        R: And treat you like a human being.

        E: Yes.

        R: Is that what you're saying?

        E: Yes, that's exactly it.

        T: What else would make you feel like a worth while valued friend?

        E: If you would spend time with me. If you would come and sit with me and talk with me once in a while. Just out of the blue. Just like I'm one of the guys that you like to be close with.

        R: So what I hear you saying is that you want me to treat you like one of the guys. Chew the fat with you, just come sit down and say "Hi, how ya doing?" and just be more friendly, so to speak, and just inquire how you're doing and just chew the fat type thing. Is that what you're saying?

        E: Yes, exactly.

      22. ASK IF YOUR PARTNER WOULD GIVE YOU 1 OR MORE OF THOSE 3 REQUESTS, OUT OF CARING FOR YOU
      23. E: Would you, out of your caring for me, be willing to give me 1 or more of the 3 positive behavior changes that I'm asking for?

        R: So what you're saying is you're asking me to give you some of those requests to you. Is that correct?

        E: Yes.

        R: So that would help both of us grow as friends. I think what you've asked me is not unreasonable and I think they're acceptable to me and I think that they can be done in a positive way in the future. I think I can manage to do all 3, ya. I think I can manage to do all 3. Hopefully that can make us closer, better friends maybe. Maybe it can make you feel a little bit fuller inside about Frank and maybe make you not as empty and not as lonely inside and I'd be willing to do that for you.

        T: It might help you with the "teetering on the edge" for you.

        R: Ya, and it might help me with the teetering on the edge that I'm doing.

      24. DEBRIEFING

    T: You guys were terrific. We're gonna debrief for a bit, I'd like you to share with each other what that was like.

    E: At times I felt like I was very selfish. Like "What the fuck are you whining about?".

    T: You were criticizing yourself.

    E: Ya, I was criticizing myself. I felt like I was whining. I think when I actually saw what it was all about, like, there was a lot of pain there and it was good to get rid of that. Express some of that. And it felt really good that Tom could accept that. Tom listened, just to listen to it. It felt good to say what was actually on my mind and get it the fuck out of my mind so it's not in there. Get rid of it. ... It felt really good to get it out and say "I just want a friend". Somebody that likes me for who I am. That somebody could accept that. It was good.

    T: It was a bit of a struggle, because first you were critical of yourself for asking for your needs. But once you got to the big wound underneath, and Tom was truly able to hang in there to listen and to be compassionate towards you, which he really was it helped a great deal.

    E: Ya it did.

    T: Ok (turning to R), how was it for you, the whole process?

    R: It was very new to me to have such a structured conversation. I'm not accustomed to mirroring. It's something that I've been trying to do a lot more lately, but I think with practice it'll come. It was very difficult to understand where you're supposed to paraphrase it and when you're supposed to summarize it all up. But I think through practice it will come. And I know what it's like to have somebody hear you. I do it with my son a lot and I try to mirror exactly his reaction. When he's really happy, I try to get that happy state in my voice, and you can see if he's listening to you he's so much more receptive. He'd run across the room and, like "You're really listening to me". I get really excited. And I'm doing it with Ruth a lot. It's not that we're gonna be getting back together. But our conversations are so much more positive. Just by using some of the techniques we've learned in communicating. It's so much easier to have a conversation when two people are actually listening, as opposed to, like two givers or, you know what I mean. There's no give - receive. There's no flow to the communication. So it helps in communicating.

    E: I was kind of apprehensive too, I was waiting for Tom to, I thought maybe he had a beef with me. I was waiting for it and it didn't come out ...

    R: Well it does take practice. I practiced it for a long time since I've been here and it's really hard to do. You can literally feel your gushing rising up and you know like "It's ok. Why are you getting pissed off?" And you put it back down. And with this group here and the life skills book that we have on the unit, it really helps in communication. And resolving conflict. That's what I get out of it. And it takes time. I mean I haven't mastered it by any means. I'm changing, but I'm not changed. I don't know, I think that changing is like a revolution that keeps going and going, it just keeps revolving, you know.

    T: Ok, guys. Would you be willing to turn to the group now, and invite the guys to give their response to you.

    A Group Member: Did you feel foolish?

    R: At first, but not after it got going. After it got going it was genuine. It was real. Like I mean there was a lot of things that you told me that I didn't realize about you even. I felt really good about the process. I really truly did.

    A Group Member: When Frank was explaining his issues with you, was it hard for you not to say "Hey, it's not like that."

    R: Well, I kept on looking at this paper and it said "Don't advise. Don't criticize. Don't interrupt." Actually I just looked at one "Don't interrupt". I think by just not interrupting that means you're not criticizing, you're not blaming, you're not doing anything, you're just listening and being receptive. And you're not agreeing. I wasn't trying to agree or disagree, I was just trying to sort of suck it up and put myself in his shoes, you know. There was one or two that I was just about to say "Well, wait a minute..." but I had to respect that Frank has the floor at the time.

    E: It works both ways. I tried to put myself in your shoes. Like I didn't realize that you were that person.

     

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