Communication Skills Training

  • Do your attempts to resolve problems end up making you feel worse?
  • Do the same issues keep recycling?
  • Do you feel uneasy about fully expressing your thoughts and feelings to your partner?
  • Do you struggle to be understood by your partner?
  • Does your partner feel misunderstood by you?
  • Do you find that one or both of you are “poor listeners”?

Over 25 years ago, I conducted a survey in which I asked couples who had been happily married for more than 30 years, what advice did they have to offer younger couples who were at different developmental stages of their marriage. One of their main recommendations was that good communication is essential to marital success. 

During my 25 years of clinical and research experience with couples, I have been amazed to discover the degree to which many couples do not truly understand one another on a deep level in spite of all of the “talking” that might be going on. 

In fact, one of the biggest differences between happy and unhappy couples, according to research conducted by John Gottman (1979), is that there is a mismatch between the message that the one spouse is trying to send and the impact that message has on the listener. When the intent and impact do not match, we have the essence of miscommunication. In more recent research, Gottman (1999) found that most of the time, the speaker’s intent is actually positive or neutral, but that in unhappy couples, the listener “hears” it as negative. This pattern of interaction sets forth a negative “chain” of microbehavioral events that are both psychological and physiological. One negative message then can beget another negative message and a downward spiral of emotional reactivity occurs. 

My job is to teach you specific skills (a form of behavior therapy) to help you change patterns of ineffectual interaction, negative reactions and incorrect inferences that “stuck” couples experience. I utilize a combination of techniques to teach specific listening, speaking, problem discussion and problem solving skills. The first step toward creating a safe environment in which to explore tough issues is to learn a highly effective and well-researched method of empathy developed by Bernard Guerney (1977). This specific method of empathy training has been studied and practiced for more that 30 years and has been found to be highly effective in increasing marital satisfaction, deepening mutual understanding and creating respect. 

In addition, I incorporate techniques from other forms of behavior therapy, insight-oriented psychotherapy, and family systems therapy.

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Psychotherapy for Couples, Families, and Individuals

To schedule an appointment or for more information contact us
301-907-8821 or email

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Bethesda Marriage Counseling is conveniently located in downtown Bethesda, Md. We serve the online community as well as communities in Suburban Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia including: Bethesda, North Bethesda, Boyds, Cabin John, Chevy Chase, Colesville, Cabin John, Garrett Park, Gaithersburg, Glen Echo, Kensington, North Potomac, Olney, Poolesville, Potomac, Montgomery Village, Rockville, Silver Spring, Takoma Park, Wheaton, Woodley Park, Georgetown, McLean American University Park, Tenleytown, Friendship Heights, Montgomery County 20008 20814 20016 20815 20817 20904 20812 20855 20877 20878 20879 20896 20895 20886 20830 20832 20854 20859 20850 20852 22106 22101 22102 20853 20903 20905 20906 20910 20912 20902

Services at Bethesda Marriage Counseling include: marriage counseling, relationship therapy, couples counseling, premarital counseling, counseling, and psychotherapy for couples and individuals dealing with relationship issues, infidelity, cheating, marriage, communication, conflict resolution, eldercare issues, sexual problems, divorce recovery, infertility, medical illnesses, stress management, life transitions and positive psychology coaching.