Uncommon Therapy
Uncommon Therapy

How to start a difficult conversation

When starting a difficult conversation  it is often hard to do so without the other person feeling attacked.


The following approach is one used by many treatment programs to help avoid that situation.


The premise behind it is based on the idea that we each have our own personal understanding of reality, and that we have come to this understanding honestly and appropriately based on our experiences in life.


Therefore our perceptions, feelings, and thoughts are reasonable and valid -- for us.  That's the first part of the awareness,


The second part of the awareness is that the way we understand reality may not be the way the reality we are currently in works.  All this says is that my reality is not necessarily REAL reality, no matter how much it is real to me.


The third part is that the other person likewise has their own view of reality, which almost certainly they came to with as much validity as we did for ours.


Presenting things to reflect that, we say:


When I ....         specific perception [saw, observed, heard, etc.]

I automatically felt ....   specific feeling

and I had an automatic thought that ....    specific thought .

When I've thought more about those feelings and thoughts I've realized that I now think ....     rational conclusions 


I don't know if this is the way you see it, or even for sure that anyone else would see it just this way, but it is what is real for me.


Before you say anything, I want to say that I'm not telling you this to tell you what to do about this -- I just wanted you to know that this is what I felt and thought and am thinking now, so you don't have to guess what those are.


I'm also not saying at all that you intended me to think or feel those things -- just that this is what I did feel and think, this is how I reacted to it, whether you intended that or not.


If you want we can talk more about this now, or you can think about it.  OR 

I really don't want to talk more about this right now, but if you want to, we can talk about it....  specific time.  Would that work for you, or do you have another idea on when?


I'd really like it if we could work together on this because I don't want it to become a problem for our relationship.  I really value what we have and know we've both committed ourselves to make things work.  I think we can work together to sort this out. 



Larry Moen, LPC

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Fairbanks, AK 99701 



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Email: uncommon.alaska@gmail.com



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