How couples therapy and nonviolent communication can help overcome addiction

Language is one of our most precious resources for couples therapy. It is a critical aspect that defines our species. We use language to connect with other and to help the flow of ideas.

Think about it. When you are reading you’re looking at an arranged sets of circles and lines. Your brain has learned to interpret and make meaning from these circles and lines. This is language as symbols. We can see symbols like these words you are reading right now. We can also hear symbols as sounds as well as create them to be seen and heard by others. This is the essence of communication.

The evolution of our ability to communicate with each other has not come without flaws. A simple exchange of symbols is not the only process at work. We are not only wired to see, hear, and interpret symbols as words. We are also wired to see, hear, and interpret symbols as facial expressions, intentions, assumptions, judgments, and biases.

Language has become a way to express oneself, but it has also become a way to defend and attack. This latter ability is one that needs careful attention. Language can be destructive to how we interact with each other as humans.

It is the opposite of an environment that enriches language as a precious resource. Talking from a defensive, aggressive, and blaming stance is toxic. It contaminates society and relationships with negativity.

Addiction, like sex addiction and porn addiction, is an area of language that has this toxicity. It damages relationships. An addicted person will use whatever method at hand – be it deceit, coercion, defensiveness, blame, and much more.

Addictive thinking twists symbols into destructive meanings. It is self-serving and manipulative. Developing a healthy ability to communicate is a powerful tool. It helps the journey out of impaired, addictive thinking.

Nonviolent Communication, or NVC, is one method that cultivates language as a positive resource and reinforces positive communication.  Championed by Dr. Marshall Rosenberg, NVC is a method of carefully placing attention on opportunities to share oneself and receive the self of another through positive verbal and nonverbal interaction. NVC is practical, honest, and peaceful. NVC brings warm intention to the preciousness that is our human ability to use language. It is this practice that empathy can flourish and a compassionate purpose for all these symbols can be realized.

For the person struggling with addiction, this can be critical. The addict can learn new ways of communicating that builds trust and safety in all their relationships. With this new trust, the addict can feel supported and connected to others in a new way.

At Novus Relationship Counseling and Recovery Center we have couples therapists trained in non-violent communication techniques that can help you and your partner communicate in ways that leave you both feeling good. It takes practice but with some help, like couples therapy, you can learn these skills to create the relationship you want.

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