Dr. Levy's CBT Blog
Insights on Well-Being, Contentment, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
In TEAM-CBT, when patients are looking to improve their interpersonal relationships, we first spend some time analyzing the nature of the conflict that they're facing before jumping in to solve it. Even though there are as many different flavors of interpersonal conflict as there are people in the planet, if we look closer, we can find a few broad patterns of common relationship concerns.
If you are having problems with someone close to you (romantic partner, family member, boss, co-worker, etc), odds are that the issue will fall into one of these three categories:
1- Character Issues: they don't see themselves!
These are problems where you firmly believe that the person with whom you are in conflict is just flawed. They may be self-centered, dumb, histrionic, unfair, needy, controlling, unreasonable...and a lot more! For example:
"He is mean and stubborn!"
2- Appreciation Issues: they don't see me!
These are problems where you feel under-appreciated in the relationship. You firmly believe that the person with whom you are in conflict doesn't see you for everything that you do. They may frequently criticize, blame, disrespect, ignore, or belittle you. All said, they either don't value you, don't value your needs, or don't value the relationship. For example:
"They never recognize how much I do for them!"
3- Give-and-take issues: they don't see us!
These are problems where you find a fundamental imbalance in the relationship in terms of the give-and-take. It can be that the other party just doesn't listen, no matter how hard you try to communicate with them. Or they just don't share, regardless of your valiant efforts to engage them. Or it can be that they don't reciprocate when you do something nice for the relationship. For example:
"They ignore my advice!"
There are naturally many other ways of thinking about interpersonal issues. This is just one of them. But the goal here is to recognize that the first step in solving a problem is defining it! If you are suffering because the relationships in your life are not intimate, respectful, and fulfilling, cognitive-behavioral therapy can help.
Dr. Daniele Levy is a licensed psychologist offering CBT therapy in Menlo Park, CA. Her background uniquely combines leading edge training in behavioral sciences with deep expertise coaching and mentoring working professionals in dynamic organizations.