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  • Writer's pictureRobert Davies

Counselling Couples: Phil & Trish Part 2

Updated: Nov 22, 2019

Phil believes his wife is a bed bug. He can't make a simple bed without her bugging him! In short, he is peeved with his wife, but he is willing to learn how to communicate better. At present, he is not a happy camper. He'd tried to do his best at making up the bed in the extra room. His wife, Trish, did not like the job he'd done. This did not sit well with him. The story of two bed bugs ensued.

Don't Let the Bed Bugs Bite

Philip's Understanding Begins

Robert Davies © 2019

“Okay, Philip, as I said before: the next time we meet, we’d look at how you communicated your thoughts to Trish the first time. Then we’d see how you could have done a better job. Sounds good?”

“Sounds good.”

By the way, what was it again? What did you both say about the bed making?”

This would be STEP ONE.

Trish had said …

“Don’t bother making the bed if you can’t do it right!”


I …

Said nothing and walked away.

“Thanks, Phil. Now, let’s see if that is good or bad communication.”

“Okay, Bob.”

This would be STEP TWO.

“Look at the criteria below for good and/or bad communication, Phil. Put an X beside any area of good and/or bad communication you both did or didn’t cover when Trish said what she said, and you acted the way you acted.”

E = Empathy

1. You acknowledge the other person’s feelings and find some truth in what he or she is saying.

A = Assertiveness

2. You express your feelings openly, directly, and tactfully using “I feel" statements i.e. I felt frustrated and put down when you told me not to bother making the beds if I couldn't do a decent job.

R = Respect

3. You convey caring and respect, even if you’re feeling frustrated or annoyed with the other person.

“Well, Bob. I didn’t do so well. I didn’t show empathy. I didn’t assert myself. I suppose I did disrespect my wife by just walking out without a word.”

“I appreciate your being honest here, Philip. Now, you tell me if your wife had good communication in that exchange. Did Trish pass?”

“Well, no. She had no empathy. She wasn’t tactful or respectful and didn’t use any ‘I feel’ statements.”

“To sum up, Philip, can we say both you and Trish didn’t do well?”

“Yep, we both blew it. We both flunked, hands down.”

“Philip, lets look at what negative emotions you had during that exchange. Look at the rows below and pull out what feelings you had and what feelings you might guess that Trish had.”

This would be STEP THREE.

Sad, blue, depressed, down, unhappy

Hopeless, discouraged, pessimistic, despairing

Anxious, worried, panicky, nervous, frightened

Frustrated, stuck, thwarted, defeated

Guilty, remorseful, bad, ashamed

Exhausted, tired, drained, overwhelmed

Inferior/ worthless/ inadequate/defective/incompetent

Angry, mad, resentful, annoyed, irritated, upset,

Lonely/unloved/unwanted/rejected/ alone/ abandoned

Confused, mixed-up, uncertain, perplexed

Embarrassed, foolish, humiliated, self-conscious

“So, how about you, Philip. How did you feel at the time?”

“Well, Bob, I felt rejected as if my effort at bed making were pushed away, not accepted. I felt frustrated because I had done what I thought was a good job. However, according to Trish, it wasn’t good enough. I also felt pessimistic, thinking that there wasn’t any chance in heaven that’d she accept any of my attempts at bed making. Basically, I felt she had written me off. Because of all of this, I felt angry which included feeling mad, resentful, annoyed, irritated , upset and furious. I can also add drained. I’d really tried to do the best job because she likes everything looking the best. This was zapping my energy.”

“How about Trish?”

“Well, I can only guess but she must have felt frustrated, too. I can add anxious because I know she gets concerned about looking good, her home I mean … tidy and clean. She might have felt discouraged at my attempt at bed making and hopeless, as if there was no way I’d ever learn to do things up to her standard. Of course, if I don’t share her expectations of what good bed making is, then she might feel lonely. You know, kind of isolated and on her own.

Okay, Philip, the next step is to pinpoint the communication errors you made. Look at these two lists. Anything ring a bell?”

This would be STEP FOUR.





“Well, Bob, it was all about TRUTH – I’m right and your wrong. I’d say Trish would have the same communication error. Certainly, it was about BLAME. She blamed me for doing a rotten job, and I blamed her for having unrealistic expectations. I was guilty of MARTYRDOM where I usually play the innocent victim. PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE is bang on. I did say nothing and walked away. I guess I was guilty of DEMANDINGNESS and Trish, too. I basically used my silent treatment on her demanding she back off, and she demanded a better job. There is also DENIAL ‘cause I pretended not to be upset. MINDREADING – I expected Trish to read my mind. That’s it. I can see lots of communication errors on both sides.”

“Phil, that’s it for today. When you come back, we’ll work on a more communicative response to Trish’s statement.”

“Thanks, Bob. See you next time.”

Finish reading about Phil and Trish in the third part - Counselling Couples: Phil & Trish - Part 3

Dear Reader,

Most people like stories, and therapy is all about stories. Telling stories about powerful techniques used in TEAM CBT therapy and TEAM CIT therapy demystify these therapies one story at a time.Yet, confidentiality is a cornerstone of all counselling. Without confidentiality, clients wouldn’t feel safe going to therapy to divulge the most painful areas of their lives. To safeguard clients while illustrating TEAM CBT or CIT techniques, confidentiality is kept by either having the client’s consent or by distorting the facts, making the client unrecognizable .

Robert Davies

Counselling Therapist

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