The Family Forum: A Simple Way To Improve Communication
by Robert H. Phillips, Ph.D.

Friction between family members can often be attributed to problems with communication. Accordingly, one of the best ways to start smoothing things out within the family is to work on improving communication.

So what can you do?

There is a simple strategy that can accomplish a lot. The family forum is a strategy that can help you to restore some constructive communication within your family. Here are the steps to make this strategy work:

  • Set aside a regular period of time (from 30-60 minutes is usually ideal, but shorter or longer can work, too, if it’s agreed upon) when all members of the immediate family can sit down in a comfortable place.
  • Arrange for few, if any disturbances. (No answering phone calls, responding to texts, leaving the room, or anything else that could be distracting.)
  • Each person should have a pre-determined amount of time (5 minutes is enough to start) to gripe, air grievances, cry, or anything else, as long as it is intended to be constructive. No one should interrupt.
  • Reactions should occur after each person has had their five minutes. Any reactions should be constructive: the goal should be, “what can we do to make this better”.
  • It can be helpful for each family member to have a pencil and paper to jot down some notes.

Sounds formal? In a way it is, but it’s a very good way to start improving damaged lines of communication. Subsequent family forums should continue to work on communication, as well as coming up with specific, agreed-upon goals for change.

How Can We Help?

Many people from all over the world have benefited from the successful, strategy-packed mental health services offered by The Coping Counselors at the Center for Coping. You can, too!

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