As a therapist in private practice, one of the most common complaints I hear from couples or family members is “we just don’t communicate well.” Usually, people mean that they don’t communicate well verbally. When this is the case, we generally work on active listening, communicating clearly, using good voice tone, etc.  But verbal communication is only one form of communication. What about nonverbal communication?

Nonverbalmay basket communication may be stronger than words at times. Consider the teenager’s eye-rolling, or a partner’s sigh, or the delighted eyes of a child. Our behaviors convey our feelings and our intentions. When I was a little girl, it was a big deal to give or receive a May basket. On the first day of May, we made little “baskets” out of construction paper and put garden flowers or treats in them. Then we delivered them to the doorsteps of the recipients, hoping not to be discovered. What was the intention behind that behavior? It was solely to let the recipient know that they were in someone’s thoughts. Quietly, with purpose.

Our world is full of chatter. On my smartphone, I could choose to email, call, text, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, or Tweet. Sometimes, it’s nice to silence the chatter. It’s nice to send a smile or a glance to someone, or bring someone a cup of tea, or deliver a May basket of sorts. This spring, as we contemplate growth and new beginnings,  think about some new ways that you can communicate your feelings without words, without chatter. I guarantee it will be a worthy experiment.



By |2017-05-19T00:20:51+00:00May 1st, 2016|relationship|0 Comments

About the Author:

Vanessa Whalen is a psychotherapist in private practice with over 20 years of experience. She sees children as well as adults in her practice, doing play therapy with children as young as three. Vanessa draws on numerous theoretical frameworks in her practice and has assisted clients in dealing with a variety of issues. Vanessa has degrees in psychology and social work and is a member of the Association for Play Therapy. In addition to her practice, Vanessa is co-founder of Snappy Kids LLC. Snappy Kids makes therapeutic mobile apps for children to help them learn about and manage feelings. She serves on the board of the Wichita Area Sexual Assault Center and is a member of the League of Women Voters. She is a musician as well and enjoys playing whenever her schedule permits. Vanessa enjoys music, gardening,cooking, good books, good movies, and the New York Times Sunday crossword. She is an ardent yogi and student of Eastern thought. She and John have two teenage sons, one of whom attends college in Chicago. Vanessa and John have been married since May 2015, and Filimin is a project they share. When they are not working, they enjoy riding the tandem bike, travel, family time, and college basketball. Through her posts in Reflections, Vanessa hopes to share some of the knowledge and insight she has gained over the years, and to maybe start a conversation or two.

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