|Healthcare Training Institute - Quality Education since 1979CE for Psychologist, Social Worker, Counselor, & MFT!!
Internal Communication, External Communication,
and Non-Verbal Communication
Read content below or listen to audio.
Left click audio track to Listen; Right click to "Save..." mp3
In the last section, we looked at homophobia.
discuss the ways in which the role of the male in our society affects how men
relate to women. Here's an example of how I used a strategy called the Fishbowl
Technique. You are probably familiar with this technique. So as I describe it,
think about how you used this with your last client.
example of this struggle with empathy is found in my client, 35-year old David,
an accountant whom we discussed in a previous section. David was having trouble
understanding why his wife, Amy, was angry with him. Amy had even threatened to
leave him. David had not been spending much time with his family because of demands
in the workplace. When he realized this, he tried to change his behavior and tried
to spend more time with the family, yet Amy was still angry.
Every time she got
upset, David became afraid and would try desperately to soothe her anger. He would
do everything he could to stop her from being angry. During his third session
he stated, when he came home late from work, without telling Amy, she expressed
anger. He told her it would never happen again. David was confused as to why Amy
would not be satisfied with his response.
I explained to David,
"Intimate relationships require empathy. But as you said you are struggling
to understand Amy. Part of the problem may be that you, like many men, have difficulty
understanding your own feelings. Thus, as you stated, you cannot empathize with
The Fishbowl Technique - 3 Steps
To help David feel empathy, I told him to use the Fishbowl Technique. Here's how
I used this technique with David:
♦ Step # 1 - Observe from an Objective Viewpoint
I told him, "Envision Amy and yourself
in a fishbowl as you are arguing. Look at your behavior from an objective viewpoint now. A key to this exercise is for you to observe your external communication.
As you see yourself talking with Amy, listen to the volume, force, pace, pitch,
and tone of your voice." After some discussion, David stated, "I can
see myself being louder and more assertive than I had thought I was."
♦ Step # 2 - Pay Attention to Internal Communication
second part to the Fishbowl exercise, after observing his external communication,
was to have David paid attention to his internal communication. He listened
to his self-talk to attempt to figure out exactly what he was feeling. By doing
this, he realized that he was actually feeling hurt and frustrated and was trying
to cover that up by being aggressive.
♦ Step # 3 - Watch Nonverbal Communication
Also, in examining his
internal communication through the Fishbowl, I told David, "Look at your
nonverbal communication. Observe your facial expressions." David noticed
that when he and Amy began to argue, he would tighten his lips and knit his eyebrows.
He also noticed that he used angry hand gestures. After some discussion, he realized
these hand gestures would be threatening to Amy.
As you know,
the Fishbowl Technique is effective to enhance self-awareness. I told David
he was able to use the eyes and ears of his imagination, as well as his physical
senses, to observe his participation in his interactions with his wife. All of
these were crucial in creating empathy towards Amy.
trying the Fishbowl Technique, David realized he had never expressed to Amy
his fear when she got mad. He saw himself as less of a man when she believed he
was failing in a certain area. And as a result, he would become angry. He would
do everything in his power to stop her from feeling angry, which denied her feelings.
♦ Three Preconditions to Empathy
After the Fishbowl Technique, I explained to David he might
gain the empathy and the emotional connect he felt his relationship was lacking
after three preconditions were met. As I describe these three preconditions, think
of a client you are currently treating who might benefit from this information.
The preconditions are trust, disclosure of emotions, and motivation to understand
the other person.
-- Precondition # 1 - I told David, "First, you and Amy have
to trust each other." If there's no basic level of trust, then neither partner
will fully share himself or herself to the other.
-- Precondition # 2 - Second, there has to be the
actual disclosure of emotions between the two. I explained to David, "A man
often shares less, which means it's harder for the woman to show empathy for what
she doesn't know about her partner." Men are often poor at having empathy
for females, even though women are much more apt to share their feelings in the
-- Precondition # 3 - Third, both must be motivated to understand each other.
of your David who is lacking intimacy. Would the Fishbowl Technique, perhaps followed
by, or in conjunction with, information regarding trust, emotional disclosure,
and understanding be beneficial? In the next section, we will discuss masculine
Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Boon, S. (2010). Review of The social psychology of gender: How power and intimacy shape gender relations [Review of the book The social psychology of gender: How power and intimacy shape gender relations, by L. A. Rudman & P. Glick]. Canadian Psychology/Psychologie canadienne, 51(1), 68–69.
Davis, H., & Turner, M. J. (2019). The use of rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) to increase the self-determined motivation and psychological well-being of triathletes. Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology. Advance online publication.
Dyar, C., Feinstein, B. A., Zimmerman, A. R., Newcomb, M. E., Mustanski, B., & Whitton, S. W. (2020). Dimensions of sexual orientation and rates of intimate partner violence among young sexual minority individuals assigned female at birth: The role of perceived partner jealousy. Psychology of Violence, 10(4), 411–421
Heide, F. J. (2013). “Easy to sense but hard to define”: Charismatic nonverbal communication and the psychotherapist. Journal of Psychotherapy Integration, 23(3), 305–319.
Peterson, K. M., & Smith, D. A. (2010). To what does perceived criticism refer? Constructive, destructive, and general criticism. Journal of Family Psychology, 24(1), 97–100.
Rauwers, F., Voorveld, H. A. M., & Neijens, P. C. (2020). Explaining perceived interactivity effects on attitudinal responses: A field experiment on the impact of external and internal communication features in digital magazines. Journal of Media Psychology: Theories, Methods, and Applications, 32(3), 130–142.
What is a good follow-up for the Fishbowl Technique? To select and enter your answer go to .