Counselling for communication issues: How to manage emotional reactions


No matter how mentally strong you are: Living abroad can challenge your mental health. Here's how counselling can help expats with communication difficulties:

Feelings of anger, hurt and frustration

Learning to manage your emotional reactions is key to a good communication with others. Counselling can help you understand and soothe these feelings before they interfere with your communication. Recognising when you start to feel angry, taking steps to calm down as early as possible, giving yourself time to think before reacting and talking to a counsellor or therapist about what's actually making you angry will help you relax and reduce stress.

Projections, assumptions and sensitivities

Your communication is clouded by these processes. In my counselling sessions I teach clients how to identify their unconscious projections and assumptions which are mostly based on learned interpretations. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an effective therapy for treating such communication issues by identifying the underlying core beliefs and automatic thought patterns which lead to how we interpret the world. CBT helps clients to reduce their vulnerability by modifying these core beliefs and assumptions. 

Poor listening skills

Poor listening leads to assumptions, errors and misunderstandings. But why do some people struggle with poor listening? In most cases, the psychological reason for poor listenings skills is fear and feeling overwhelmed. CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) can help you identify negative thought patterns which lead to poor listening skills, and change these patterns. A key aspect of CBT is to identify, evaluate and challenge negative thoughts by keeping a thought journal.

Setting healthy communication boundaries

In order to set healthy boundaries you will need to know yourself, your values, your needs and your wants. It is important to protect yourself by setting not only physical boundaries, but also mental boundaries. Examples for mental boundaries are: Being able to communicate with others about how you would and would not like to be treated and protecting values that are important for you. People who struggle with setting healthy communication boundaries often don't believe that they are worth defending and they are often unable to refuse to answer questions which actually make them feel uncomfortable. Cognitive Bevavioral Therapy can help identify the underlying core beliefs that lead to being unable to set clear boundaries. Developing appropriate trust, staying focused on your own growth, maintaining personal values despite what others want and speaking up when someone invades your boundaries are signs of self-respect and trusting your own decisions. Counselling can help you with boundary setting by clearly naming your limits.

Are you an expat living in Germany and struggling with communication issues?

I'm Natalie Marby, an English speaking licensed therapist in Hamburg, Germany. I'm half British and half German and I have specialised in treating typical expatriate mental health issues. You will find more information about my work here:

If you are interested in booking a session with me, please send me a message or call me on +494046090233. I'm looking forward to hearing from you!

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