Conflicts can occur regularly and they are not all necessarily bad. A good conflict can provide clarity and ultimately positively influence the atmosphere. However, conflict does not always end with a positive outcome. Sometimes, a conflict can even turn into an argument, which can have unpleasant consequences; recurring arguments, no longer wanting to talk to each other, and sometimes even breaking off contact or ending a relationship. As you can imagine, such a conflict can have a major impact on a person’s life.

Although conflict is often not seen as the most important contributing factor to symptoms of depression, it can be a primary cause. The feeling of loss or a ‘conflict of interest’ is common and has a major impact on a person’s life. It often concerns a conflict with a partner, but it can also be with a family member, colleague or another important person.

Finding the cause

With the help of your practitioner, you will try to find the cause of the problem. This involves looking at who is involved and the topic of the argument. In general, this will be a conflict where there seems to be no solution. After mapping out your wishes and desires, you will work together to see if you can bring the conflict into the negotiation phase.

In addition, you will examine the various occasions on which a conflict occurred to get an idea of your communication patterns and whether they are working or not. You will review what you have already tried in regard to this conflict.

Expressing your wishes

Now that you have a good understanding of the conflict and the attempts to solve the conflict, you and your practitioner will jointly examine whether there are other possibilities for expressing and/or getting your wishes fulfilled in a better way. You will discuss every possibility and what the consequences of these possibilities could be. We always discuss a concrete situation and the various options for reactions. We can practise this through a role play, for example, and then you can start working on it at home. During the next session, we will discuss how it went, what you said, what you felt and how the other person reacted. We call this a communication analysis. We can also involve the other person if he/she is open to it.

 

Source: Keijsers, G. P. J., Van Minnen, A., Verbraak, M., Hoogduin, C. A. L. & Emmelkamp, P., (2017). Protocol-based treatments for adults with psychological complaints.

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