Effective communication is an essential part of healthy relationships. Effective communication not only helps partners to understand each other, but it can also help avoid conflict escalation, leading to effective conflict resolution. That is why, communication exercises are an essential part of couples therapy sessions.  In this article, we’ll explore a few techniques and exercises that couples therapists use to improve communication among couples

  • Active Listening

Listening is an essential aspect of communication. We may even miss out on key information if we aren’t listening to the other person attentively. Inattentive listening may even lead to misunderstandings. Active listening is an effective technique for dealing with such misunderstandings.

Active listening involves fully concentrating on what your partner is saying, taking the time to understand what they have said, and responding thoughtfully. This deep level of listening allows both partners to truly understand each other’s thoughts, feelings, and perspectives

To practice active listening, start by setting a 3 to 5-minute timer where one partner talks openly while the other listens attentively. When one partner is done speaking, the other partner can do the same, At the end of the exercise, both partners can ask any questions regarding each other’s sharing.

  • The ‘I’ Statement

The I statement is a powerful technique to avoid blame or criticism during conflicts. It involves expressing all your thoughts, emotions, and experiences using sentences that start with “I” rather than “you.” For example, instead of saying, “You never listen to me,” a partner can use an “I” statement like, “I feel unheard when I’m interrupted during conversations.”

The ‘I’ statement allows partners to take responsibility for their own feelings, while also avoiding blaming their partner. Research has shown that using ‘i’ statements can reduce the chances of a conversation escalating into a conflict or confrontation.

  • Validating

Validation is a crucial part of a relationship. Validation can provide both partners with a sense of safety and security when they open up. Validating involves acknowledging and accepting your partner’s thoughts, feelings and experiences without judgment or criticism. For example, if your partner expresses sadness or frustration, you might say, “I can see that you’re feeling upset about this situation.”

  • Expressing Appreciation And Gratitude

Each one of us wants to feel acknowledged and appreciated for our efforts. However, sometimes partners may get caught up in everyday life challenges, leading them to overlook the other partner’s efforts in the relationship. Thus, taking time to acknowledge your partner’s efforts can help bring positive changes to the relationship. Practising gratitude also helps create a healthy atmosphere in the relationship and makes both partners feel valued, leading to an increase in relationship satisfaction.

To start practicing gratitude, just set aside a few minutes every day to acknowledge anything good that your partner has done for you during the day. It can be something as simple as ‘Thank you for driving me to work today’.

  • Time Out 

Time-outs are an effective technique to de-escalate conflicts and prevent heated arguments. When both partners are feeling extremely emotional, there are high chances of an argument. A time-out involves consciously taking a break from the stressful conversation and engaging in calming and soothing activities such as taking a walk, listening to music or practising a hobby, etc. Both partners can practice calming activities independently. A time-out allows both partners to cool down, gain perspective, and return to the discussion with a clearer mind and a more productive approach.


Effective communication is a vital part of every healthy and long-lasting relationship. Therapy techniques like active listening, ‘I’ statements, validation, expressing gratitude, and time-outs help couples create an atmosphere of understanding and empathy in the relationship, while also helping them resolve conflicts effectively. 

If you are considering couples therapy, click here to book a session with our trained and experienced couples therapist, right away


  1. 17 Communication Exercises for Couples. (n.d.). Paired. Retrieved April 8, 2024, from https://www.paired.com/articles/communication-exercises-for-couples
  2. Validation: The Most Powerful Relationship Skill You Were Never Taught. (n.d.). Retrieved April 8, 2024, from https://michaelssorensen.com/validation-the-most-powerful-relationship-skill-you-were-never-taught/
  3. Rogers, S. L., Howieson, J., & Neame, C. (2018). I understand you feel that way, but I feel this way: The benefits of I-language and communicating perspective during conflict. PeerJ, 6, e4831. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.4831

Dhruva Koranne

Dhruva Koranne has completed his Masters in Applied Psychology from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, BALM. He has been practicing as a counsellor since 2020 and works to create a safe space for clients where they can open up. In addition to this, Dhruva loves researching and studying about upcoming theories in the field of Psychology. Connect with him on Linkedin