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Jackie Schuld Art Therapy Blog

How NonViolent Communication Changed My Therapeutic Work

I wish Non Violent Communication (NVC) had a different name. It makes it sound like NVC is all about how to not be violent in our words.

I’m not a violent person, so I did not think I needed NVC. Even when people told me how much it impacted them, I dismissed it as not for me.

Finally though, after two clients mentioned how much it helped them, I decided to read the book “NonViolent Communication” by Marshall Rosenberg.

A beaver holding a "Thank You" sign
"Thank You to NVC" Watercolor illustration by Jackie Schuld

I’m glad I did, for it changed how I interacted with my clients and how I interacted with myself.

It broke down feelings, emotions, needs, values, and judgments in words that made me understand them and see them in a new light.

NVC posits that every feeling has an underlying need.

For example, if we’re feeling happy, that might be because our need for adventure was met.

It is a simple, powerful framework for validating how we feel.

As a therapist who works with individuals with overwhelming emotions, my clients often think there is something wrong with them. They think they feel too much or are too sensitive. They question the validity of their feelings.

NVC helps them to see that each of their feelings are present for a reason. They are not crazy. They are not dramatic. They are a human with unmet needs.

As they begin to trust themselves more, they stop wishing their emotions away and start investigating why those emotions are present. They find their emotions hold valuable information about their needs.

They realize they are frustrated because they have a need for being seen, heard, and understood.

They realize they are tired and exhausted because they have a need for rest and replenishment.

They realize they are bored or numb because they have a need for excitement, fun, and play.

These realizations help them to see ways they can enhance their lives and ensure their needs are met.

This leads to them feeling better and better over time.

While NVC is not a “form of therapy” its framework and techniques greatly enhanced my therapeutic work with clients.


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