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When working with couples in therapy, relationship expert David Pearl
works to facilitate better communication and a deeper connection between partners. “Mirroring” is one technique Pearl teaches to couples in this process, in order to reduce reactivity and increase empathy. How mirroring works is that a partner will share an aspect of the relationship which they see as problematic. After carefully listening, the other partner will repeat exactly (or mirror) what was just said, until the speaker feels fully heard and understood. Turns are taken and specific issues are chosen to be examined in more depth. This exercise enables both parties to ultimately feel cared for and understood by their significant other.
As Pearl states, “The key to a healthy relationship is not necessarily to agree on everything. Instead, it is to find a space in which individuals in a relationship can express their thoughts and feelings about difficult matters, reassured that their partners hear and understand them. This new space is not about right and wrong, but where two different perspectives live side by side and add to each other’s lives. Who doesn’t want to hear their partner tell them “Hey, you’re not crazy. I get it.” By practicing mirroring, both during and outside of therapy, couples can learn to communicate better and have longer, more fulfilling relationships.