5 Levels of Communication

5 Levels of Communication

Hello again and Welcome to Lighthouse Counseling. Over the next few months, I will be sharing some information that is available in The Marriage/Couples Forever program which is designed to help couples in crisis save their relationship. It is also very beneficial for couples who want to improve their relationship and take it to the next level. The program is introduced during couples counseling sessions and is also available in a conference format.

When couples come into therapy for the first time, they often begin by sharing that they’re having trouble communicating. Although communication is a common issue in a lot of struggling relationships, it is often more a symptom rather than the root of the problem. When couples argue they often find themselves recycling old issues and never really resolving the presenting problem. After a few minutes, they find that what they are talking about is completely different than what they started off discussing.  One important element that is helpful to understand in communication is that the couple understand the five levels of communication.

The first level of communication is the level of cliche. I am from Minnesota, and this is the level that most people feel comfortable talking at. Because it is safe. People use cliches like How are things going?  Fine, how are you doing? Great. Most people speak at this level because they can’t get into trouble, it is safe, and they can avoid conflict.

The second level of communication is the relating of facts.  Communicating a fact like: It was busy at work today, it’s cold outside, we need to take the kids to their sporting event. Again, it’s fairly safe to talk at this level.


The third level is where people run into trouble especially early in the relationship. It is the expression of opinions. As soon as someone in the relationship expresses opinion about something the couple runs the risk of conflict. Most people get stuck at this level thus are unable to reach the deeper levels of communication which are at level 4 and level 5.


Level four is the expression of feelings. This is where I feel safe being able to express how I feel about something. If a couple gets stuck at the opinion level, they are unable to express and understand each other’s feelings and often feel like the other person does not care or understand them. Some people also have difficulty identifying and expressing their feelings which is a common treatment goal in counseling.


Level-5 is the expression of needs. This is where we express what we need and begin to be able to find resolution to the problem.  We are able to identify what we each need in the relationship in order for the problem to be resolved. We also begin to feel like we’re getting our needs met.


Many couples who are unable to reach the deeper levels of communication often feel like they aren’t getting their needs met. When you’re communicating with your partner ask yourself what level we are at? If you’re unable to reach the deeper levels, it is an indication that it might be helpful to talk to a counselor who can help you learn how to communicate and identify what obstacles are interfering in your ability to get your needs met

Level 3: What we think

Level 4: What we feel

Level 5: What we need

Contact Lighthouse Counseling if you have questions about how to begin counseling to save or improve your relationship at 855-454-2463 or www.lighthousecounseling.com





My name is Larry Bengtson and I am the Founder and Administrator for Lighthouse Counseling, Ltd. I have a passion and a dedication for the Building of Strong Marriages (Couples) and Healthy Families. I earned my Masters Degree in Counseling from the University of Wisconsin -River Falls after earning my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology/Sociology from St. Ambrose University. I am also a Certified Clinical Telemental Health Provider (CTMH). Lighthouse Counseling was established to provide a safe, supportive and non-judgemental environment for people to disclose their personal struggles, receive help and restore their relationships. I have been practicing as a Professional Counselor for over 25 years and specialize in treating marriages/couples and families. I have helped hundreds of families and individuals navigate the complexities of life.

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