4 steps

Making Sense of Suffering:

The Healing Confrontation with Your Own Past

by J. Konrad Stettbacher, (translated by S. Worral, New York: Dutton,1991)
Note: Alice Miller no longer supports Stettbacher's method. See: Communication, reaction and 2nd reaction.

1. Psychic pain and suffering

occurs after the following sequence of events:

1. A valid need arises, and is denied or left unfulfilled in violation of your rights;
2. The violation and abuse continues because of misunderstanding, lack of knowledge, a truth not told, or inappropriate beliefs;
3. Causing repression and suppression of anger and all other feelings;
4. Resulting in an end position of confusion, distress, helplessness and depression;

2. The 4 step method of therapy

seeks resolution and clarity of thinking by reversing this sequence:
1. Describe the situation, one's sensations and perceptions;
2. Experience your emotions and express your feelings;
3. Critically examine the situation and understand why;
4. Specify what you want and articulate your needs;

After writing this, I found Marshall Rosenberg's method of nonviolent communication improves upon this four step process: 1. Describe the situation, articulating your observation without evaluation or judgement;
2. Express your feelings;
3. State the unmet needs behind these feelings;
4. Make a very specific request, (not a demand) for what you would like to see happen.

There are variations to the ordering of the above. For example, if time is short, you may make the request first, and then explain by describing the situation and expressing feelings and needs. See the Center for Nonviolent Communication website for more details. Here is an independent summary.

Last updated 25 April 2005

Copyright © 1996-05 by Duen Hsi Yen, All rights reserved. E-mail:

Return to the wordmap
about wordmap
Return to the malama wordmap.