LEARN Format to Enhance Relationships

As a black male therapist and a pastor, I have been greatly disturbed by the events in our country. Not only are we suffering from a COVID pandemic that has affected us physically, economically, mentally, and emotionally, but the scars of racial division have reared their ugly heads again. Protests after the death of George Floyd are occurring all around the world as people are demanding justice and just to be treated as valued members of the human family. One of the biggest challenges that we face is the failure of people to address and communicate with each other. Whether it is in marriage, friendships, or even across racial lines, division comes when we fail to communicate with empathic understanding and choose to mistreat each other. So, in working with clients and groups I came up with an acronym that I feel can help us in building better relationships. The acronym is LEARN.

L – Listen to gain understanding and not to judge.

One of the biggest problems we deal with in any relationship, and especially during racial division, is that we often think we know better. Because we feel that in our minds we are the experts we dismiss the feelings and experiences of the other person. Listening to learn and not to judge allows the other person to express their voice and concern, and feel valued. In the case of racial oppression, people of African descent have experiences going all the way back to 1619 and the advent of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Listening to the stories, even if we do not agree, can educate us about the experiences, mindsets, and motivation of others.

E- Empathize with someone by placing yourself in his or her situation or in his or her shoes.

To empathize means to vicariously gain an understanding of the suffering or joy of someone. Imagine if it was your son or daughter who had a police officer sit on their neck for almost nine minutes. Imagine if it was your sister or brother being chased by people in a truck and shot because they believed that your relative was in the wrong neighborhood. I imagine you would feel sadness, hurt, and anger. With empathy you can begin to understand and identify with the pain of others.

A – Act in a way that advocates for the person, using your sphere of influence.

All of us have a sphere of influence. That sphere of influence includes the relationships in our lives, the people that listen to us, and the people that relate to us. We use that sphere of influence to give voice to those who are mistreated in society. Those who are marginalized or oppressed usually are ignored. Thus, it is our responsibility to bring our voices to the forefront and advocate for them.

R – Resist the urge to back away when the inevitable resistance will come.

I remember sitting in a racial education class at a local church. In that discussion were blacks and whites talking about their experiences. One of the biggest challenges for many of the white people in the audience was going back to their families and advocating for justice and better treatment for people of color. They would face ridicule, shaming, and some would be ostracized or separated from their families. Whenever we try and change the status quo, inevitably resistance will come. That resistance wants us to back away and keep the status quo. Unfortunately, the status quo is killing people and we must advocate for better conditions for all people.

N – Never quit, by continuing to LEARN and grow as a person in the struggle for freedom.

The temptation comes that when we try something new, that it will be easy to quit. It is easy to go back to the status quo. And in many cases our societies, our families, our communities, our churches, our relationships, and so forth will try and return us to the status quo. It gets tiring trying to advocate for justice and freedom for others. That’s why it is important to never quit. It is important to find ways to refresh and recharge oneself in order to continue in the struggle for change to build a community of love and hope. Never quit and keep on LEARNing.

Begin Relationship Therapy in Atlanta, GA

You deserve to communicate effectively, regardless of what your relationship looks like. You don’t have to learn on your own. Our Atlanta, GA-based counseling practice offers support in person and through online therapy in Georgia. Meeting with a caring therapist to discuss how relationship therapy in Atlanta, GA can help can be a very rewarding experience. When you are ready to begin, please follow these steps:

  1. Complete an appointment request
  2. Get to know me, William, your new relationship therapist
  3. Enjoy more empathetic relationships with others

Other Services Offered at Faith and Family Empowerment

Relationship therapy is not the only service offered at our Atlanta, GA-based counseling practice. In addition to relationship therapy, we offer a variety of services including treatment for depression, anxiety, and relationship counseling for one. For couples, we offer marriage counseling, discernment counseling, affair recovery, and premarital counseling. We also offer online support groups for depression and anxiety. For more information, feel free to visit our blog or our FAQ!

Speak Your Mind


315 West Ponce de Leon Avenue
Decatur, GA 30030, suite 1045
Starting August 12, 2021

(678) 257-7831



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