Improving relationships – Moving from the Drama Triangle to empowerment & better communication

Relationships! Vital to our lives and yet can sometimes be the source of unhappiness, stress or pain.

One of the areas that many clients want to work on is how to improve relationships. Of course, relationships affect all of us and can be complicated sometimes. Whether these are family, spouse, children or work relationships they can all involve emotions and misunderstandings. Relationships throughout our lives can have enormous influence on our emotional well-being, our confidence and sense of identity. We learn how to relate to others from the beginning of our lives but like anything because we are designed to keep learning and because of neuro-plasticity in the brain, we can start to re-programme our responses to others and learn new ways to better connect.

Self-awareness and learning to take responsibility for your own role first

The first part of improving any relationship is to become aware of your own role and how to take responsibility for the part you are playing. One of the frameworks I use is the Drama Triangle because it helps to map out the types of negative roles that people often get stuck in. It can also be a useful way to understand the relationship we have with ourselves when we experience internal conflict.

Part of the issue might be that we are not yet taking responsibility for our actions or feelings. In relationships and in life, we can only control those things within our control. We cannot control other people’s feelings, words or actions so we need to start by learning to take control of what we are doing.

Each role below on the triangle is trying to meet their own emotional needs but in a way that actually means they are not taking responsibility for themselves and they are all actually the ‘victim’.  Within relationships we often rotate round into each of these roles at some point and these roles become habitual.

This is based on Karpman’s Drama Triangle which has often been used in social work or family therapy.


improving relationships

When I use it to reference what someone’s doing to themselves an example might be: the person feels helpless and in pain mentally, they then blame themselves and are angry with themselves which leads them to look for an external solution such as drink, drugs or someone else to fix them – this then leads them back to victim and persecutor mode.

Recognising if you are playing one or more of these roles allows you to see things from another perspective and make the choice to start taking responsibility to get off the drama triangle.

How do you get on this triangle? Article coming soon….

If you want help to manage stress and learn how to improve your relationships through sorting out your own needs or communication skills, contact me on