Do feel exhausted or alone as you care for your family member that is struggling with a mental health diagnosis? We are here to help! Join our Support Group via Zoom on Tuesday, September 20, 2022 at 7pm. Please Email Jill at with any questions.

Our second support group of the month will be on Zoom on Tuesday, September 20, 2022 at 7pm. Click here to join the meeting.

Our second support group of each month features RUBY AND SANDY TALK IT OUT!

What is Ruby and Sandy Talk It Out? It is an informative topic discussion session that is facilitated by two of FACES’ long time Board members, Sandy English and Ruby Fitzgerald. Ruby and Sandy use their lived experiences to guide support group participants in an interactive discussion on topics such as “Hope and Recovery” “Communication – Asking the hard questions and how to relate to family members and friends that don’t understand when a loved one is in crisis”, “self care – simple ways to can practice self care”, and “how sugar, alcohol, caffeine and tobacco affect us, and many other relevant topics. Ruby and Sandy would also like for you to suggest topics that are important to you. Our goal is to learn and share ideas so we have more tools in our tool box when caring for our loved ones. If you have a topic that is important to you, please email Ruby and Sandy at

Please scroll down to see tips from their presentation “Communication Part 1” and “Communication Part 2 – Having the hard conversation” presented earlier this year.



COMMUNICATION PART 2 – From Ruby and Sandy Talk It Out! – How to have that difficult conversation with family and friends.

Dealing with strong emotions can be difficult.

Responding to threats, anger, and discouragement can be intimidating. Not knowing what to say or how to respond can leave us in fear of saying or doing the wrong thing. Building a relationship based on reflective communication can help reduce the stress during difficult times. Individuals in crisis may not be responsive to these conversations but they will likely remember being treated with love and respect.

As family members, we all have the desire to HELP or FIX. Helping or fixing unintentionally implies that the person is weak or broken and cannot solve their own problems. The most effective responses are based on Hope, Encouragement and Respect.

Listen, listen, listen. Give the speaker time to finish what they are saying. Pause, take a deep breath and then reflect back what you think you heard. This will help give you the opportunity to target the real issue. Acknowledge the other persons feelings. Let them know you heard what they were saying. Encourage them to take personal responsibility. First let’s look at some which are not helpful, but rather shut doors and build walls.

-Preaching or moralizing: saying “should” or “ought”, advising, ordering or commanding, judging or blaming. If people become defensive you may have a battle on your hands.

-Over-reassuring or excusing an event, stacking questions without waiting for an answer may cause confusion or distraction.

-Warning or admonishing.

-Over- sympathizing (poor you thinking).

It is normal for these responses to slip into to your conversation when you are dealing with new and unexpected behaviors. Be aware that you will possibly be engaging anger and disrespect. When it is appropriate, offer a clean apology, no “buts”

Let’s look at some possible responses that can help build Hope, Trust, and Respect for all parties. Reflect back in order to confirm you are hearing what they are saying.

-I think I am hearing you say————-

-Is this what you mean?

-Did I get that right?

-Can I ask a question for clarification?

Continue the conversation: if not now, then later when the time is right.

-So what are your ideas about how to take care of this?

-What do you want in this situation?

-What has worked for you in the past?

-Is there something new you want to try?

-What are your ideas about how to change things?

-What would you need to do to be able to get what you want done?


COMMUNICATION PART 1 – From Ruby and Sandy Talk It Out!

In today’s high-tech, high-speed, high-stress world, communication is more important than ever, yet we seem to devote less and less time to really listening to one another. Genuine listening has become a rare gift—the gift of time. It helps build relationships, solve problems, ensure understanding, resolve conflicts, and improve accuracy. At work, effective listening means fewer errors and less wasted time. At home, it helps develop resourceful, self-reliant kids who can solve their own problems. Listening builds friendships and careers. It saves money and marriages.

Face the speaker and maintain eye contact.

Eye contact is considered a basic ingredient of effective communication.

Do your conversational partners the courtesy of turning to face them. Put aside papers, books, the phone and other distractions. Look at them, even if they don’t look at you. Shyness, uncertainty, shame, guilt, or other emotions, along with cultural taboos, can inhibit eye contact in some people under some circumstances. Excuse the other guy, but stay focused yourself.

Be attentive, but relaxed.

Now that you’ve made eye contact, relax. You don’t have to stare fixedly at the other person. You can look away now and then and carry on like a normal person. The important thing is to be attentive. 

Keep an open mind.

Listen without judging the other person or mentally criticizing the things she tells you. Remember that the speaker is using language to represent the thoughts and feelings inside her brain. You don’t know what those thoughts and feelings are and the only way you’ll find out is by listening.

Don’t be a sentence-grabber. Occasionally I don’t slow my mental pace enough to listen effectively, so I try to speed up the other person by interrupting and finishing their sentences. This usually lands us way off base and we need to reset the conversation in order to hear where their train of thought are headed. 

Listen to the words and try to picture what the speaker is saying.

Allow your mind to create a mental model of the information being communicated. Whether a literal picture, or an arrangement of abstract concepts, your brain will do the necessary work if you stay focused, with senses fully alert. When listening for long stretches, concentrate on, and remember, key words and phrases.

When it’s your turn to listen, don’t spend the time planning what to say next. You can’t rehearse and listen at the same time. Think only about what the other person is saying.

Don’t interrupt and don’t impose your “solutions.”

Children used to be taught that it’s rude to interrupt. I’m not sure that message is getting across anymore. Certainly the opposite is being modeled on the majority of talk shows and reality programs, where loud, aggressive, in-your-face behavior is condoned, if not encouraged.

Interrupting sends a variety of messages. It says:

  • “I’m more important than you are.”
  • “What I have to say is more interesting, accurate or relevant.”
  • “I don’t really care what you think.”
  • “I don’t have time for your opinion.”
  • “This isn’t a conversation, it’s a contest, and I’m going to win.”

We all think and speak at different rates. If you are a quick thinker and an agile talker, the burden is on you to relax your pace for the slower, more thoughtful communicator—or for the guy who has trouble expressing himself.

When listening to someone talk about a problem, refrain from suggesting solutions Most of us prefer to figure out our own solutions. We need you to listen and help us do that. Somewhere way down the line, if you are absolutely bursting with a brilliant solution, at least get the speaker’s permission. Ask, “Would you like to hear my ideas?”

Try to feel what the speaker is feeling.

If you feel sad when the person with whom you are talking expresses sadness, joyful when she expresses joy, fearful when she describes her fears—and convey those feelings through your facial expressions and words—then your effectiveness as a listener is assured. Empathy is the heart and soul of good listening.

To experience empathy, you have to put yourself in the other person’s place and allow yourself to feel what it is like to be her at that moment. This is not an easy thing to do. It takes energy and concentration. But it is a generous and helpful thing to do, and it facilitates communication like nothing else does.

Pay attention to what isn’t said—to nonverbal cues.

If you exclude email, the majority of direct communication is probably nonverbal. We glean a great deal of information about each other without saying a word. Even over the telephone, you can learn almost as much about a person from the tone and cadence of her voice than from anything she says. When I talk to my best friend, it doesn’t matter what we chat about, if I hear a lilt and laughter in her voice, I feel reassured that she’s doing well.

Face to face with a person, you can detect enthusiasm, boredom, or irritation very quickly in the expression around the eyes, the set of the mouth, the slope of the shoulders. These are clues you can’t ignore. When listening, remember that words convey only a fraction of the message.

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