28 minutes | Jul 8th 2020

Episode 19: How to Build a “Communication Toolbox” and Improve Family Relationships with Clinical Therapist Nick Lenderking-Brill

PREVIEW: A “communication toolbox”…it’s exactly what it sounds like! It is a set of skills and resources at our disposal to access at any moment to practice healthy communication and strengthen our relationships. These are tools to draw from when relationships get tense, confusing, or avoidant. They are also tools to practice regularly even when things are going smoothly.

On this episode, therapist Nick Lenderking-Brill walks us through a set of specific skills/resources to include in a “communication toolbox,” such as the “I Feel” Statement, reflective listening, empathy, and the feelings wheel. He gives tangible tips for implementing them into our real-life conversations. Download some of these resources at the links below.


Downloadable Feelings Resource Wheel

Downloadable “I Feel” Statement and Reflective Listening guide

Nick’s blog: Family Connection in the Digital Age: Tips for Reconnecting

Open Sky blog: 10 Tips for Strengthening Family Relationships in the New Year

Open Sky blog: From Distant to Connected: Effective Communication Strategies to Improve Parent-Child Relationships


Nick Lenderking-Brill, MA, LPCC

Nick, a Boston native, has always been fascinated by humans and how they interact. He earned his Bachelor’s of Arts in English from the University of Virginia, largely to delve deeper into the arts of communication and expression. His 12 years of experience working with individuals and families led him to a Master's Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Naropa University.

From organizing and leading backpacking trips for teenagers, to supporting displaced families in urban Brazil, to teaching English to schoolchildren in Thailand, Nick has found joy and fulfillment in serving others through the connective tissue of human relationships. Since childhood, he remembers feeling a sense of solace in nature. In 2013, he thru-hiked the 2,180 mile Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. During this journey, Nick experienced his own "wilderness therapy," and knew he needed to help others heal, using nature as a backdrop. His passion took him to Colorado in 2015, where he decided to concentrate his Master's degree in the field of Wilderness Therapy. As a therapist, Nick has facilitated equine-assisted interventions, rock-climbing interventions, group work while actively canoeing, and therapeutic backpacking trips. Aside from his work at Open Sky, he has worked at a counseling agency leading groups and performing individual therapy with folks who suffer from addiction.

Nick uses a humanistic approach in therapy. He believes that all beings are basically good, yet we are subject to several difficulties simply by being alive. He is direct but compassionate with his adolescent boys--he knows how to push them into their work in a playful way, because after all, he was once an adolescent boy too! Nick finds the most value in life through interpersonal connection, and it is his goal as a therapist and human to have meaningful interactions with everyone he encounters. Rather than seeking to fix people’s problems, Nick hopes to empower people to reach their own goals.

He specializes in addiction counseling, attachment issues, trauma-informed therapy, depression, anxiety, and screen overuse. His own research includes the ways in which screen overuse affects the developing brain. Nick is fascinated by neurology and mindfulness, and often brings current research into his work with students and families.