20 Powerful TED Talks on Relationships & Communication

20 powerful TED Talks on relationships, communication, and related topics for mental health professionals and counseling students to use as psychoeducational tools (or for self-help).

For more recommended TED Talks, see 10 Most Popular TEDx Talks (a playlist from the TED website), 3 Powerful TED Talks on Grief, 10 Powerful TED Talks on Emotions, 10 Powerful TED Talks on Resilience, Empathy, & Compassion, and 18 Best TED Talks for Addiction & Recovery.

For additional psychoeducational videos, see 50 Helpful YouTube Videos for Psychoeducation.


20 Powerful TED Talks on Relationships & Communication

1. Four Habits of ALL Successful Relationships | Dr. Andrea & Jonathan Taylor-Cummings (2019)

All relationships take work. Dr. Andrea & Jon Taylor-Cummings share their observations of the four fundamental habits of healthy relationships: BE CURIOUS, not critical; BE CAREFUL, not crushing; ASK, don’t assume; and CONNECT, before you correct.


2. Ten Ways to Have a Better Conversation | Celeste Headlee (2016)

Journalist, author, and public speaker Celeste Headlee reveals the ingredients of a great conversation: Honesty, brevity, clarity, and a healthy amount of listening. In this insightful talk, she shares 10 rules for having better conversations.


3. The Brain in Love | Helen Fisher (2008)

Helen Fisher – anthropologist, human behavior researcher, and self-help author – talks about romantic love in this video clip. She shares what neuroscience tells us about the brain in love.


Bonus video: The Science of Love with Dr. Helen Fisher


4. Do You Have Post Betrayal Syndrome? | Debi Silber (2020)

Dr. Debi Silber – psychologist and founder of the PBT (Post Betrayal Transformation) Institute – talks about being blindsided by betrayal. She explains how we heal (physically, mentally, and emotionally) from betrayal by turning trauma into transformation.

Take a free quiz to find out if you have post betrayal syndrome.


5. The Dreaded Drama Triangle | Lucy Barnes (2018)

There are three roles we take on in unhealthy relationships. Are you the victim, the rescuer, or the persecutor? Lucy Barnes talks about the dreaded drama triangle in this TED Talk.


6. How to Fix a Broken Heart | Guy Winch (2018)

Psychologist Guy Winch talks about heartbreak and the intense emotional pain it brings. To recover from a broken heart, we must be willing to let the relationship go; hope can be incredibly destructive when we’re heartbroken. In one of the most viewed TED Talks on relationships and breakups, Winch shares practical suggestions for moving on after a relationship ends.


7. How to Speak So That People Want to Listen | Julian Treasure (2014)

According to Julian Treasure, the seven deadly sins of speaking are gossip, judging, negativity, complaining, blaming, lying, and conflating fact with opinion. He talks about the four cornerstones of effective speech as well as tools for speaking so that people want to listen.


Bonus TED-Ed Video: How Miscommunication Happens and How to Avoid It


8. How to Spot a Liar | Pamela Meyer (2011)

We’re all liars, according to Pamela Meyer – and we’re lied to between 10 and 200 times on any given day. In one of the most highly viewed TED Talks on relationships and deception, Meyer talks about how to spot lies by recognizing the telltale signs of a liar.


9. How Your Brain Falls In Love | Dawn Maslar (2016)

Biologist Dawn Maslar explains the neuroscience of falling in love. Romantic love is associated with chemical and hormonal changes that differ for men and women.


10. Infidelity: To Stay or Go…? | Lucy Beresford (2018)

Psychotherapist and relationship expert Lucy Beresford argues against the assumption that ending a relationship after infidelity is the best course of action. She suggests that it’s more courageous to stay and rebuild. In this TED Talk, Beresford explains how a couple can repair their relationship and rebuild trust after a betrayal.


Bonus TED-Ed Video: A Brief History of Divorce

11. Is Casual Sex Bad for You? | Dr. Zhana Vrangalova (2015)

Renowned sex researcher and psychologist Zhana Vrangalova discusses casual sex, long portrayed as a societal sin. She explains how “hookup” sex satisfies some of our most basic human needs.


12. Is It Lust or Is It Love? | Terri Orbuch (2014)

Dr. Terri Orbuch (aka, The Love Doctor®) is a professor of sociology at Oakland University (Rochester, Michigan) and a research professor at the Institute for Social Research at University of Michigan. In this TED Talk she explains how to differentiate between lust and love by recognizing distinctive features.


13. Overcoming the Fear of Love | Trillion Small (2018)

Dr. Trillion Small, licensed marriage and family therapist, examines why we fear love and how to overcome this in order to have healthy relationships.


14. The Power of Vulnerability | Brené Brown (2011)

Brené Brown shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity.


15. Relationships Are Hard, but Why? | Stan Tatkin (2016)

Stan Tatkin – relationship expert, clinician, teacher, and researcher – explores why we fight in relationships from a neuroscience perspective.


16. Rethinking Infidelity… A Talk for Anyone Who Has Ever Loved | Esther Perel (2015)

Relationship therapist Esther Perel discusses adultery and infidelity in this TED Talk. She explains that monogamy has nothing to do with love and talks about the three ways infidelity hurts us differently today.


17. The Science of Love | John Gottman (2018)

Can science help find the magic of love? Relationship expert discusses the science of love and how to make love work.


18. Skills for Healthy Romantic Relationships | Joanne Davila (2015)

Psychologist and researcher Joanne Davila describes how you can create the things that lead to healthy relationships and reduce the things that lead to unhealthy ones using three evidence-based skills – insight, mutuality, and emotion regulation.


19. What a Sex Worker Can Teach Us About Human Connection | Nicole Emma (2018)

Nicole Emma explains that sex is how men feel loved and worthy. She shares what she learned about human connection through sex work. She also touches on the impact of harmful male messages in society.


20. Why Domestic Violence Victims Don’t Leave | Leslie Morgan Steiner (2013)

Leslie Morgan Steiner shares what it’s like to be in “crazy love” with an abusive partner. For years she stayed with a man who routinely abused her and threatened her life. In this TED Talk, Steiner explains why domestic violence victims don’t leave abusive relationships; she also corrects common misconceptions about intimate partner violence.


TED Talks on relationships

10 Powerful TED Talks on Emotions

A list of 10 powerful TED Talks on emotions, including anger, sadness, fear, etc. (and how to effectively manage them!)

For more recommended TED Talks, see 10 Most Popular TEDx Talks (a playlist on the TED website), 10 Powerful TED Talks on Resilience, Empathy, & Compassion, and 18 Best TED Talks for Addiction & Recovery.

For additional psychoeducational videos, see 50 Helpful YouTube Videos for Psychoeducation.


10 Powerful TED Talks on Emotions

1. Anger Is Your Ally: A Mindful Approach to Anger | Juna Mustad (2019)

You wouldn’t let a young child drive a car, nor would you lock them in the trunk. Treat your anger in the same manner; don’t let it drive you, but don’t be a “stuffer.” Juna Mustad explains how neuroscience and mindfulness can help us to better understand and manage anger.


2. Don’t Neglect Your Emotions. Express Them – Constructively! | Artūrs Miksons (2019)

Medical doctor and psychotherapist Artūrs Miksons talks about how we learn to suppress or reject emotional responses that are deemed unacceptable by society. In reality, emotions should not be labeled as “good” or “bad”; they just are. A better way to manage difficult emotions is to not only recognize and accept them, but to speak them aloud and share with another.


3. Emotional Mastery: The Gifted Wisdom of Unpleasant Feelings | Dr. Joan Rosenberg (2016)

Psychologist Joan Rosenberg explains how poor management of unpleasant feelings blocks us from feeling capable in life and achieving success. She reveals a simple formula (1 choice, 8 feelings, 90 seconds) for navigating these challenging feelings in one of the most popular TED Talks on emotions.


4. Emotions Monsters and the Way We Treat Them | Melissa Gallagher (2020)

Melissa Gallagher – trauma survivor, parent, and mental health advocate – explains that we need to recognize and connect with our “emotions monsters” in order to heal from suffering. Hiding from our pain only makes it worse.


5. Feelings: Handle Them Before They Handle You | Mandy Saligari (2017)

Recovering addict and addictions therapist Mandy Saligari explains that we must handle our emotions or they will handle us. She discusses emotional coping mechanisms for managing feelings and the role of healthy boundaries.


6. The Mood-Boosting Power of Crying | Kathy Mendias (2020)

In this video clip, Kathy Mendias explores the science behind the mood-boosting power of tears (which the average human produces 15-30 gallons of per year!) She explains how crying can improve both physical and mental wellbeing.

Did you know that the chemical composition of emotional tears differs from that of the tears that form in response to an irritant? Click here for a 4-minute bonus video that explains the chemistry of tears and why we cry.


7. The Power of Women’s Anger | Soraya Chemaly (2019)

Author Soraya Chemaly talks about how girls and women across the world are taught that anger, “the moral property of boys and men,” is better left unvoiced. In reality, anger is a powerful signal that warns us of threat, insult, indignity, and harm; feminine rage is justified, healthy, and a potential catalyst for change.


8. Want to Be Happy? Be Grateful | David Steindl-Rast (2013)

Monk and interfaith scholar David Steindl-Rast talks about how gratefulness is the secret to true happiness. He encourages everyone to “live gratefully” by not taking life for granted. Every moment is a gift and we have a new opportunity in every moment.


9. Why You Should Define Your Fears Instead of Your Goals | Tim Ferriss (2017)

In this TED Talks, Tim Ferriss – entrepreneur, investor, author, podcaster, and lifestyle guru – talks about overcoming self-paralysis through “fear-setting.” By envisioning our fears and then focusing on what we have control over (define, prevent, impair), we are better equipped to face them.


10. You Aren’t at the Mercy of Your Emotions – Your Brain Creates Them | Lisa Feldman Barrett (2018)

Neuroscientist and psychology professor Lisa Feldman Barrett has mapped facial expressions, scanned brains, and analyzed hundreds of physiology studies for the past 25 years to better understand human emotions. Through exhaustive research she discovered how emotions are created in the brain. As one of the top-viewed TED Talks on emotions, this video shows that we have more control over our emotions than we think we do.


TED Talks on emotions

10 Powerful TED Talks on Resilience, Empathy, & Compassion

Powerful TED Talks on resilience, empathy, compassion, and related topics for clinical/educational use or for self-help.

For more recommended TED Talks, see 10 Most Popular TEDx Talks (a playlist on the TED website), 3 Powerful TED Talks on Grief, and 18 Best TED Talks for Addiction & Recovery.

For additional psychoeducational videos, see 50 Helpful YouTube Videos for Psychoeducation.


Powerful TED Talks on Resilience, Empathy, & Compassion

1. Compassion and the True Meaning of Empathy | Joan Halifax (2011)

In this inspiring TED Talk, Joan Halifax shares about what she’s learned about compassion and true empathy. She has a deep insight into the nature of compassion, gained through her work with people in the end stages of their lives.


2. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance | Angela Lee Duckworth (2013)

In this popular TED Talk, psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth explains how grit and determination, not IQ, are the biggest predictors of success.


3. How Do You Define Yourself? | Lizzie Velasquez (2014)

Lizzie Velasquez, once labeled the world’s ugliest woman, explores the ways in which we define ourselves. As one of the most powerful TED Talks on true beauty, this video empowers viewers to challenge society’s definitions of beauty, happiness, and success – and to decide for themselves how they’ll allow themselves to be defined.


4. How to Succeed in Every Moment Even When You’re Failing | Dr. Jill Stoddard (2020)

Dr. Jill Stoddard – clinical psychologist and author – challenges the notion that goal achievement is a measure of success. She explores alternative ways of thinking about failures in life.


5. Listening to Shame | Brené Brown (2012)

Brené Brown – researcher, professor, and author – explores what can happen when people confront their shame head-on. In this TED Talk she explains how shame is an epidemic and how it plays a major role in “broken” behaviors in our lives.


6. The Magic of Not Giving a F*** | Sarah Knight (2017)

Bestselling author Sarah Knight outlines her method for “not giving a fuck,” thereby putting a stop to spending time she doesn’t have, doing things she doesn’t want to do. One of the most powerful TED Talks on self-determination, Sarah Knight’s speech will leave you rethinking your own priorities (and fucks to give – or not to give) in life.


7. The Price of Shame | Monica Lewinsky (2015)

Monica Lewinsky delivers a compelling talk on public shaming and the “culture of humiliation” that exists today. From a woman who lost her personal reputation on a global scale back in 1998 – and who was able to survive by taking back her narrative – this video clip is one of the most powerful TED Talks out there on countering public humiliation with empathy and compassion.


8. The Secret of Becoming Mentally Strong | Amy Morin (2015)

What bad mental habits are holding you up? In this TED Talk, Amy Morin – psychotherapist and author – explains how to become “mentally strong” by challenging our negative beliefs and giving up unhealthy habits. This strategy builds resiliency and allows us to become unstuck in life, thus reaching our full potential.


9. The Space Between Self-Esteem and Self-Compassion | Kristin Neff (2013)

Kristin Neff – university professor and published author – explores the relationship between self-esteem and self-compassion in this video clip. She asks viewers to be kind to themselves as she discusses what research tells us about self-compassion.


10. The Three Secrets of Resilient People | Lucy Hone (2019)

In this TED Talk, Dr. Lucy Hone – resilience expert, acclaimed researcher, and published author – discusses three strategies for rising up from adversity in the face of suffering. She shares about her personal experience with painful loss – and how she was able to get through an unimaginable tragedy. As one of the most inspiring and powerful TED Talks on resiliency, this video clip provides viewers with not only insight, but hope.


powerful TED Talks

3 Powerful TED Talks on Grief

Three powerful, therapist-recommended TED Talks on grief for clinical use (as psychoeducation for grieving clients or in a treatment setting) or for self-help.

For more recommended TED Talks, see 10 Most Popular TEDx Talks (a playlist on the TED website) and 18 Best TED Talks for Addiction & Recovery. For additional psychoeducational videos, see 50 Helpful YouTube Videos for Psychoeducation.

For additional grief resources, see Grief & Loss: A Comprehensive Resource Guide and Free Grief Workbook (a 100-page PDF download).


TED Talks on Grief

1. Beyond Closure | Nancy Berns (2012)

Nancy Berns, a sociologist at Drake University, discusses grief and closure in this 18-minute TED Talk. She explains that closure is a fabricated concept, and that it is doing us more harm than good. This is one of the best TED Talks on grief and loss for counseling students, use with grieving clients, or for self-help.


2. Getting Cozy with Grief | Stacy Smith (2020)

Stacy Smith is a therapist, college professor, and the founder of Club Forget Me Not, a nonprofit that helps grieving children. In this 10-minute clip, she talks about death, grieving, and “being present in grief.”


3. We Don’t “Move On” from Grief. We Move Forward with It | Nora McInerny (2019)

Nora McInerny, writer and podcaster, talks about life and death in this 15-minute talk. She shares her personal experience with loss, and encourages viewers to rethink our approach to grief. This is one of the most powerful TED Talks on grief.


TED Talks on grief

50 Helpful YouTube Videos for Psychoeducation

A collection of 50+ short videos on mental health topics for psychoeducational use with clients, students, or for self-help.

For additional video resources, see 18 Best TED Talks for Addiction & Recovery.



YouTube Videos for Psychoeducation

The Brain


Depression, Bipolar Disorder, & Anxiety


Emotions


Grief


Meditation & Mindfulness


Relationships & Communication



Self-Esteem & Self-Compassion


Stress


Substance Use & Addiction


Trauma & PTSD


videos for psychoeducation

18 Best TED Talks for Addiction & Recovery

The best TED Talks for addiction and recovery, along with other powerful YouTube videos to play for clients in a treatment setting – or for yourself or for anyone who desires to learn more about substance use.

The following best TED Talks for addiction are entertaining, insightful, and though-provoking.


18 Best TED Talks for Addiction & Recovery

1. The 12 Steps According to Russell Brand (2018)

A 10-minute clip of Russell Brand’s interpretation of the 12 Steps. Humorous and honest.

2. Addiction: A Story of Stigma, A Story of Hope | Scott McFadden (2020)

This 18-minute talk delivered by Scott McFadden is one of the best TED Talks for addiction as it addresses stigma and sends a message of hope.

Excerpt: Scott McFadden is a Licensed Addictions Counselor, who also identifies as a person in long term recovery from heroin and other drugs. He shares a harrowing story of incarceration and a long journey to recovery while explaining the dynamics of addiction and the labels, shame, and stigma which have become the greatest obstacles to turning around the opioid epidemic.

He shows us the need to talk to one another to overcome the secret places where shame resides. This is a story of vulnerability and hope!

5. Addiction Neuroscience 101 (2018)

Approximately 25 minutes, an overview of the neurobiology of addiction.

4. Chris Herren Speaking on His Addiction Recovery Story | PeaceLove (2015)

A 17-minute motivational speech delivered by Chris Herren.

Excerpt: Hear former professional basketball player and motivational speaker Chris Herren speaking about his recovery from drug addiction. Since August of 2008, Herren has been drug-free and alcohol-free, and has refocused his life to put his sobriety and family above all other things.

5. Disconnected Brains: How Isolation Fuels Opioid Addiction | Rachel Wurzman (2018)

This fascinating 19-minute video clip from Rachel Wurzman is one of the best TED Talks for addiction as a biopsychosocial disorder.

Excerpt: Addiction to opioids is now officially a national emergency. But why are addiction rates spiking and what can we do about it? Neuroscientist Rachel Wurzman shares new research about how the brain reacts to opioids, replacing the sense of community and belonging human beings are losing. We are beginning to understand that solving the opioid epidemic will require us to focus on social factors surrounding those addicted.

6. Do You Have More Heart Than Scars? | Zackary Paben (2017)

A 17-minute inspirational talk by Zackary Paben.

Excerpt: How can resilience and interdependence impact the arch of our personal narrative to transcend from victim to hero? Since 1991, Zack has been empowering adolescents and adults as a mental health/recovery professional in a variety of modalities, including wilderness and residential.

As he continues to face his own visible and invisible scars, he innately has to acknowledge the wounds of others and encourage them in their own healing process.

7. Everything You Think You Know About Addiction Is Wrong | Johann Hari (2015)

A 15-minute video from Johann Hari. This piece is somewhat controversial because it suggests that addiction is a social/environmental issue while failing to address the impact of trauma, genetics, brain chemistry, etc. This clip is an excellent tool for generating discussions and is one of the best TED Talks for addiction.

Excerpt: What really causes addiction — to everything from cocaine to smart-phones? And how can we overcome it? Johann Hari has seen our current methods fail firsthand, as he has watched loved ones struggle to manage their addictions. He started to wonder why we treat addicts the way we do — and if there might be a better way.

As he shares in this deeply personal talk, his questions took him around the world, and unearthed some surprising and hopeful ways of thinking about an age-old problem.

8. Great Leaders Do What Drug Addicts Do | Michael Brody-Waite (2018)

An 19-minute talk from Michael Brody-Waite, entrepreneur and addict in recovery.

Excerpt: This is my story from drug addiction and homelessness to founding and leading a company on the Inc 500 list. There are 3 principles that saved me from death and set me apart as a leader. They are small enough to fit in your pocket, yet big enough to change your life. The best part is that anyone can take these principles and immediately implement them after watching this talk.

9. The Harm Reduction Model of Drug Addiction Treatment | Mark Tyndall (2017)

This 17-minute video from Mark Tyndall about harm reduction and recovery is one of the best TED Talks for addiction treatment.

Excerpt: Why do we still think that drug use is a law-enforcement issue? Making drugs illegal does nothing to stop people from using them, says public health expert Mark Tyndall. So, what might work?

Tyndall shares community-based research that shows how harm-reduction strategies, like safe-injection sites, are working to address the drug overdose crisis.

10. How Childhood Trauma Affects Health Across a Lifetime | Nadine Burke Harris (2015)

16-minute talk by Dr. Nadine Burke Harris on the impact of trauma.

Excerpt: Childhood trauma isn’t something you just get over as you grow up. Pediatrician Nadine Burke Harris explains that the repeated stress of abuse, neglect and parents struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues has real, tangible effects on the development of the brain.

This unfolds across a lifetime, to the point where those who’ve experienced high levels of trauma are at triple the risk for heart disease and lung cancer.

11. Let’s Quit Abusing Drug Users (2015)

19-minute video clip about addiction and recovery reform from Dr. Carl Hart. He discusses drug use in the context of poverty, social injustice, and ignorance. An excellent video for generating discussion and one of the best TED Talks for addiction and policy reform.

Excerpt: Carl Hart, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology at Columbia University, offers a provocative, evidence-based view of addiction and discusses how it should impact drug policy.

12. The Merits of Harm Reduction | Melissa Byers (2019)

14-minute video clip from Melissa Byers about addiction, harm reduction, and recovery.

Excerpt: Melissa shares her family’s personal story of addiction and how harm reduction plays a much more significant role to recovery than people realize.

13. Nuggets (2015)

A 5-minute cartoon clip of a kiwi bird who tastes a golden “nugget.” This simple animation doesn’t require words to send a powerful message about addiction. Hauntingly accurate.

14. The Power of Addiction and The Addiction of Power | Gabor Maté (2012)

This 19-minute speech delivered by Gabor Maté is one of the best TED Talks for addiction.

Excerpt: Canadian physician Gabor Maté is a specialist in terminal illnesses, chemical dependents, and HIV positive patients. Dr. Maté is a renowned author of books and columnist known for his knowledge about attention deficit disorder, stress, chronic illness and parental relations.

15. Recover Out Loud | Tara Conner (2017)

One of the best TED Talks for addiction, this 10-minute video clip from former Miss USA, Tara Conner, is all about her personal experience with substance use.

Excerpt: Tara Conner, Miss USA 2006, shares her life-long struggle with addiction and what she has learned from 10 years of sobriety. Addicts are not bad people that need to get good, but sick people that need to get well.

In this challenging and at times humorous talk, she calls for a different response to the addiction crisis.

16. Revitalize | Living With Addiction | Amber Valletta (2015)

16-minute inspirational talk delivered by Amber Valletta.

Excerpt: Supermodel, actress, and fashion icon Amber Valletta opens up for the first time about her daily struggle of living with addiction.

17. Rewriting the Story of My Addiction | Jo Harvey Weatherford (2015)

10-minute video clip from Jo Harvey Weatherford about her personal recovery journey.

Excerpt: Jo Harvey Weatherford develops and implements drug and alcohol prevention programs on the campus of The University of Nevada. In this candid talk she discusses the importance of the stories we tell ourselves about our behavior, and how she rewrote her own story of addiction to alcohol.

18. The Stigma of Addiction | Tony Hoffman (2018)

This 15-minute video from Tony Hoffman is one of the best TED Talks for addiction. He shares about his substance use and stigma.

Excerpt: There is a stigma which many assign to drug addicts, even long after they have overcome their addiction. Tony discusses how his first time smoking marijuana led to his eventual drug addiction, homelessness, prison, and finally redemption.


best ted talks for addiction