|David Schnarch Community of Excellence Anxiety Attachment Symposium 2012 Mindfulness Narcissistic Clients Trauma Mary Jo Barrett Clinical Mastery Brain Science Men in Therapy Diets CE Comments Wendy Behary Couples Mind/Body The Future of Psychotherapy Alan Sroufe William Doherty Future of Psychotherapy Great Attachment Debate Attachment Theory Etienne Wenger Clinical Excellence Gender Issues Ethics Couples Therapy Linda Bacon Challenging Cases|
|The Tao of Improv - Page 11|
We know how being truthful and vulnerable apply to our work and know how hard it is for clients and us to do it. Telling the truth and allowing ourselves to be vulnerable are ways of confronting fear. Clients often test the emotional waters by initially tossing us a low-risk problem. Sarah comes in saying that she's struggling with getting her kids in bed. Lou says he's having trouble sleeping and thinks it's work stress. After a few sessions, Sarah mentions her childhood sexual abuse, her nightly bingeing behavior. Lou talks about the big argument he and his wife had over the weekend, and his nightly fantasies of walking out and leaving her and the kids.
Sometimes we freeze up ourselves. A client reminds us of our mother or has been referred to us by the top therapist in town, and we find ourselves stepping into our "professional" role. We try to impress—making what we think are cleaver interpretations, giving mini lectures to show how much we know. We worry about how we're doing, rather than listening to the client. We make sure we have eye contact and work hard to look concerned, rather than relaxing and seeing what comes up inside us in the moment.
The message in this rule of truth and vulnerability is that honesty should always be the default position. In a pinch, when you don't know what to say, you say you don't know what to say. Rather than scrambling in your head to make the right interpretation in the moment, you stay close to the process and talk about how you feel—"I'm worried," "I'm confused," "I'm feeling frustrated"—which allows the client to be in the moment and to do the same. You don't hide behind pat answers—the mini-lecture on anxiety or anger—but push yourself toward authenticity and immediacy. You take the lead and help clients follow it
Brad stands up straight, wipes his eyes one last time, and pumps his arm. "You're right," he says "Let's do this for Dad."
"Trish," I say, "sorry to keep you. Let's see what you got in that case. . . . Oh no, bold print!"
End of scene.