Losing Focus as a Therapist

Mary Jo Barrett on Being Better Attuned to Clients

Rich Simon

When in a session, we know that our primary initial responsibility as a therapist is to listen intently to what clients say, giving them our undivided attention. But being only human, there are times when we get distracted and are no longer focused on what they’re telling us.

Maybe their issue triggers a memory of something in our own life, or maybe we feel uncomfortable or unsafe with what a client is confessing. Whatever the reason for our distraction, clients can tell when our thoughts are elsewhere, and their reactions are often to assume that we’re having negative thoughts about them.

In a clip from her session in our new webcast series, Ethics in an Age of Informality, Mary Jo Barrett—founder and director of the Center for Contextual Change—talks about a time in her clinical work when she lost focus on what a client was telling her and the process she puts herself through to become more attuned to her clients.

This is just one of the many ethical issues that will be covered in our new webcast series.

Ethics in an Age of Informality:
Protecting Yourself When Boundaries Blur

Click here for full course details

Here’s a preview of what each session in this series offers you:

  • Lisa Ferentz on Countertransference: Probing the Heart of Our Ethical Dilemmas
    Examine the personal issues that can lead therapists to violate boundaries using clips from the HBO series, In Treatment.

  • Mitchell Handelsman on Beyond Good Intentions: Positive Ethics with Difficult Clients
    Explore the principles of ethical excellence and how to maintain the highest standards even with your most challenging cases.

  • Mary Jo Barrett on The Ethically Attuned Therapist
    Learn how to effectively establish boundaries from the very first session.

  • Frederic Reamer on The Ambiguities of Ethical Practice: Defining Our Clinical Role and Its Limits
    Get a clear understanding of how to protect yourself from potential ethical violations when the issue isn’t black or white.

  • DeeAnna Nagel on The Ethics of Online Therapy
    Address the ethical questions that arise when offering therapy online.

  • Kenneth Hardy on The Ethics of Self Disclosure
    Examine the benefits and risks of being more transparent as a clinician.

Ethics in an Age of Informality
Protecting Yourself When Boundaries Blur

Click here for full course details

Topic: Challenging Clients & Treatment Populations | Ethics

Tags: ethical issues | attuned therapist | boundaries | Countertransference | ethical issue | Ethical violation | Mary Jo Barrett | online therapy | therapist | therapists | therapy

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1 Comment

Saturday, December 14, 2013 1:35:54 AM | posted by Hanna McDonough
Mary Jo Barrett is great in terms of original, carefully thought through content about how being present in the room with your client IS ETHICS. And the bonus is that she is hilarious bc she is so totally herself. She is being herself. That's ethics too: not a fake bone in her body and does not care if this works for anyone else. It works for her: that it. She's an original. I loved how Rich smiled at her sort of indulgently, as if when anyone is really being them selves and fully disclosing their every inner and outer thought how can they be anything but authentic. transparent, present,
Loved it,
Hanna McDonough