In Consultation

In Consultation

Expanding Your Expressive Range

By Robert Taibbi

May/June 2017

Q: I often feel that I say the right things to my clients, but I’m not sure my words have enough of an impact. What can I do?

A: I recently read an article that made the case for why Louis C.K. is one of the top comics in the country by essentially deconstructing one of his jokes—a minute-and-a-half vignette about playing Monopoly with his daughters. As the article revealed, what seemed like an ad-libbed story when performed on stage was actually the product of meticulous crafting: each word was carefully chosen and matched with voice inflections, raised eyebrows, and hand-over-heart gestures at just the right moment and in just the right way to maximize the comedic impact.

In many ways, therapy resembles improv more than stand-up comedy, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t take a lesson from Louis C.K. and pay closer attention to not only what we say, but how we say it, ensuring that we, too, can maximize our impact, even if it’s on an audience of one. Like it or not, our conversations with any client will leave some emotional impression. We can’t not create an experience, so why not be more deliberate in crafting one? With this in mind, here are my suggestions on how to performance-up your therapy.

Voice and gestures. Most performing artists know how to use their voices and bodies as instruments. Through volume, rhythm, and range they’re able to convey mood, underscore their words, and tap…

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