There are many times in therapy when I am told something by my client that few other people know.  Sometimes, I am the only person who knows other than the person who has told me.  It takes courage to open a secret, and takes careful listening to know when a secret has been shared.  I try to be mindful during...

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Marty consistently talked about his garden each time we met for therapy.  It was his greatest source of pride and, since he retired, where he spent most of his time.  He described it in great detail, often telling me about new plants he had bought or perennials he had transplanted.  He brought in pictures of his garden frequently and eventually...

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Relationship Defined:  “an emotional or other connection between people”

When I begin meeting with someone, I try to make a point of discussing how therapy works.  I talk about the importance of the content of our sessions, and I talk about the importance of exploring the relationship that evolves between us.  I share that what we talk about is important...

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It is inevitable.  We will cause pain to our clients.

Initially, it must seem counterintuitive to consider that, at some point, we will cause pain to one or more of our clients.  In fact, at the very core of our work is the idea of “doing no harm”.  As we consider the idea of causing pain to our clients as...

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If you were to look at a therapist in action, you might not see much action.  There I sit opposite the client, looking intently, commenting on occasion and, yes, sometimes just nodding in agreement while a client speaks.  What could possibly be happening that makes this at all effective?

The answer begins with how a therapist listens.   It is a...

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“You look bored,” or “worried,” or “tired.”

 If I am, I say so, but always with some commentary.  I might say, “Yes, I am feeling worried—the choice you are describing seems unsafe,” or “The decision you are facing is difficult no matter what you chose, and I am concerned about your well-being.”

It is harder to do, but I am...

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On more than one occasion, I have had clients comment, “I’ve never been allowed to talk about this before.”  The word “allowed” always stood out to me.  They didn’t mean that someone had forbidden them to talk about a particular topic, but rather that they had a self-imposed silence brought about by a lack of safety.  This lack of safety...

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