THINGS I OFTEN FIND MYSELF SAYING TO MY CLIENTS...      

One way to get a sense of how a therapist operates is to take note of what he or she tends to emphasize by repetition.

 

Here is a sampler of some of the (more useful) things I often find myself saying to my clients -- and to myself, for that matter -- in one way or another.

 

At all points along the psychotherapeutic journey:

-

“So, what inside of you calls for our deep attention?”

 

“And what (thoughts/feelings) are arising for you now?”

 

“And what physical sensations are you aware of in your body right now?”

 

“Is it true, what your mind is telling you about this (situation/relationship/memory/feeling)?”

 

“And why is that a problem?”

 

More when therapy is just getting started:

-

“I don’t think you telling me about [what’s happened since our last session] is your highest option.  How about telling me about what is alive inside you right now?”

 

“Are you sure you want to pay me this much money to talk about this??”

 

“What are you really longing for here, in your heart of hearts?”

 

(Or, put more in the vernacular: “What are you aiming to get out of this?”)

 

“How can I help you here?”

 

“What are you aware of in terms of your own part in creating or amplifying this suffering for yourself?”

 

(Or, said another way):

“Are you adding anything to this situation that is increasing the level of your suffering?”

 

(Or, said yet another way):

“What is your mind telling you about this situation that is making trouble for you?”

 

“See if you can stay with the sensations in your body for a moment – not so much what your mind has to say about them”

 

When therapy is “working”:

“What is arising in your heart (the center of your chest), right now?”

 

“Breathe into it – just breeeathe into it…”

 

“Underneath the (anger/anxiety/judgment/boredom) you just described, what are you afraid of right now?”

 

(Or, said another way):

“What are you resisting inside yourself right now?”

 

(Or, said yet another way):

“What are you trying not to feel right now?”

 

“Let’s see if we can meet that place inside you with (acceptance/curiosity/respect/compassion) together”

 

(Or, said another way):

“See if you can embrace and include what’s going on inside of you right now, instead of trying to suppress it or change it or avoid it”

 

(Or, said yet another way):

“What happens if you simply allow that to be exactly as it is inside you?”

 

(...and yet another):

“What happens if you relax the contractions in your body a bit, and just let that energy move into you and through you however it wants to?”

 

[You may notice a theme developing here... :)]

 

(And finally, a psychotherapeutic classic):

“And how does this relate to you and me?”

 

[I'll bet you thought I was going to say "And how does that make you feel?" -- didn't you??]

 

In couples therapy:

-

“Instead of saying this to me, say it to your partner -- and I suggest you look them in the eyes when you do.”

 

“It’s easy to see your partner’s part in what’s not working here.  What about your own part?”

 

“What are you afraid might happen if you actually heard what your partner is saying to you right now?”

 

“What are you afraid might happen if you stopped trying to control your partner in this way?”

 

“Don’t worry about me, I’m listening to every word you say.  Keep your attention with your partner, and with what you’re feeling in your body as you do.”

 

“Instead of telling your partner what they’re doing ‘wrong,' how about telling them what it is you really want from them?

 

“Would you try saying that again with more respect and compassion, and this time look him/her in the eye?”

 

“Okay, let’s continue the conversation by playing ‘debate team’ [please pardon the hetero pronouns]: “You argue HER point, and you argue HIS point.”

 

“Do you feel more open and connected with your partner than you did before that last exchange -- or less open and connected?”

 

“What happened for you in that exchange that contributed to bringing this shift about?”

 🦠😮🤭😱

As you may have noticed, "things are different now."

 

The advent of COVID-19 has pretty much required that psychotherapeutic encounters take place in the realm of remote digital communication -- at least for now.

Although I first assumed this would significantly weaken the power of the psychotherapeutic encounter in general, I have been happily surprised to discover that there are both disadvantages AND advantages to this medium of communication and connection.

Given a sane choice, I would much prefer to meet in person.  However, for the time being, my assessment of the downside risk of possible infection renders meeting in person highly undesirable, if not downright unethical (for one thing, my wife and office partner has a compromised immune system, which makes it out of the question for me to risk becoming a carrier).

We can utilize the platform of your choice (Skype, FaceTime, zoom -- or my HIPAA compliant web portal).  

 

I will make some suggestions about how to maximize our sense of connectedness with some simple adjustments...

© 2020 by Tony Rooney, Ph.D.