Types of Responses: Strengths and Weaknesses
Feeling Reflections (emotions or physical sensations)—builds the relationship best
- none if done well, but if done superficially or with too many parroting remarks, you go in circles.
- Client feels heard and validated
- Therapist is confident she understands the client
- Takes the client deeper into feelings
- Strengthens the relationship
- Client gets to lead
Content Reflections (parts of the content or summarizations)
- Doesn’t add depth
- Doesn’t validate feelings
- Client knows you are following content
- Able to get clarification
Reflection of Discrepancy/Confrontations (part of you… and part of you…)
- Too many, and the client feels invalidated
- Hurts self esteem
- Helps client own polarities within her
- Increases awareness of suppressed or denied parts
Questions (intonation or who, what, where, how…)
- Too many, and the client interrogated
- Keeps client in her head
- Therapist is leading
- Deepens thought processes; exploration
- Can get specific information wanted by the therapist
- Great for assessment
Supportive Statements (good job or it will be okay)—harms the relationship
- Invalidates or minimizes clients feelings
- Creates and external locus of control
- It is our natural way of speaking
Directing Behavior (experiments or advice)
- Makes client dependent on therapist if advice works well
- Makes therapist responsible if advice goes bad
- No one takes advice anyway.
- Sometimes simple behavioral suggestions change thoughts and feelings
- Setting up experiments in session can break the monotony
- Education for lower functioning clients is sometimes helpful
- Depending on culture, some clients expect a certain amount of advice
Self-Disclosure (“me, too” or answering direct questions from client or my experience of you in session)
- The session becomes about the therapist
- The client can avoid difficult moments in session by asking a direct question
- Sometimes giving a client a direct answer is necessary, culturally. Be aware of motivation for question.
- Makes the relationship more real, because you are in a relationship
- Giving your perception and feedback that’s hard to hear is necessary at times.
Silence: (more than 8 seconds long)
- The ball is in your court as therapist and you don’t know what to say = AKWARD!
- Creates too much anxiety for client
- Client might be thinking or getting in touch with feelings, which are slow processes and require silence on the part of the therapist.
- Allows client to break the silence allows the client to lead
- If prefaced with, “give me a moment to think about what you said” it let’s the client know that the therapist is really working hard and cares about what she’s going to say next.
Small Talk: (How are you?)
- They are paying for your time for help, not to be a friend
- Allows the client to avoid meaningful issues
- Culturally, it’s sometimes necessary at the beginning of the relationship; check out the motivation