Types of Therapist Responses

You can have several of these types of responses within one response to the client, such as: “you are tired of being taken for granted.” (Feeling and content reflection). See the workbook for more details.

Feeling Reflections: 

  • Emotions (happy, sad, angry, overwhelmed, etc)
  • Physical sensations (burdened, weighted down, pressured, etc)

Content Reflections: 

  • Parts of the content (not a feeling reflection) or
  • Client’s belief or thoughts or
  • Summarizations

Reflection of Discrepancy/Confrontations: 

  • Contradictions, “you say you want to lose weight, yet you keep eating fast food daily.”
  • Two sides of one self: “part of you… and part of you…”


  • Intonation—raising your voice at the end—or
  • Starting a sentence with: who, what, where, when, how, is, does, etc…

Supportive Statements: 

  • Reinforcement or judgment: “good job” or
  • Trying to make them feel better or see another point of view, “it will be okay”

Directing Behavior: 

  • In session such as experiments like an empty chair—“pretend your mother is sitting in that chair and tell her how you feel,” or
  • Advice 


  • Disclosing your own experience as it relates to the client’s content—“me, too” or
  • Answering direct questions from client or my experience of you in session—“When you speak loudly like that, I experience you as feeling angry.”


  • More than 8 seconds long—whether the client or the therapist

Small Talk: 

  • Non-therapy oriented conversation such as, “How are you?”