Clients who talk

Some clients would sometimes be happy to talk the whole session.

It’s understandable for a few reasons. They have a new insight they want to share. They may want to share something they have never or rarely told anyone else. And sometimes it’s uncomfortable to anticipate looking and feeling at what’s there.

When that happens, I usually let them talk for a few minutes, allowing them to get a few things off their chest.

Then, I may say: “It seems there are a few things we could look at: [….] Which one is the strongest for you?”, or “Would you like to look at [….]?”. Often, they’ll say yes and we’ll start with the resting. That may be enough, and we rest and inquire for the rest of the session. And sometimes the client may say “there is something else I need to tell you” and I usually listen for a bit.

Then I may say “For most of us, it’s sometimes easier to talk about something than actually look at it. It may seem scary to look at it, and it’s easier and more familiar to talk about it. I sometimes do that too.” And then wait for their response, which usually is some type of shift, followed by us actually doing direct looking and feeling.

It is important to let the client share what’s on their mind. At the same time, they are there for inquiry, and they are there for me to support them in doing what’s most helpful for them. And in most cases, inquiry is probably more helpful than just talking about something.

Most of us usually do that with our friends and therapists anyway. And an inquiry session is a unique and, in many ways, rare opportunity to face the scary images, words, and sensations head on. To see what’s there – to see the images and words as images and words, and feel the sensations as sensations – instead of being caught in the content of the images and words.

As usual, I write this as a reminder for myself. Sometimes, the client really wants to talk and that’s fine for a while. And it’s helpful for me to point out that we all sometimes avoid looking and feeling because it feels uncomfortable and seems scary, and they may be doing that just now. If they have done previous sessions, I may ask them to bring to mind one where it felt scary or uncomfortable at first, and then there was a shift and it felt more comfortable. If they haven’t had that experience, I may share my experience with just that.

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