ONLY For Therapists

Up to now, 2019, I have written a lot about the things I have learned working with others, including colleagues. Now I want to say something to therapists who see clients.

I am going to mention just one quality YOU need.

It is the same quality that safe experiments can foster in people who choose to work with us.

It is ……………………….. CURIOSITY

You may not have been trained in how to generate it, but its there …………. somewhere. Some have it, others don’t. ALL can search for it and then PLAY with it. See Stephen Porges to explore more. No hyperlink here – too easy!!!

P.S If any Visitors ignored my instruction at the Page Heading …….. I like you …… curious person. Please read on …….

Sometimes, colleagues tell me I am saying little that is new.

THAT IS TRUE. I am saying little that is new and I am not interested in saying anything new.

This is where the category error I mention elsewhere come in.  The existence of a large number of models in therapy suggest that leading therapists, researchers and authors have something new to say; implying that will be The Answer to Life, The Universe and Everything (I exaggerate here, for effect).

The thing I am interested in is people-I-work-with finding something new – to think, to say or to do;  something that is right for them and their lives, now.

To be contrary here, and to highlight the fact that I have my own views on this, and I am no passive observer in the therapy experience,

I have a hierarchy of things that give me job satisfaction. Number One is the very best …. and so on, down.

These are listed from 1 to 10. I suspect there is a one, plus. I may be adding it as time goes by and you could help me here, if you are minded to do so:

Number One: A client who tells me they are ready to finish therapy. They know what they want to do next and how they might go about it. They are confident about the ‘back door’ available to them when the unintended and unknown consequences arise (not if, but when).

Number Two: A client who tells me that they have learned how to design and apply a small safe experiment of their own. They find there own way to describe the results and what they want to do with those results.

Number Three: A client who takes an idea for a safe experiment, jiggles it about a bit and can connect the result to a range of possibilities available to them.

Number Four: A client who takes an ideas for a safe experiment from our conversations and does something else with it. They notice the outcome.

Number Five: A client doing something different, brings back the results of their safe experiment, and identifies what they can do differently next time.

Number Six: A client doing something, bringing back the results and saying how they will build on the outcome.

Number Seven: A client telling something I mentioned some time ago. It now sounds like their own idea. Maybe I didn’t really say this!!

Number eight: A client comes into a next session and remembers something that was said and comment on the way it had made them think or act differently.

Number Nine: A client telling me they had not thought of something I had just mentioned.

Number Ten: clients look at me and says things that suggest I am a good role model.

What’s behind this hierarchy?  Number ten shows a sensitivity to our conversations and our relationship. At Nine, Eight and Seven, it seems to me that the person wants to learn from our work explicitly.

As the Numbers rise, the learning becomes more implicit – it is not obviously stated. The learning is OWNED. It is personal. The results suggest the learning is emerging less from what I say – or their reaction to what I say. It is more related to their understanding of the world in which they live.

From Six, onwards, a client is actively observing their evidence and the implications for their daily lives arising from it.

Towards the top, individuals begin notice what they can do without guidance, and they have the confidence to do it.

Anyone want to say: there, Robin, you do have a model you are following after all.

If this is so, then it is an Adult Learning model and I owe a great deal to the students and trainees who educated me over several decades in social work education, Higher Education and Continuing Professional Education.

A particular word of thanks is due, I think, to an old colleague, David Leadbetter as we worked together on the delivery of Handling Agression and Violence in the Work-place for several years.

As I am at it, can I include a word of thanks to the medical students and Consultation Skills Team at University of East Anglia – in more recent years.

Return to:


How to give yourself a nudge

How to design a safe experiment