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Q&A – What should a therapist do when the client keeps asking for suggestions over and over again in therapy?

Q&A


Welcome to the very first post of Q&A Wednesdays!


I hope you find this useful and informative.

These Wednesday posts wouldn’t be possible without your questions, so get asking!

Either leave a comment below with your question, or message me via this contact form.


1

This first question comes from a fellow psychotherapist that has just started her career. She asks:

What should a therapist do when the client keeps asking for suggestions over and over again in therapy?

 


2There are a few things to take into account when answering this question.

 

First, the therapist asking is starting their career. I can only assume that it is feeling a bit overwhelming to be seeing her first clients, as happens to all of us when we first start as therapists or in any new endeavour for that matter!

In regards to this last observation, I would say to her, take your time in processing what is demanded of you, take it to supervision, and know that you don’t have to answer to the client’s demand for suggestions as such. You can explore what this is about, why the client wants suggestions – I am again assuming that they want advice rather than an exploration of their situation and to resolve it together.

Second, giving advice is something that we are not meant to do as therapists. An easy but obvious reason for this is that what I might suggest your client does might be something that makes sense for me, from my own story and circumstances. It might work for me, but let them go and try the exact same thing and you will possibly have a client angry at you for suggesting such a thing.

I will tell my clients, if they ask for advice (I try to say this on the first session to avoid misunderstandings, but these things are not one-off’s), exactly what I’ve just said – I am not here to give advice but to support through the process of working through their issues so they can get their life back on track. This in turn means more than an easy fix – the stuff we work through will generate deep and meaningful change in the person’s mind, heart, and subsequently in their relationships.

Don’t be afraid to voice this in his way, as clients will appreciate your honesty and the fact that you are there to help, just maybe not in the way they expected!


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