Can a therapist be direct?
We often feel concerned about upsetting our clients.
It comes from a place of caring; it’s what drives us toward being therapists.
Like everyone else, we follow rules that don’t work. We talk around a subject, beat about the bush and delay the critical conversation.
We deflect our fear and guilt. We trade short-term relief for longer-term empathy fatigue. I’ve done it many times. Too many.
Be bold. Be direct. Is it OK?
Directness needn’t feel abrasive. You can be brave AND gentle. You can soften your delivery through empathy and compassion. Create safety and go direct to the problem.
We can tolerate discomfort inside a warm and supportive environment. Find compassionate ground.
Be curious, courageous, willing and flexible.
Use the present moment to build curiosity to felt experiences and the history that has influenced them.
Interrupt excessive talking to change the context.
Make room for fear and uncertainty. Wait before moving in with a technique.
Turn to other psychological processes when a client shows repeated resistance.
Directness can be compassionate. It’s compassion in action. You help people faster, alleviating distress sooner and teaching them what needs to be done.
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