I have often talked about how we talk with clients over the phone or on Facetime or Skype (with video or audio alone, dependant on the client’s wishes) but the following is a great example, I think, of using our Silent Session over the phone with a client.
“Rachel” was just so resistant to talking about anything and who was just about to cancel the telephone session. With Rachel’s permission, I recorded the session and the direct transcript is below:
EM:Would you like to start the session now Rachel?
RACHEL: You know what….I think I’ll leave it today. Just realised I’m not sure if I want to talk about it. Shall we just leave it?
EM: Yes of course we can..or… I could run a Silent Session with you – shall I explain?
RACHEL: A what?
EM: It’s a way of offering an opportunity for you to think things through without disclosing what you don’t want to – how does that sound?
RACHEL: Um, yes, I think, how do we that?
EM: Okay, I will ask you some specifically tailored questions and I would like you to answer out loud in your head for me and then indicate when you are ready for the next question. Some of these questions, I will ask you to answer in a list form – do you understand what I mean?
RACHEL: I think so
EM: Do you have something there that you can use to indicate with – a pen maybe or spoon, anything that will make a noise really
RACHEL: erm…. this sounds really weird but…but I’ll go with it – yes, wait, I will get something. Okay I’m ready
EM: Okay, Thinking now about the problem you would like to address:Are there any times when the problem is less or you feel you deal with it differently? Please take your time to think about the question, answer out loud in your head Rachel and indicate to me by tapping on the phone when you are ready for the next question
RACHEL: SILENCE FOR 8 seconds then taps on the ‘phone
EM: And now answer out loud in your head Rachel “what you do differently”
at these times
RACHEL: SILENCE FOR 55 SECONDS THEN: Can I talk instead?
EM: Yes, of course, would you prefer to?
RACHEL: Yeh, its okay.I didnt know what to expect but its okay. I know straight away that things are better for me when I avoid certain people – its mad I know but there are two people in my life that as soon as I am around them, I get really down because they are so negative about me and I feel it in a very physical way. As soon as I am away from them, that bad feeling leaves too. As soon as you said it, it made sense to me that that is exactly what I do differently – I avoid them and get on with being with people who just get on with life and don’t look to put others down. That is the main thing, the centre of it really
EM: Okay, what would you like to focus on for this session Rachel?
RACHEL: Can I talk through how I feel when I am not around them rather than how I feel when I am cos even that brings negative thoughts to me – I would like to stick with your first question
EM: Then so would I. Talk me through, if you can, how you avoid them and what difference it makes to you – that’s great.
At that point, Rachel asked me to stop recording.
Of course, sometimes clients go through the whole Silent Session but other times, as in Rachel’s session – they have had the opportunity to realise that our approach is not about tracing the pathology of the problem but is aimed at eliciting exceptions to that problem; that it’s not the intrusive questioning that she had expected but is founded in deShazer’s original principle that “you don’t need to know a client’s problem in order to be able to help them resolve it”.
Often, clients are reassured by being offered a Silent Session and therefore will accept an open, interactive session almost immediately.
The Silent Session is both a useful engaging, reassuring resource as well as a whole session framework for clients who otherwise would not be receiving any help at all.