I heard a quote this morning from a 19th century French statesman: “When we ask for advice, we are usually looking for an accomplice”.
It resonated with me. Whether consciously or sub-consciously, I think we are happiest when we are met with agreement. We don’t have to think too hard then and we don’t have to grapple with the minutae of the moral dilemma we might find ourselves in.
How many times have we relayed an injustice to a friend and been infuriated when they behave reasonably and put the other person’s point of view instead of just colluding and sympathising? How often have we made a decision then asked for a friend’s opinion and, when it differs from our own, withdrawn the request for advice?
It often doesn’t differ in therapy – the client “wants to talk things through” and “wants advice on moving forward” but if it goes against their view of the world, the subconscious struggle often distracts them. Your subconscious, of course, wants you to have everything you want and will protect you from any outsider view that contradicts that.
However, you and your subconscious, alone, together, without outside interference? Without the urge to dismiss what you don’t want to hear? Without the conflict of presenting the best PR for ourselves that we do when being reproached or encouraged to change? That’s a different matter – you are on a slightly more even keel.
It is for that reason that I developed The Silent Session – this allows the practitioner to ask the questions but requires no verbal answers from the client: the client answers “out loud in their head” – private speech – and indicates in a precise way, previously agreed, when they are ready to move on to the next question. It is the ultimate non-intrusive therapeutic approach.
I recently trained a group of Drug & Alcohol Recovery workers – some of the staff were in Recovery themselves. When I paired the group to take part in paired experiential Silent Sessions, those who were in Recovery got it immediately: the staff who were not in Recovery took a while longer and the block for them was often “But I feel redundant – what is my role in helping?” It took one of the “recovering” staff to point out that “therapy is not for your benefit – its for the client””
My favourite quote from staff who we have trained in our Silent Session framework is “There was no where else to go but with the truth, it just sat there in my head. But if I had to speak instead, I could have distracted myself from hearing it by my creating a response for you which would have been totally different”.
The Silent Session is currently being used in a University in the South East of England to allow students the opportunity to “work things through” at an early stage: to really listen to themselves and how they can better self-care/work out their study time to better effect, for instance. Feedback from the University, is encouraging: “The idea of the client being the “expert” and therefore holding the key knowledge about what will benefit them was truly eye-opening” and from the Disability Support worker: “Provided with very useful and effective tools to use with students in a variety of situations – planning, relationships, decision making”.
Given that, for approximately 5,000 students at the average university and only approximately 20 Counsellors and support staff – an early Silent Session opportunity, universally offered, would help in reducing the low-level anxieties and difficulties that students are met with from escalating.
The Silent Session is not right for everyone – but at the very least it is a great engaging tool: what better way to provide a session to a client who does not consider that they have any part in the problem and therefore the solution or a resistant client who is determined “not to speak to you”.
For more information on The Silent Session, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or Tel: 0208 947 8093 for further information.
Our DVD “Achieving Change” is available now.
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