Therapists love their work. But the truth is, even the most dedicated therapists can face times when their sessions feel stale. There’s nothing quite as difficult as trying to infuse your sessions with life when you yourself feel uninspired—and a little panicked.
There’s nothing wrong with developing a grab bag of tried and trued activities and approaches that, while still helping your client toward their therapeutic goals, will also shift the energy of the sessions when things start to feel stagnant.
The number one thing to remember is that All Roads Lead to Rome. In other words, give yourself permission to deviate from the road you’re on to try a different route to get to the same place, your clients therapeutic goals.
We often feel we can’t take those kinds of risks. I’m here to tell you, we must. The more we try new things, the more we trust our instincts in our sessions.
So, let’s start right now with perhaps the simplest way to deepen engagement and get to deeper material in your therapy sessions.
Change Things Up
So, here’s how that might look in practice.
1. If you’re primarily talking, do something else: draw, write, walk, listen to music
➠ Check out my free article: 40 Art Prompts for Therapy
2. If it’s primarily you who’s active, have the client ask questions. Have them tell you what questions to ask. Have them ask and answer those questions. Have them ask you about how you handle things they are struggling to handle.
3. If you’re primarily asking questions to draw the client out, switch it up and make observations. Almost any observations. Make sure they’re objective, not assumptions or mind-reading. Then, check them out. “I notice you’re fidgeting with your pen. What’s up?”
4. If you’re talking a lot about not much, try silence and breathing. See what you feel instead of what you think. Sometimes clients’ feelings are right on the surface, waiting for the space to emerge. You can invite your client into the silence. Set a timer for 5 minutes. Breathe. Then invite them to say what they notice inside.
5. If you’re talking feelings, talk daily routine or habits, hobbies, relationships, dreams, aspirations, fantasies (hello, Dr. Freud!) humor, pop culture.
6. If you’re talking ideas, bring the focus to the body. Ask the client how their body is feeling. Take some time to breathe and focus. Ask a tense body part what it’s trying to communicate. Accept what the client says. It could be as simple as, “I’m sore from so much computer time.” Is it about self-care? Hiding in their home office? Putting in too much overtime? Not being able to afford a decent chair? Not willing to spend the money on themselves?
It Could Get Messy <gasp>
Switching things up could get a little messy. As in, you may not know where things are going, what will come up, how to finish what you’ve started, how to understand what does come up. And that’s okay. You may have messy to figure out, but you probably will not be bored.
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