Every Saturday I plan to present a book or journal article that might change your perspective in assisting yourself or your clients. In this case, the therapist’s perspective.
For those of you who work with purely voluntary clients, think about their initial decision to pick up the phone and say “I need help”. What is this process like? For children and adolescents it is typically someone who makes this decision for them. Then there are those who are mandated to treatment. Why should anyone start spilling their guts to us?
Faber, Berano, and Capobianca (2004) asked clients their perception of disclosing information to a therapist. In a small sample size they found that they reported feelings of anxiety right before and shame directly after disclosing secrets about themselves to their therapist. But it also “engenders feelings of safety, pride, and authenticity” and leads to a “sense of release of emotional and physical tension.”
This makes sense but I think this is something we take for granted. We are invited (or uninvited) guests in people lives. The pain, the discomfort is something that I sometimes take for granted. I think, “They must want my help, so lets go,” or “Why would they come to my office to not tell me what is really bothering them?” Let’s not lose sight of the possibility that no matter how old, voluntary or not, there are some feelings of anxiety or shame sitting across from you. As someone who works with emotionally disturbed children this really got me thinking about shame. The decision to sit with me is made for them. Do they think, “Why don’t my friends have a clinical case manager that comes to their house?” Before we plow through with therapy think about the person in front of you and acknowledge how anxiety and feelings about “how they got here”. Faber, Berano, and Capobianca (2004) demonstrated it might be worth your time.
Faber, B.A., Berano K.C. and Capobianco, J.A. Clients’ Perceptions of the Process and Consequences of Self-Disclosure
in Psychotherapy. Journal of Counseling Psychology 2004, Vol. 51, No. 3, 340–346
found on pdf here: https://www.google.com/#q=Clients%E2%80%99+Perceptions+of+the+Process+and+Consequences+of+Self-Disclosure+in+Psychotherapy