It feels like some of my most recent Blogs have focused on how we respond to a client – what we say or don’t say as a therapist, and also on what a client expresses both in what they say and what they don’t say.
“I don’t know what to say” expresses exactly how I felt when I sat down to write this Blog.
I once worked with a therapist who used silence quite a lot. And I remember frequently saying, “Please say something….” His usual reply was “What do you want me to say?….”
That was going nowhere fast.
There have been many times when I have been with a client and have been really unsure about what to say. Sometimes, I have allowed the silence. Sometimes, I have said something to fill the silence which has deepened the process. Sometimes I have filled the silence with words simply to fill the silence. Sometimes I have said something which hasn’t helped the process at all.
And sometimes, I have been brave enough to say, “I’m not sure what to say right now.”
That to me is a profound expression of the relationship between therapist and client. It’s real. It’s here and now. It’s reflecting the process of relationships outside, within that client-therapist relationship and within the therapeutic space.
It’s honest. It’s open. And it’s human.
But it’s an uncomfortable place to be, and we are usually much happier feeling we know the “right” words to say at that moment for the client. We think that what we say has to be “right” – we are desperate not to “get it wrong”. We feel we have to do the work to get the client to a different place.
Actually I think therapy is at its deepest about being real in relationship. Being open in relationship. Being human in relationship. And through that, about enabling the client to experience that process in a different way. And reaching their own honesty, openness, reality and human-ness.
It’s a very powerful process.
But only if we allow it to be and only if we are willing to engage with it at that deepest level.
I don’t really know what else to say.