Things you should probably never say to a client, that I said anyway
As craniosacral practitioners or perhaps as therapists of any kind (or maybe just as people that work with people every day!) there's certain things we think but never say. Right? There's certain things we see and feel that we immediately just know is better kept inside.
But my question is, how do we know?
Well, maybe we feel it. Maybe it's too outrageous to actually say out loud. Maybe it's downright hurtful or judgemental. Maybe we are so impeccably attuned to our client's needs that we just know what we can and can't say to facilitate their highest good.
And so we learn. We learn patterns and frameworks internally without realising we are learning what is in some ways, a sophisticated practice of self censorship. We learn how to calibrate our internal voice in order to present ourselves to our clients in a way that we feel is in their best interest. But how do we actually know that it is?
We learn patterns and frameworks internally without realising we are learning what is in some ways, a sophisticated practice of self censorship.
We don't. We don't know anything. We are just employing our inner compass. And people use a compasses when they don't want to get lost. When they want to navigate. So we use our inner compass to navigate ourselves and the unfolding client relationship. That's fair right? Of course, I hear you say. Otherwise there would be CHAOS! And that would be DANGEROUS.
So here we are holding danger and chaos in one hand and sensitive navigation in the other. And within those two extremes we are making a choice. More often than not, we choose not to be lost with our clients, we choose to navigate and to know. What opens then is a field of knowing yet we are at the same time, expecting our client to explore their unknown with us. We have a well calibrated and sophisticated inner compass whilst the client sits in front of us feeling like their equipment consists of a broken torch, a frozen google map and soggy walking boots. Doesn't feel like such an even playing field does it?
We have a well calibrated and sophisticated inner compass whilst the client sits in front of us feeling like their equipment consists of a broken torch, a frozen google map and soggy walking boots.
So what do we do? Answer all together now: We help them find their inner compass! That's an easy answer though. That's what you'll find written on most counselor and therapist website before you've even met them. 'Perhaps you're struggling with [insert crisis event] right now, if so, therapy could be helpful'
Everyone wants a compass when they're lost. It's logical and it's responsible to help them find one. What are we doing differently though? Not everybody (perhaps nobody really) wants to sit in a shit storm of internal chaos. Because it feels, well, like a shit storm. But I wonder (outloud, perhaps irresponsibly, but who really cares or reads these posts anyway hopefully not the CSTA oopsie) if actually there is something that happens when we join our client in the storm. When we stand in the tornado with them as hail batters down on our faces and we can't for the life of us, see a single thing. I wonder if rather than helping clients to search their backpacks and pockets and black-hole-tote bags for their internal compass, we could just turn around and say 'Well, it's very windy here and this shit stinks!'
I wonder if rather than helping clients to search their backpacks and pockets and black-hole-tote bags for their internal compass, we could just turn around and say 'Well, it's very windy here and this shit stinks!'
What happens when there is no expert, there is just an equal. Who takes the lead? Who knows? In this way, we give our client a chance to lead themselves out of what they got themselves into. We give them their power back.
Would that make us unethical? Would it trigger our inner criminal? Or could it be something that makes something possible. What's that something? I have absolutely no idea. Nor do I advocate this approach with clients. Nor would I necessarily repeat anything i've said below ever again. But something happened. Inside the something there was...something. A feeling. A realness. An unspeakable shifting of ground.
So here's my blog series of 10 things that I've said to a client that I probably shouldn't have, and what happened after. Each client example gets its own blog post.
'Anyone can look outside and get angry, why don't you take a look at yourself for once?'
What happened: Client spends yet another session blazing with fury about Boris and Brexit and expressing her total disdain at our political situation whilst mentioning nothing about herself. This continued every week for five weeks.
What I probably should have said: It sounds like you're unhappy about how these people are behaving and i'm wondering if perhaps it reminds you of something?
What I actually said: 'Anyone can look outside at the world and get angry, that's easy, why don't you take a look at yourself for once?'
'What does that mean?'
'Take a look at yourself before you look outside'
'I don't know. I've never done that'
'Well maybe you should start'
'I wouldn't know where to start'
'Start by being honest'
'About what you're really angry about'
'I'm angry with my entire family come to think of it...I hate them'
What happened: The client began to recount early childhood experiences that had made her angry. She started to realise she had been angry with her family for a very long time. As a young girl she was never able to express her rage because there was a risk that she might lose her family and thus her place within the system. She started to realise that because of this fear she was too terrified to self reflect, incase something came up within her that lead her into a feeling of loss.
What the outcome was: The client started to journal for the first time in her life. She said it was the first time she had 'self reflected' and was starting to understand how she felt at a deeper level. In sessions she talked more about herself and disclosed more honest and heartfelt emotions. Perhaps she finally felt safe enough to express herself without the overwhelming fear that she would lose her place in the relationship or that I would leave her for being angry. A platform was established for her to explore her early childhood family constellation which over time, led to the safe expression of her inner rage and a more peaceful settling within herself.