Quick Summary: A good technique to put in place as a practicing psychotherapist is to regularly ask your clients for feedback and to offer suggested alternatives to what you are offering. the ability of the therapist to adapt to the client’s unique needs is a good predicator of successful therapy outcomes.
Ask the client(s) whether or not they have been in therapy before and have them give general feedback on the process of therapy.
- Some like directive therapists, some don’t… some like role plays, and some will leave if you ask them to role play… you can get a lot of information as to what they are looking for from this simple question.
Example question: what did your past therapist do that your found helpful that you would like to see again in our therapy sessions?
- reflect there answer back to ensure that your understood their intended meaning.
example question 2: what did your past therapist do that you was not helpful that you would like to avoid in our therapy sessions together?
Say what you are doing in therapy and give an explanation as to how that is going to help your clients to meet their stated goals… then ask them for feedback on the process.
Example Question and Description: “I have been fostering an environment for you both to talk openly about your feeling related to the affair. In the process I am mediating your interactions to help you to avoid disruptive communication processes such as defensiveness and withdrawal behaviors. My goal is to create a safe environment for you to be both emotionally expressive and emotionally available. Emotionally honest expressing is a great first step towards rekindling intimacy and feelings of trust and security, which were your goals. Is this working for you? Is there something that could be changed that would feel more helpful?
Some clients are very therapy savvy and they do not need an explanation about the therapy process… asking them for feedback is sufficient for some people.
Example question: How is therapy going for you? Is there anything that your would like to change about the process?
Name the elephant in the room and ask them how they would best like to accommodate the variable.
- It is often the therapist’s job to bring up an issue that may be uncomfortable for the client to bring up.
Example question: I am aware that I am a male therapist offering couples counseling and therefore you are the only female in this room… how can I make sure that you don’t feel as though there is a gender bias? Or… what would you like me to look out for so that you will feel equally accommodated in therapy?
The ‘Stop, Start and Continue’ consultation technique.
Example question: In relation meeting your therapy needs, what is important that I start doing, what is important that I stop doing, and what is important that I continue doing. In other words is there a process or technique that you would rather not engage in anymore or are there any processes or techniques that you would like to see more of?
Sometimes I point to the research to help motivate people to collaborate in their therapy process by offering feedback… I briefly state that the ability of the therapist to adapt to the client’s unique needs is a good predicator of successful therapy outcomes.
What do you do? How do you ask for feedback?
Would you feel comfortable giving your therapist honest feedback?
What can therapists do to make clients feel most safe in giving honest constructive feedback?
Do you feel as though you have the right to tell your therapist to change what he/she is doing?