Set limits on diaries & records

Set clear limits on diary-keeping and other journals. By asking for the minimum amount of information necessary, you increase the chances of obtaining reliable data.

Have stuck clients keep a prospective diary

Ask clients stuck awaiting change to keep a prospective diary. An explicit account of life after the hoped-for change can help clients unstick themselves and start changing now.

Leave deduction to Sherlock Holmes

Deductions impress clients, but incorrect deductions can be disastrous. Deductive reasoning has its place in therapy, but only as a means of generating hypotheses on which you can work with clients.

Think before you act for your client

Stop and think before you take action on behalf of your client. You may be depriving them of the opportunity to help themselves (with appropriate support).

Leave contracts out of the first session

Many therapists set explicit goals and use treatment contracts with their clients. Goal setting provides a focus for therapy: contracts indicate that both parties have agreed to the terms of the therapy (or should: the contract you use does bind the therapist as well as the client, doesn’t it?)

Know your client’s strengths

If you don’t know your client’s strengths, how can you capitalise upon them? Client factors account for 40% of the variance in outcomes and a wise therapist will play to their client’s strengths.

Closed questions can be supportive for clients

Judicious use of open & closed questions can empower clients. Restricting the range of responses when some are inappropriate or unavailable demands more of the therapist, but can be more supportive for the client.

What is your one aim for any session?

Having too many goals can be as bad as having no goals. This is as true for therapists as for our clients, yet therapists may enter into a session with far too many goals to achieve in one sitting.