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Always ask when you don’t understand

Asking when you don’t understand benefits you and your clients. Pretending to understand can discourage disclosure and support poor decision making. When I began working with people with learning disabilities, I was told “don’t pretend that...

Check your client can read and write

Checking that your client can read & write assists both you and them. Attempting to use questionnaires, journals or bibliotherapy with someone hiding their illiteracy could end your intervention before it has begun. Literacy isn’t essential in therapy:...

Work with, not around, chaotic clients

Therapists can either work on, or work around, the chaos in client’s lives. Identifying clients, rather than their circumstances, as chaotic risks disempowering the client. “Chaotic” seems to be one of the mildest “unofficial diagnoses” a therapist can apply...

Use your casenotes as a Foley file

Making notes of information incidental to the case enhances interactions. The more personal details you retain, the more intimate the interaction and the greater the sense of personal attention. Compare & contrast the following: Last time you said you were going...

BPS Research Digest

A newsletter-cum-blog from the British Psychological Society. Summarising a dozen psychology journal articles each month in accessible prose, the Digest is a good light read and a useful pointer to the full articles. Unlike the American Psychological Association, the...

Setting homework has negative implications

Setting “homework” for clients implies that no relevant work would otherwise occur between sessions. When clients fail to do their homework but achieve positive change anyway, the focus may fall on the former rather than the latter. Physical therapies...

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). Therapists are people who want to help. People of equivalent qualifications in other fields are usually paid...

I have to breach confidentiality – part 1

Disclosures requiring that confidentiality be breached are rare. A little preparation should permit you to focus upon supporting your client through the process, preserving your therapeutic rapport. For UK therapists there are three occasions on which it is mandatory...

Give clients your full name and title

Introduce yourself with your full name and professional title. Clients can then decide how to address you as rapport builds, especially if you provide a reminder of your name (ie: a readable ID badge). One client called me “doc” for most of our first meeting,...

Claim your chair with your notepad

Use your notepad to claim your chair before the client enters the room. If you can sit where you need to be, there will be no unease to be misinterpreted by the client. A prison inmate advised me that I was sitting in the “wrong place”. I wasn’t sure what he...