Speaking more slowly can improve communication between therapist and client. Slow speech is more comprehensible and more considered.
Anxiety is characterised by rapid speech. Therapists, especially trainees, may be anxious in sessions, but may also feel the need to speak more quickly in order to pack more into the time available. This can backfire by making the therapist seem anxious.
Following rapid speech demands greater attention. When listening, we are attempting to make sense of what is being said. The more time we have to consider what is being said, the more likely we are to understand what we are hearing.
Clients are by definition functioning less than optimally. Anxiety, depression, pain, fatigue and medication effects can impair concentration and therefore affect clientsâ€™ ability to follow and make sense of what we are saying.
Clientsâ€™ comprehension can be improved by speaking slowly and clearly. In general, most people can stand to half the speed of ther speech without sounding patronising. On the contrary, a measured delivery bespeaks confidence and expertise.
Slowing your speech gives you more time to think about what youâ€™re saying. We usually speak at the rate thoughts enter our mind. By slowing our delivery, we can check over what weâ€™re about to say and, potentially, prevent stumbles, contradictions and errors.
Thinking through what youâ€™re about to say minimises the need for retractions and corrections, giving you the time to speak more slowly. For experienced therapists, the main pressure to speak quickly is the need to pack as much material as possible into every session. By ensuring that what you do say is clear and comprehensible, you can cover the same ground in the same time without rushing.