Helping the Client Pinpoint Problematic Behaviors or Situations

Mar 06, 2017

“The kind of work we do does not make us holy, but we make it holy.”

Meister Eckhart
Medieval English Mystic

Helping the Client Pinpoint Problematic Behaviors or Situations

TISA Description of the Problem: Trying to help clients recognize and focus upon specific problematic behaviors and times can be difficult. Caryn Platt Tatelli, AM, LCSW, has developed a nice question that addresses this issue. Caryn also supplied an outstanding tip back in November of 2003.

Tip: When trying to focus a client on his or her role in the creation of specific problems or difficult situations (such as substance abuse or parenting problems) I find that the following question is often gentle and effective:

“If you could turn the clock back to any one point in time, what would you do differently?”

TISA Follow-up: This question is simple and sensitive. It is very different in tone from asking, “What did you do wrong?” for it is already allowing the client to distance from the behavior by allowing the client to take the lead in supplying some different approaches. Very nice!

Tip provided by:

Caryn Platt Tatelli, AM, LCSW
Forensic Social Worker, Illinois
caryn@tatelli.com