Where Should We Put the Clock?

Mar 01, 2017

“To write prescriptions is easy, but to come to an understanding with people is hard.”

Franz Kafka
from “The Country Doctor

Where Should We Put the Clock?

TISA Description of the Problem: Our interviews are immediately impacted by the surroundings in which we undertake them. Naturally, we are bounded by the time constraints of our clinical settings, so being able to track the time, as we proceed, is an important part of the interview process. The question then arises as to where we should place our clocks. Generally, I have often placed the clock somewhere on the wall behind the client so that I can follow the time without distracting the client. Below are two alternative suggestions, from different clinicians, each of which has its own excellent merits.

Tip: In addition to a clock somewhere behind the client, I find it useful to have a second clock easily observable by the client. Such a placement, especially in ongoing therapy, helps in the “training of the patient” to also partake with the therapist in the pacing of the session.

Tip 2: A single shared clock, that is easily observable by both the client and the patient, can be an asset in helping both the client and the therapist to share the experience of managing time in the session. The shared clock also relieves the client of the necessity of checking his or her wristwatch. By noting the clinician’s glances at the clock, the client will be aware of the time constraints so that he or she does not misperceive that the clinician is ending the session to “get away from the client” as opposed to simply following the limits of the clinical hour.

TISA Follow-up: Both of the above tips incorporate the courteous idea of having a clock easily viewable for the client. They also provide the client, who may not own a wristwatch, an important aid for following the passage of time during the session.

Tip 1 provided by:

Kerri McGuire
Ottawa, Ontario,

Tip 2 provided by:

Carolyn Brown
G.P. Counselor
Saudi Arabia