A Gentle Way to Help Clients Share Problematic Behaviors

Mar 08, 2017

“Intellectuals solve problems. Geniuses
prevent them.”

Albert Einstein
(a special thanks to Jon Lieberman,
who has provided me with several
excellent quotations — Shawn)

A Gentle Way to Help Clients Share Problematic Behaviors

TISA Description of the Problem: Over the years we have looked at various clinical interviewing techniques for helping patients to share difficult material. I am always fascinated at the variety of useful approaches. Here is another simple, yet quite effective, technique. It was passed to me during one of my workshops, unfortunately without an identifying name. If you happen to be the person who submitted the tip, please let me know. It’s a nice one.

Tip: I find the following useful for uncovering sensitive information.

“Have you ever found yourself acting against your better judgment?”

TISA Follow-up: One of the qualities of this interviewing tip that I like is that it addresses, particularly well, areas in which a client may feel shame or guilt, by cleverly allowing the client to ally against the behavior, almost as if it were outside of them, separated by both time and a new personal perspective. I find that this interviewing technique can sometimes uncover some surprising material when gently utilized while exploring the client’s social history. It can also be adapted for use when the clinician thinks that the client may be overly-protective of a loved one as with, “Do you think it’s possible that your son’s anger sometimes leads him to do things against his better judgment?”

Tip provided by:


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Of preventing suicide and teaching clinical interviewing