Asking Permission to Explore Sensitive Material

Mar 13, 2017

“What one seems to want in art, in experiencing it, is the same thing that is necessary for its creation, a self-forgetful, perfectly useless concentration.”

Elizabeth Bishop

Asking Permission to Explore Sensitive Material

TISA Description of the Problem: The topic of incest and domestic violence, in general, is a particularly difficult topic for clients to share especially during an initial interview. Serine Warnar, PhD provides a nice gateway for sensitive exploration.

Tip: When uncovering sexual abuse, I have found the following question to be useful:

“Would it be okay if I ask you a few questions about that?”

I have found this simple gesture of asking for permission to ask questions, regarding a particularly sensitive area, to be useful with many clients including those coping with borderline personality disorder, where it can be hard to read from their external nonverbal presentation whether they are comfortable or not with my proceeding.

TISA Follow-up: I find this tip to be quite useful for opening many doors regarding painful topics. Dr. Warnar’s tip manages to both show respect while yielding control to the client in a productive fashion.

Tip provided by:

Serine Warnar, PhD

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