Creating Collaborative Gratitude

Mar 08, 2017

““To do great work, a man must be very idle
as well as industrious.”

Samuel Butler

Creating Collaborative Gratitude

TISA Description of the Problem: In person-centered interviewing, the clinician is always trying to understand the needs and desires of the client, from the client’s perspective, working towards a collaborative assessment and treatment plan. Interestingly, one aspect of this collaboration can sometimes be lost in the shuffle as we will see below in the excellent clinical interviewing tip from Annie Sullivan, a participant in one of my workshops.

Tip: Sharing intimate material to a total stranger, as clients do in an initial interview is a difficult task, filled with moments of vulnerability. I always try to ensure that my clients experience this process as positive, safe, helpful and hopeful as we all do. In this regard, I believe that it is important that the client be reassured that it is a good thing that he or she has given away all this intimate information, much of which may have been very difficult to share. By openly acknowledging the client’s expertise on their own inner world, I can further empower clients, as well as reassure them, that they have made a wise choice in sharing intimate material with me. Towards this end, as the interview is closing, I will often say something along the lines as follows:

“I’d like to tell you that you have done a remarkable job of letting me know what you have been dealing with on your own. I am wowed by your courage. And because you have shared these things with me, I think we will really be able to find some ways to help you.”

TISA Follow-up: In this interviewing tip, Annie Sullivan illustrates a practical technique for creating what I like to call “mutual gratitude” between a clinician and a client. Consequently, I like to call this interviewing technique, “engendering mutual gratitude”. In true person-centered interviewing, this mutual respect for what each participant brings to the table can be quite refreshing for all involved.

Tip provided by:

Annie Sullivan

TISA is a site dedicated to advancing the science and art
Of preventing suicide and teaching clinical interviewing