Looking for a Teacher

Mar 07, 2017

“There is no reality except the one contained within us. That is why so many people live such an unreal life. They take the images outside them for reality and never allow the world within to assert itself.”

Herman Hesse
from “Demian”

Looking for a Teacher

TISA Description of the Problem: When I was presenting in Cape Cod a few years ago, one of my workshop participants gave me a series of tips. Unfortunately, I cannot locate his or her name. If you happen to be the provider of these tips, I’d love to hear from you and give you credit. But the tips are so good, I’d like to pass them on now. Both tips nicely illustrate how we can sometimes open up reluctant clients on difficult topics by essentially asking them to “teach us.”

Tip: I find that by using words in my questions such as, “Can you help me . . .?” or “Would you be able to teach me more about . . . ?” that I often find reluctant clients more eager to provide information. Here are two examples that I find useful:

1) “Can you help me figure out what makes your family tick?”

2) “Would you be able to teach me more about your occupation/avocation?”

TISA Follow-up: The preceding tips are simple in design but elegant in implementation. This strategy of “looking for a teacher” can be generalized to any number of situations. It can even be of use in de-escalating a moment in which a client has been inadvertently angered by a clinician’s statement as with, “Help me to understand better what I just did that was so upsetting. I want to make sure I don’t do it again.”

Tip provided by:

Anonymous Cape Cod workshop participant

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