Uncovering Client Fears in the First Few Minutes

Feb 13, 2017

“The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of profound truth may be another profound truth.”

Niels Bohr
20th Century physicist

Uncovering Client Fears in the First Few Minutes

TISA Description of the Problem: Many clients, who have never experienced counseling or therapy, have preconceptions, not all of them good, about what to expect from clinicians. This feeling of awkwardness, and sometimes out and out fear, may be worse with patients sent to us by others. No matter what the cause of this tension, if it is not addressed effectively, the interview may never get off the ground. Here are three questions by different TISA readers that address this roadblock.

Tip: The first tip is recommended for use with adolescents, that may feel as if they have been targeted as “the problem”:

Clinician: Before we talk about your depression, I’d like to go back and just find out more about you as a person, tell me a little about some of your interests.

Tip submitted by: Bonnie J. Ramsey, M.D.

The next two tips are nice examples of trying to uncover client concerns, so that they can be addressed, and hopefully transformed, early in the interview before they can undercut engagement. The first question achieves this goal with a direct approach and the second with an indirect approach.

Clinician: So, before we begin, do you have any questions or have any concerns about being here?

Tip submitted by: Jane Skolnick, LCSW

Clinician: Before we get started, I want to make sure that you feel comfortable. Perhaps a good place to start is what is your understanding of what the purpose of the interview is today and of what is actually going to happen?

Tip submitted by: Larry Gebstein

Result: All three of these tips can help clinicians to uncover client concerns. There is no single “right” way to do this uncovering. The important point is to always be thinking about it, and wondering what may be the best way with this unique individual. The above tips provide creative models that may act as springboards to new ideas.

TISA Follow-up:

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