Yet Another Response to the “I Don’t Know” Answer

Mar 13, 2017

“Music heard so deeply that it is not heard at all, but you are the music.”

T. S. Eliot

Yet Another Response to the “I Don’t Know” Answer

TISA Description of the Problem: It is not uncommon, especially with children and adolescents, to receive a disinterested, “I don’t know” to many questions. It can be quite frustrating. We have addressed various ways of transforming this communication impasse in previous interviewing Tips of the Month. Diana Boufford, BSW, RSW, offers a new twist for solving the dilemma.

Tip: When a client responds with “I don’t know” I often ask:

“If you did know what do you think it would be?”

TISA Follow-up: This tip has an almost curious paradoxical feel to it. I haven’t had a chance to try it out yet, but I bet it often works. In these situations, I find that one frequently must try a variety of different approaches before the impasse opens up, but with patience and skill, as evidenced in this excellent tip, it usually does.

Tip provided by:

Diana Boufford, BSW, RSW
Windsor, Ontario, Canada

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