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Are You Using the Full Potential of Perspective Taking in Your Clinical Work?

architecture-1868547Perspective taking shift is one of the most powerful tools you can use to help your clients gain awareness and transform the meaning of critical experiences. Many psychotherapy models explicitly include perspective-taking moves, but the way these interventions look like can vary. For example, in Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT), we might encourage a client to develop compassion toward herself by imagining what a kind friend who say to her. In Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), we might invite a client to go back to a meaningful memory in order to reconnect with values or to project herself in the future to identifying valued actions. In Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), clients are often encouraged to take the perspective of their wise minds so as to gain self-efficacy. In Emotion Focused Therapy (EFT) and Gestalt Therapy, we might invite a client to engage in a dialogue between different selves, sometimes using chairs, to discover new information. Read more…


How to Use Clients’ Own Metaphors?

downloadThere are different ways of using metaphors in a clinical context. One typical approach is to choose metaphors that fit what clients are struggling with, in order to help them look at their experiences from a different perspective. For example, looking at attempts to suppress thoughts, emotions, or sensations as a struggle in quicksand can help a client notice counter productive effects of experiential avoidance. It’s also possible to craft new metaphors by using principles of relational frame theory (RFT) or to notice metaphors that clients naturally use, and induce behavior change inside this context. Read more…


Why (Not Ask) Why?

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If you’ve been trained in mindfulness-acceptance or 3rd wave therapies like acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), you may have heard at some point that asking “why” to your clients is not a good therapeutic move. Ever bitten your tongue when catching yourself saying these three letters in session, or apologized to your supervisor while showing your tapes (“I know, I’m not supposed to ask why!”)? If that sounds familiar, I’d like to offer a perspective that you will probably find more flexible. Read more…


4 Contextual Behavioral Principles to Do Effective Cognitive Change

UntitledCognitive change techniques are often considered incompatible with mindfulness and acceptance based therapies. In these approaches, clients are encouraged to distance themselves from sticky thoughts rather than changing their form and content. While there is no doubt that therapeutic techniques employed in mindfulness and acceptance approaches are different than traditional cognitive therapy techniques, it is worth looking more closely at what therapists do to promote distancing from thoughts. When therapists invite clients to look at their thoughts as if they were clouds in the sky, or to mentally step back from these thoughts, are they not encouraging clients to think differently about their thoughts, after all?

Relational frame theory (RFT) is a contextual behavioral approach to language and cognition that allows therapists to integrate cognitive change strategies into mindfulness and acceptance based approaches. From an RFT perspective, there are 4 main principles to follow in order to help clients change their way of thinking, while avoiding the pitfalls of traditional cognitive change techniques (e.g. paradoxical effects of thought suppression, fruitless debates about reality, pathologizing certain thoughts and their thinkers). Here are these 4 principles. Read more…


“What if…?” Use the Power of Imagination to Help Your Clients Get Unstuck

bubble-19329People who seek help from counseling, psychotherapy, or coaching often report feeling stuck. Sometimes, they don’t understand their own feelings and thoughts. Often, they don’t know what to do to be happier. Or they know what to do, but they feel unable to do it. In all cases, what they want is find a new path toward a more enjoyable and meaningful life. For this reason, regardless of the specific issues clients are dealing with, a significant amount of therapeutic work must focus on opening doors to greater awareness, flexibility, and connection with meaningful purposes.

One of the most powerful ways of helping clients get unstuck through natural conversations is to use “What if” questions, or what we call conditional framing in relational frame theory. These kinds of questions invite clients to explore alternative realities in which insightful experiences are contacted, and new responses to the current reality are revealed. Here are 3 examples of conditional questions that can shed a new light on your clients difficulties and make effective actions more available. Read more…


3 Ways of Making Your Clinical Conversation More Experiential

woman-1030920Experiential therapies emphasize the use of techniques helping clients contact and observe their own experiences over the use rules, didactics, and psycho-education. In other words, instead of telling clients what to do (even if it is good advice) experiential therapists prefer shaping the overarching skill of observing and drawing useful conclusions. This way, clients become more autonomous and flexible in dealing with psychological issues. Not giving clients rules doesn’t mean not talking, though. Here are 3 ways of making your clinical conversation more experiential. Read more…


3 Ways of Using Perspective Taking in Therapy

two-315913_1280Perspective taking, which relies on deictic framing, is one of the most powerful ways of using language in therapy. When we adopt a different point of view, we can see things differently and also notice new things. For this reason, perceptive taking can help increase clients’ awareness of key elements of their experience. It can also help them become more curious and open to new ways of approaching a given issue. We can invite clients to shift perspective along three dimensions: interpersonal (e.g. “If what happened to you had happened to your best friend, what would you advise her to do?”), spatial (e.g. “If you were sitting there, what would you see?”) and temporal (e.g. “Two weeks from now, looking back at what you have done during this time, what would you like to have accomplished?”). Here are three examples of using perspective taking in therapy that you can apply in different areas of your clinical work. Read more…


 

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