Meeting a Client Where They are At
Sure I have an objective for my sessions, but it is my goal to find a meeting place for what I feel the body needs and what my client desires from the session. If I am too wrapped up in my own goals I can totally miss that my client may, for instance, want their lower back touched. This may be completely therapeutically irrelevant, but it is what they want. This is common with low back pain, often my treatment for this condition has little to do with working on the low back directly. But I’ve found that there is some benefit to consciously touching what hurts. Perhaps it soothes a person, maybe it’s just the placebo effect that gives them relief, or perhaps they just want to feel listened to. Whatever the reason, the client is asking for something and a direct response to that is healthy and beneficial regardless of their “structural need” for that work.
This same theory applies in conversations with my clients. We can talk about superfluous things and we can also talk about deep, unresolved issues. It doesn’t so much matter to me, as long as their body is responding well to my work. Once they begin to have an adverse reaction to the work by responding with pain, flinching or cutting off their breath I tend to then ask for them to breathe deeply and relax any tension held in their body. Some people just like to talk, but for others that rapport is an important part of them opening up and feeling safe with another person. Recognizing this is important and it’s a good avenue for connection to my client. The key is to stay neutral in the conversation, not expressing any hard and fast personal opinions and asking the client open ended questions. It is also important to bring the conversation back to their body and the work you are doing regularly. A part of this neutral stance that I speak of also means not artificially prolonging conversation, if a client seems disinterested or minimally responsive it may be time for me to quiet down.