Wednesday, January 23, 2008

An Introduction to Client Process

Entry for 21 January 2008:

Monday of last week, Tracey and I managed to put together a nice session on client process for the Monday Part-time course: Tracey started them off with an exercise we adapted from the Change Interview, for them to reflect on their own change processes, either in the course or in their personal therapy. I’ve included the exercise at the end of this posting.

Next, we took them through Rogers’ Process Equation and the Client Experiencing scale. This is material that I have loved since I presented it in my introduction to therapeutic approaches course in graduate school; I’ve still got the handout I made for it in a folder somewhere. Late Rogers’ process-oriented work is really the taking off point for the whole experiential clan within the broader person-centred nation. From there, process differentiation emerged via the work of Gendlin, Rice, Greenberg (and in due course, my own work in PE-EFT). For me, then, this seems like a good foundation and a common ground not only for counsellors who are going to practice in either more traditional person-centred way and also for those who want to go on to PE-EFT.

We then connected this to Art Bohart’s formulations of the client as active change agent. For me, Art’s perspective is really a kind of Copernican revolution, involving one of those important perspective shifts similar to going from seeing the sun as orbiting the earth to seeing the earth (=therapist) as circling the sun (=client). It radically changes how one perceives and experiences therapy.

We finished the session by looking at the Rogers-Kathy video. I’d never seen it before (and only saw the first 7 minutes this time), but was startled to discover that, like the Gloria video (also produced by Shostrom), it featured a prominent alliance difficulty. In Gloria, the difficulty is of the confrontation type: the client demands that Rogers give her advice, and pursues him for this for much of the session. Kathy, on the other hand, discloses at a fairly deep level quite quickly, then, 5 minutes into the session, as she begins to tear up, realizes that she has gotten in over her head and really doesn’t want to go any further, leading to a withdrawal type of difficulty, characterized by a long silence. When I get a chance, it will be very interesting to see the rest of this video plays out.

Here is the exercise we developed:

Change Process Exercise (Elliott & Sanders, 2008)

1. In General: What has therapy/training been like for you so far? How has it felt to be in therapy/training?

2. Changes:
2a. What changes, if any, have you noticed in yourself since therapy/training started?
2b. What is your sense of how these changes have come about?
2c. What is your sense of what has made these changes possible?
2d. What has the impact of these changes been on your life?
2e. Has anything changed for the worse for you since therapy/training started?
2f. Is there anything that you wanted to change that hasn’t since since therapy/training started?

3. Resources:
3a. What personal strengths do you think have helped you make use of therapy/ training? (what you’re good at, personal qualities)
3b. What things in your current life situation have helped you make use of therapy/ training? (family, job, relationships, living arrangements)

4. Obstacles or Barriers:
4a. Is there anything about you that might have made it harder for you to use therapy/ training? (things about you as a person)
4b. Are there any things about your life situation that might have made it harder for you to use therapy/training? (family, job, relationships, living arrangements)

5. Other: Is there anything else that seems important to know about your experience of therapy/training?

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