This article is dedicated to all of you who would like to make a personal transformation. I would like to show you what the situation looks like from the other side, the side of the psychotherapist and how a personal transformation should really be carried out, since there are a lot of counsellors and therapists available, however the important thing being, they also lead you to success.
The effects of personal counselling are difficult to measure, since we are talking about feelings. The clients expect miracles from us even after the first meeting. They are convinced we have some sort of a ‘magic wand’. But it does not work like that. Due to this, many clients feel disappointed after the first therapy, because their expectations are too high. The most important part when starting work with new clients is to explain to them at the very beginning how the process of counselling is carried out and what they can expect from it. We must be clear in explaining that we cannot do the work instead of them, that they have to do everything by themselves, we only guide them and help them see the parts ‘invisible’ to them.
The work done by the therapist is most successful when the bond of trust is created with the client, this is when the therapist can unconditionally lead the client to the determined goal. If the situation is reversed, if the client resists, looks for excuses then the therapies only remain on the level of conversations, which is the greatest fear of all therapists.
STEP 1: INTRODUCTION – defining the problem, setting the goal – understanding the problem
The clients often come with great expectations, convinced that already one meeting and one conversation with the therapist will solve the problem, however most often this only leads to disappointment. It is very important to clearly communicate at the very start all the details of how our work is done and what results can be expected. And most importantly, every client must be aware that the success of the therapy lies in his/her hands.
We must conclude an agreement of cooperation and determine the price of the services. The agreement must contain the following items:
- Regardless of the fact how bad things may be for me, I will do nothing to endanger my life or will allow anything or anyone to endanger my life.
- Regardless of the fact how bad things may be for me, I will not carry out any acts of violence toward other people.
- Regardless of the fact how bad things may be for me, I will strive to stay in sound mind and judgement and will not endanger my psychological health.
- If the agreement is violated, the counselling is terminated or a new agreement is to be reached.
The clients usually get scared of these items and start asking questions about them. But it is only in this way that they start being aware of their presence and the seriousness of the work carried out by the therapist. The last item (d) is especially important, since if the client terminates the process and then wishes to continue counselling, the process must start from the beginning. Only after the client has signed the agreement, the work can begin. The first step is to establish why the client has decided to visit us and what he/she thinks the problem at hand is.
During the introductory meeting, the therapist must be attentive to the entire communication coming from the client (speech, manner of speech, body language, … all ways of communicating). The therapist in this way gathers the starting points for carrying out the therapy and will be serving as the guiding lines for further work and later on also for the assessment of progress made:
- What does the client think his/her problem is? – writes it down on the basis of his/her testimonial.
- What does the client suppose his/her problem is? – writes down own predictions.
- What are client’s expectations? – writes down on the basis of clear statement.
- What is the base position (role) of the client? – writes it down once he/she recognises the role the client is playing, that is, determines what kind of position he/she is coming from. In case within your modality there is no role playing or positions, try to imagine what the client is reminding you of, from your life perspective. Once you let yourself be yourself, a very clear answer comes to you.
Psychological disorder? – we assess the psychological disorder the client has (paranoia, …) and this makes our evaluation of the client’s problem and convictions easier.
The next phase is setting the criterion for measuring the difficulty of the problem. The client and the therapist must find a common standard for measuring the level of difficulty (e.g. 1-10) as this will serve to establish in which phase of solving the problem they currently are and how present the problem at certain period of time is.
The client visualizes the sea and its waves. Then he/she estimates how high the waves are according to his/her problem and the highest waves are marked with level 10. If the problem arises in different environments and with a different intensity, the client can start comparing it. Is it maybe half smaller? The client also tries to envision the feelings he/she had when the problem was at level 1 and he/she felt great. At level 1 the sea level of the client is completely calm.
In this way the client and the therapist have a criterion which is checked upon each therapy session. Introduction part usually lasts through two or three sessions. Therefore, it is important for the client and the therapist to make an agreement at the very beginning for eight sessions which should take place one week apart minimum, but not more than two weeks, because only in this way the entire process can be fully completed.
STEP 2: ESTABLISING TRUST
After gathering the information from the client, we are equipped for work, which does not mean success is guaranteed. When we are researching the client’s past, we are looking for reasons and setting up our relationship with the client. Having established a relationship, we are starting to build the trust. Only after the client unconditionally trusts the therapist, he/she can follow the therapist without doubts, without interruptions of the process and resistance. It is of high importance at this point to follow the ethic codex of psychotherapists (already pointed out in step 1) and to discuss and work on the importance of mutual responsibility. As a starting point we can use Choice Theory.
This is actually the most difficult part of the therapist’s work. We must keep in mind that the client who comes to us trusts us unconditionally, since our title is psychotherapist, someone who can be told anything and who is trustworthy. However, already after the first visit, certain doubts come out and numerous questions are raised and the level of trust drops; already at the very next meeting we start building the trust again.
STEPS 1 and 2:
The first and the second step are forming the base, preparing for the actual problem-solving action. In these phases the client does not feel major changes, mostly he/she feels the ‘easing of the pain’, but quite often the client also falls back into the state he/she was when he first came to us. This does not mean that we are already carrying out the therapy, however if we panic that there have been no changes, we are making the same mistake. It is important we believe in our work and continue to follow the outlined plan. Most of all we need to be patient. This process is a completely normal one, similar to the one you can see in the nature. Everything takes its own time. The work I have done so far has shown that the introduction part, i.e. stablishing of the trust period takes up to 1/3 of time of the entire therapy time. When leading a project, this is the same, we need to be well-prepared, so that the execution can go smoothly. If I put it a bit roughly, if you build a house, you need to prepare well, from project to building permit and execution of all plans – if you do not do that, then something will always be missing and nothing will really be completed – the same goes for therapy, unless you prepare well, you shall come to a certain level with the client, but whether you shall be able to eliminate the problem is questionable. At the end of the therapy there should be a ‘quantum leap’ made, so that the client never goes back to the primary state, i.e. to the same problem or to an even worse one.
STEP 3: THERAPY
Execution of therapy is carried out by the use of the modality method or approach, which is known to us and has been made familiar to us during our psychotherapy studies together with other tools. The process will give us the sense of ‘victory’ every time, since the results shall be visible after each session, however, the sense of triumph must not mislead us, we must still be in charge of the process. We must not finish the process at this stage! We must not forget about our assessment levels (STEP 1).
STEP 4: ESTABLISHING THE RESULTS OF THE THERAPY
When the client tells us that he/she feels as reborn, this means that we are actually coming to the conclusion of our work process and we can see the results of our work. Thus, in the following sessions we are mostly checking and measuring the client’s responses to various situations, his/her reactions to very specific situations (before/after), to certain people and circumstances. Most of all we are establishing the level of fear present in the client. We must not finish the process at this stage! We must not forget about our assessment levels!
STEP 5: CONCLUSIONS
The last step can also be called ‘exhaling’ or light run at the end of the training, usually practiced by the sports people. The intensity of the conversation is minimal, it is mostly a conversation about every day topics. Steps 4 and 5 must be of the same length as introduction, which means 1/3 of the entire process. It is important to finish off the process slowly and gradually, just as we have started it. We say that the solution of the problem has crawled under the client’s skin. We are going to slowly get the feeling that we are being less productive and that sessions could be free. But no, we have invested a lot of energy into the initial meetings, which means that the input is being levelled out and it is important to stay focused and present to the last minute.
If you compare the intensity of your therapies, you shall notice that they are probably running in the same cycles, however since we are all working by our feeling most of the time, this way of running sessions takes up a lot of energy and mostly time to organise.
The diagram attached is a starting point or some sort of a map which is used by the client and the therapist to draw their phases of process onto it. On the vertical line there are time lines – each line is one session. On the horizontal line are the levels determined by the client and the therapist at the beginning (level 10 at the bottom and level 1 at the top).
The meetings must be divided into equal time intervals, so that they can be split into thirds.
After each meeting they draw at which level of solving the problem they are, i.e. how much work is yet to be done. And they do this after every session. It is of course not necessary to follow the diagram precisely; however, it is important to at least follow the levels of progress and make note how far from the average they are.
All the phases are repeated also at one-hour meetings. Each meeting must have the same phases, only in this way we can lead the conversation / counselling / therapy to a successful conclusion.
* dr. Milan Krajnc is a life coach and crisis captain with a specialty of psychological insight who helps business and company groups unfold the Gordian knot of dead-end streets and leads them to the path of their new success. He is the author of more than 200 scientific and professional articles and 110 other books from various fields. The diversity of his life experience helps him transform all the crushed stories into success stories. (www.milankrajnc.com)