The other day a client smiled at me and said, “You are such a Jedi mind trick!” I laughed because we had spent 50 minutes in near silence. Well, I did. I am comfortable with silence in and out of my therapeutic sessions. I often inform my clients “I’m comfortable being with you quietly like this, but I am wondering how its feeling for you?” In this instance my only thought was I wanted to give my client the message that I cared about how they were feeling. I was not punishing or judging them, nor was I angry at them for remaining silent. The client and I sat in silence for a while, then they began to speak. First, they spoke about superficial things, and then really started to talk about the core of their issue. I sat actively listening, rarely interjecting with insight or a question of my own. I wanted them to hold that feeling and know that it was okay to retreat into silence to process their own thoughts… this is therapy.
Other ways I have phrased the silent question are:
- Take some time, I am here to listen to you when you’re ready.
- Whatever you are feeling is okay to talk about here.
- Perhaps it’s hard to put into words how your feeling.
- You’re looking incredibly sad to me, and I wonder if that is how you’re feeling?
- Sometimes people feel like being silent and that is okay. We can be silent together.