Authentic Silence of Therapy

In Honor of Silence. Why hitting the mute button in your… | by John Hoyer |  iExhale | Medium

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.
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2 Responses to Authentic Silence of Therapy

  1. Active listening is the key. I once had a client who, when we were finishing, said that for two years she had done nothing but cry and I said nothing. Had I not done so she would never have come back. She was, of course, exaggerating, but her comment made your point.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. msw blog says:

    Active listening is the key. I long ago learned a therapist role, for instance, is not to solve a person’s problem. Its to listen and understand. To continue to interrupt inadvertently minimize a person’s feeling and dismiss rather than validate their pain.

    Like

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