It was a stressful moment. A young woman sat before me trying to tell me why she had come in, a matter of vital concern to me. I was a new intern at the counseling center and had to document each client’s presenting issue. In this case, though, I was stymied. After 30 minutes, I had absolutely nothing to write. This woman was clearly grappling with a need to maintain a secret. Every sentence was unintelligible, lacked a noun or verb, and relayed virtually no information. I was getting anxious wondering what my supervisor would think about a chart note that lacked the most basic information.
Fortunately, an intervention of Erickson’s came to mind. I interrupted the woman’s stream of words, which had been both continuous and halting at the same time. I said, “You know, there are probably 20 things you wouldn’t dream of telling me right now. Highly personal parts of your life story. Who could expect you to share these things?” Silently, she nodded. → Read more