“What am I doing wrong?” is one of the most common questions I hear from supervisees.
A better question to ask when clients are stuck other than “what am I doing wrong?” is to ask “what am I missing?”
“What am I doing wrong?” is a question driven by our inner critic and leads to punitive or fear driven solution finding to avoid feeling like a failure or worse.
“What am I missing?” allows us to approach the client’s stuckness with curiosity.
It doesn’t buy into the idea or fantasy that therapists should be all knowing.
It gives us permission to see that humans are complicated, like a jigsaw with shifting or hidden puzzle pieces.
These missing puzzle pieces will often be information about our client’s relational history, from their experiences with caregivers but also other key adults, systems and romantic relationships.
As I sift through some of my own puzzle pieces in therapy, I am reminded again how complicated the inner worlds of humans can be.
Some things take time, chance triggers or reminders to reveal themselves. Not all are instantly consciously available when a client enters therapy.
There is no failure, there is just missing puzzle pieces.
Choose curiosity over self-criticism.
As a therapist and as a human.
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