Whether you’re a clinical psychologist or a university psychology student, in the future there might be a time when you’re sitting in a therapy room and there are certain things you might need to know about. But for the client, these things might be awkward to talk about. So in the great clinical psychology episode, you’re going to hear what some of these topics are and maybe how to help your clients talk about them.
This episode has been sponsored by Abnormal Psychology: The Causes and Treatments of Depression, Anxiety and More Third Edition. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback, large print and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstores and local library if you request it.
3 Awkward Things Clinical Psychologists Should Know About
Before I tell you about these three topics, I should note that it’s always a good idea to encourage clients to talk to you about weird or uncomfortable topics as this can help you both to deepen the therapeutic relationship. Which enhances and helps the therapy in other ways too.
Difficulties or Information They Haven’t Revealed
Firstly, we have to think about this topic in terms of your clients because we might have the information that they’re depressed with a troublesome school life. But they may suffer from anxiety too.
So the fact they’ve come to therapy in the first place is extremely stressful and courageous because of the stupid stigma around therapy and being ‘messed up’. (That’s such rubbish!)
But then to have another difficulty on top of that and having to tell a stranger. That’s even more terrifying.
This is made even worse if the client has been abused or suffered some sort of trauma that they’re never told anyone. But it’s a factor in their mental health difficulties.
Therefore, it’s critical that we help our clients to trust us and stress the importance of them telling us things. Because if they don’t tell us then we won’t be able to help them deal with their difficulties beyond the surface level stuff we already know.
Of course, we need to remember confidentiality because if they tell us something that means we’ll have to break confidentiality. For example, if there’s imminent danger to a person. Then we will have to break it but we need our clients to trust us and tell us things. Otherwise, the therapeutic process will be so much harder.
We Said Something Upsetting
This will happen to everyone at some point, I know from personal experience when I’ve said something as a joke and people have got horrifically offended in my personal life.
However, in terms of therapy, a clinical psychologist can make offhand comments or say things that upset our clients. It might be something that minimises what they went through, how far they’ve come or they’re just annoyed by it.
Normally and ideally, the client would tell you in the moment so a clinical psychologist knows not to say it again. But sometimes clients won’t and it will continue to annoy them.
The reasons why it’s important to tell the client to inform you when you’ve crossed a line or said something upsetting is for a few reasons. For example, it can help a therapist to know what not to say in the future as well as it gives them a deeper insight into the client’s emotional make up.
And it helps to create a deeper more empathetic relationship between the clinical psychologist and the client. Since honesty and open discussions can be considered what great therapy is made from.
Yet most importantly, it can advance the therapy because if the client gets offended by something in particular. It could reveal something they haven’t told you (or knew about) and it could reveal another difficulty they have.
For instance, if you said something about your mother and the client got annoyed by that. yet they kept insisting they were perfectly happy with the mother. Then the question is why were they offended by it?
Just something like that.
Clinical Psychologists Aren’t Understanding It
As I always say, something I love about psychology and learning is that there is always more to learn about human behaviour and other cultures.
Although, there are downsides to this too because everyone works in a different industry, a different job, has different names of different things and so on. All creates a problem in therapy because someone might be trying to explain a habit or difficulty of theirs and because
we use different vocabulary and different words mean different things. We might not understand it.
Such as let’s use a fictionalised example of me as an author working in the publishing industry (very niche I know!) and I was letting you about my anxiety of Audible and how it wasn’t paying authors properly because of #Audiblegate.
I can guess some of you would be able to get the general idea but a lot of you won’t. That’s fine. But as a client without going into the ins and outs of it I wouldn’t be able to explain it properly and you might say you understand it, but not.
It’s a terrible example I know.
Anyway, the reason why this is important is because this can make our clients feel like they’re not going valued or understood. Which is why it’s important to remind our clients to tell us these things so we know we aren’t correct and we can focus on making sure we understand what they’re talking about.
Overall, there are a lot of topics our clients might want to talk to us about but they feel awkward and bad for telling us. This is okay but for the sake of the therapy and therapeutic success, we need to encourage our clients to talk to us. And tell us these things so we can help them to the best of our abilities.
Because that’s what our clients deserve!
I really hope you enjoyed today’s clinical psychology podcast episode.
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