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Client motivation is the most powerful force in therapy.

So you wanna be a better therapists?: Part 10a

I used to work at a psych center.

Twice a day I'd usher in the patients, usually a small group of 5-10 people, and once the door clicked behind me I'd raise an eyebrow and wait.

Then, after the appropriate pregnant pause I'd ask, "who wants to make a change today?"

On one particular occasion a young man raised his hand.

"Great, " I said, and pulled a seat next to mine, in the center of the room, "have a seat. Why don't you tell us your name and what seems to be the problem. Why are you here"

"Well my name is Sam and I'm here because I was suicidal."

"Okay." I said, "And why where you suicidal?"

"I've had a lot of bad things happen to me. And when I think about those things I just get overwhelmed."

"Oh I see. Is it like a slide show of bad memories play over and over? And whenever you see those it kinda hurts?"


"So then suicide is your way out?"

"Yeah. Exactly."

"So why now Sam? Was there something that happened recently which triggered all of this? Like a final straw kind of thing?"

"Well, my girlfriend cheated on me."

"Oh sorry to hear that. That's got to hurt." I said. Sam began to tear up. "Okay, well let me ask you. Say I had a magic button. And if you pushed this magic button, poof, all of your suicidal thoughts would just disappear, would you push the button?"

Sam got real quiet and thought about it for a minute.