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What I Learned from the World's Greatest Therapy Consultant, Alex Vaz (Experiencing Scale Series, part 4)

Updated: May 1

1/4 I got weekly coaching from Alex Vaz. Here's what I learned on 02/03/23.

Long term readers of this blog will know that for about a year I got regular coaching with Alex Vaz.

Alex Vaz head shot

Who is Alex Vaz?


Dr. Alex Vaz is the co-author of literally dozens of books on deliberate practice, has written academic papers on therapeutic change, has trained with the best trainers in half a dozen different models, is now the Director of Training at Sentio, ran a popular YouTube series interviewing therapy experts, and at one point had some of the highest clinical outcomes of any therapist on record.


I generally think of him as the world's greatest therapy coach.

One of the most important things he taught me was called the experiencing scale.


It was so important, that I wanted to share it with you as well.

 

Hello friends :) If you want to join me and other readers in exploring the world of counseling sign up for my newsletter.

 

2/4 Why the experiencing scale is important.

The experiencing scale is based on the idea that the more internal, present, and specific clients are, the more likely they are to experience change in therapy.

The opposite is also true. The more a client speaks about things which are external, past, or vague, the less likely they are to experience change.


Therefore researchers created the experiencing scale. This scale categorized clients statements on a 1-7 scale.


Experiencing scale

For me, learning the experiencing scale (not that I've mastered it) helped me understand why sometimes clients would come in and talk about their trauma and it would seem super productive, and other times it just felt like they were merely complaining.


The difference was all about what level the client was speaking from. Some were speaking from a high level, say a 2 or 3 and others were talking from a 4 or 5.


Personally this also made a big difference in the energy of the session. Once I knew the difference in the different levels, I understood why some sessions felt dynamic and others seemed to drag on and on and on.


3/4 Test your experiencing scale skills.

But, you can't really learn that much simply by learning about the experiencing scale. It's something you have to see for yourself.

So here's a small test. Watch the below video and you answer what level is this client speaking from?


Ready?


Let's go!


Watch this clip. 👇👇👇


Rank the client on the experience scale.👇👇👇 

* Make sure to click "See All Options"*


Ask your question

  • She's a 1!

  • She's a 2!

  • She's a 3!

  • She's a 4!


Now watch this clip for the big reveal 👇👇👇



Did you get the same answer I did? Let's hear more explanation.



This is a BIG point.


When you're coding tape, no matter what coding system you're using, you're not just listening to the words. You're also listening to the intent and meaning behind the words.


The key question here is, "is this client interested in exploring her inner world?"

Contrast her with this guy.



They both aren't saying much. But the intent, the underlying message in the two tapes are vastly different.


One is unaware of their inner world, but is trying to figure it out. Another is merely answering the therapist's questions.


4/4 The experiencing scale gives me a way forward.

The rule of thumb is "more experiencing, more change." That's the big lesson to take away from the experiencing scale.


I think this is very important because a lot of therapists feel they aren't as effective as they want to be. Some of us believe that talking to a client and letting them vent is productive. But some of us really feel like we're talking in circles with clients and we don't know how to get out of it.


For me, the experiencing scale gives us a way out. It shows us a way forward.


I guess, in some ways, it's been a light to my practice. I hope it's the same for yours.


Best,


Jordan (the counselor)


-Fin-

 

If you liked this post, consider reading this next. I think you'll like it ;) It's about the experiencing scale.

 

Jordan Harris, Ph.D., LMFT-S, LPC-S, received his Doctor of Philosophy in Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of Louisiana Monroe. He is a licensed professional counselor and a licensed marriage and family therapist in the state of Arkansas, USA. In his clinical work, he enjoys working with couples. He also runs a blog on deliberate practice for therapists and counselors at Jordanthecounselor.com.

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