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February 20, 2018

The Bottom Line

By Dr. Richard Boyum

As counselors, one of the goals we have with clients is to get them to be honest to and with themselves. We use a variety of techniques to encourage this kind of thought process and behavior. In intelligent clients who have developed to the level of abstract thought, there are often many competing types of thinking that can affect the ability for people to be honest with themselves. The following technique can be helpful in getting clients to discover their truths on a variety of topics and ideas. Explain to a client that the phrase "THE BOTTOM LINE" is about absolute truths. Suggest to the client that new information, material, ideas and insights can alter that truth. Further, suggest to a client that one of the goals of human experience is to be honest with oneself. Suggest to the client that, regarding a particular issue (and/or in searching for a series of general truths), that the client begin each sentence with "THE BOTTOM LINE IS... I am unhappy with my career choice because…THE BOTTOM LINE IS…I am not doing what I really want…THE BOTTOM LINE IS…I am afraid to make a change because I feel I will upset my parents."

Counselors can use THE BOTTOM LINE exercise as a form of free association and/or to focus on a specific topic. THE BOTTOM LINE exercise can give a counselor great insight with either verbal clients or clients who are willing to participate in this exercise who have been on a stuck-point. This is an activity in addition to being used in and during a counseling session can be given as an on-going homework exercise in which the client can report back to the counselor what they discovered. THE BOTTOM LINE can be used both in verbal form and as a written exercise as part of a journaling technique.

As counselors, this exercise can prove very beneficial in initial practice with ourselves. See if you discover what some of your BOTTOM LINES are.