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February 20, 2018

String Along a Client

By Dr. Richard Boyum

There are occasions in which I find a client's attending behaviors lacking. Often times this is a function of what clients do not want to hear, but in reality, are ready to face. In these situations, using a three foot piece of yarn, I do the following:

Step 1: I ask the client's permission to hand them a piece of yarn in which they will take hold of one end and I will take hold of the other.

Step 2: I talk about this piece of yarn as providing both perfect distance and an opportunity for the client and the counselor to stay directly connected to each other on an important issue.

Step 3: On the end of each side of the string is a loop. One end of the loop is placed on the client's finger, the other is on my finger.

Step 4: I suggest to the client that we keep an appropriate level of tension on the line-not too loose,not too tight-but to such an extent that the line is kept straight.

Step 5: As the client begins to discuss their issue, and I begin to respond, either of us has the ability to "tug on the line." This is a way of making sure that each of us is aware of the importance of what the other is saying.

Step 6: Clients are encouraged not to put too much pressure on the line as this will cut off circulation. They are also encouraged not to pull too hard as this will literally "jerk your counselor around."

Step 7: When this particular part of the session is completed, the strings are removed and a more traditional format of dialogue is continued.

I have used this method effectively in counseling dating/married couples, friends, and roommates. In these cases, they connect with the string and I observe the process. See if it doesn't work in your sessions. If it does, "drop me a line."