Sitting with my clients this week I have noticed that in my mind I am unpacking some of the questions I ask them in the consultation.
The consultation part of the session is illuminating, especially if the questions are direct, focused and lead to more questioning. For it is the questions and the introspection that are important.
There is an art to the consultation process. It is a space for clients to feel they can open up and unravel what is going on internally. When they speak and verbalise what is going on there is a conscious acknowledgement of thoughts, feelings and physical sensations. It means really taking notice of themselves.
If a client is in pain, I will often ask how it is affecting their life? They will know exactly what the impact is on their usual, daily way of functioning. For example, if is it a shoulder problem it may mean they can’t reach up to change a light bulb, towel dry themselves after a bath, lift a cup- that kind of thing. It is important for us to establish this because as the treatments progress over a period of weeks it gives a marker as to how much they are improving – people very quickly forget pain when it is gone.
I also ask them to describe this pain to me, this is where people often find they don’t have the vocabulary, so I might offer ‘stitching’, ‘tearing’, ‘dull’, ‘stabbing’, ‘sharp’, ‘throbbing’, ‘deep’, ‘moving’, ‘vulnerable’ etc. This will give me clues about how I will treat that area but more importantly it encourages the client to focus internally, have a deeper introspection than before.
As my skills have developed over years in practice I have been able to figure out which path to take as the questioning unfolds in any one session. Without experience, knowledge and insight the focus can easily be lost and the answers stop leading to more questions whilst also not giving useful information.
I will look at this subject more closely in my book, due out next year, but until then choose your words with thought, ask questions with consideration and enjoy the connections you make with the clients you see. Remember how privileged you are to be given such insight into people’s lives.