On the last track, we discussed three examples in which changing words when speaking can increase self-awareness. These three instances were: changing "it" to "I", changing "can't" to "won't", and changing "have to" to "choose to".
On this track, we will discuss three Gestalt-type changes therapists and clients can make to their sentences to enhance self-awareness. These three changes are, changing passive voice to active voice, changing questions to statements, and asking "how" and "what" instead of "why".
3 Changes to Enhance Self-Awareness
Change #1 - Passive Voice vs. Active Voice
Remember Anita from Track 3? In a recent session, Anita stated, "My husband got really angry last night because dinner didn't get ready on time!" Noticed how Anita said, "dinner didn't get ready on time." Rather than, "I didn't get dinner ready on time."
To draw Anita's attention to her use of passive voice, I asked her to try the "Happened to Me" technique. The following five steps are outlined in the back of your Manual.
-- Step # 1 - To begin the Happened to Me technique, I asked Anita to make a list of all of her activities through the day up until our session.
Would using the Happened to Me technique help your Anita increase his or her awareness of the use of the passive words?
Change #2 - Questions to Statements
On one occasion, when we were discussing how Anita and her husband divided the care of the new baby, Anita asked, "Don't you think it would be fair if Mark got up for half of the night feedings?" I stated to Anita, "You may have given your own answer just now. Try changing that question into a statement, and let's see what you have to say." Anita then stated, "I think it would be fair if Mark got up for half the night feedings. I don't think I should have to do it all myself!"
Change #3 - 'How' and 'What' instead of 'Why'
As you recall, on Track 3 we discussed Anita's need for a friend she could talk to. Anita stated, "I know I should call one of the other mother's from daycare, to see if they'd like to do something. But every time I sit down and pick up the phone, I just… flake out on it." Rather than asking Anita why she was unable to make the calls, I stated, "How do you stop yourself from making these calls?"
As you can see, this statement acknowledges a problematic behavior, and focuses on facilitating Anita's awareness of the content and structure of the process of stopping herself from reaching out to other mothers. This statement shows respect for Anita's ability to become aware of her own motivations. Would you agree? Of course, by examining the "how" and "what" of Anita's behavior, we also uncover the "why" of the behavior by examining Anita's experience of being unable to make phone calls to other mothers.
Would sessions with your Anita be enhanced by focusing on asking "how" and "what" questions rather than "why" questions?
On this track, we have discussed three changes that can be made in sentences to enhance clients self-awareness. These three changes are, changing passive voice to active voice, changing questions to statements, and asking "how" and "what" instead of "why".
On the next track, we will discuss four ways in which a therapist can respond to a client's nonverbal behavior during Gestalt therapy. These four ways of responding are: indicating how the client's nonverbal behavior is congruent with what is being said; responding to discrepancies between verbal and nonverbal behavior; pointing out nonverbal behavior when the client is not speaking; and distracting or interrupting the client.
Online Continuing Education QUESTION 5