ways to utilize the beliefs.

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Chapter 7 Utilize What The Client Gives You Short, Erickson and Klein explain, “Utilization comes from a willingness to recognize and use the patient’s behavioral, emotional, and intellectual predispositions as a fundamental treatment component” (2005, p. 187). Rather than focusing on the deficiencies of the client, focus on the strengths. Rather than focusing on the negatives of how the client is functioning, focus on the positives or on how the negatives can be used as positives. Cooperating with clients is far more productive than trying to change them. The following story shows how I used what one client already believed to be true rather than trying to change his belief. Undeserving of Good Things During his senior year of high school, Don began suffering from what was diagnosed as depression. After being hospitalized and treated with medication, he improved and eventually

stopped taking the medication. He had been fine for several years and then, about a year and half before seeing me, he began suffering from depression again. He had recently graduated from college and was about to begin a very good job. His fear of ruining a good thing motivated him to see me. He reported that he felt undeserving of good things; when good things happened, he found a way to sabotage them. I saw Don four times over a two-month period. As we talked, I realized that there was no way I could convince Don that he deserved good things, so I accepted his idea that he did not deserve good things. Utilizing Don’s belief that he did not deserve good things, how would you have helped Don resolve his depression? Write your thoughts before reading further. I began to talk with him about the possibility of being grateful for good things, even though he did not deserve them, and to accept them and make the best of them. We created a mantra that he would repeat throughout the day: “I am grateful for what I have and will make the best of it, even though I don’t deserve it.” Over the course of these two months, I saw a difference in Don. He also noticed positive changes, and his wife told him that he seemed happier and more optimistic. In our last session, Don commented at how easy this problem had been to resolve. He was amazed at how two months ago he had been depressed, yet now he was happy and energetic, all without medication. Don’s experience demonstrates that you need to utilize what the client gives. Rather than try to change Don’s mind about deserving good things, I found a way to agree with him but to use it to help him resolve his issue. We could have spent many sessions trying to find the source of his feelings, probably to no avail. Even if we had been able to figure this out, I’m uncertain it would have been of any help. He still would have felt undeserving and still would have sabotaged the good things in his life. (To learn about utilization, refer to Short, Erickson and Klein, 2005, and/or Geary and Zeig, 2001.) Don also shows that the resolution may be unrelated to the problem. If we had dealt directly with Don’s depression, we may have been unsuccessful, but when we focused on the issue of his undeserving anything good, the depression took care of itself. In the following case I utilized the dominant modality of the client to help her cure her phobia. I also suggested that she utilize a resource that she had – her high school band members. Most people think predominantly in the visual or auditory modality. Some think predominantly in the kinesthetic modality, and very few think predominantly with their sense of taste or smell. For a visual person, seeing realistic success in a detailed mental video can be a powerful motivator and confidence builder. For an auditory person, hearing realistic success in a detailed mental auditory tape can be a powerful motivator and confidence builder. The following story illustrates how Helen overcame her anxiety by creating a mental video/audio. Fear of Performing Helen was required to sing in front of her voice class, and she had been unable to accomplish this, due to performance anxiety. When Helen came to see me, she was despondent, convinced that she would never be able to accomplish this requirement. In describing what happened when she experienced the performance anxiety, she mentioned that she saw herself in the 11th grade when she had to give a speech in class and some of her classmates made fun of her. She also mentioned that she was in the band in high school and always felt confident and accepted by her band friends. I suggested that we create a very specific, step-by-step mental

video/audio of her singing successfully in front of the class with her high school band members around her providing her support. Think about how you would assist the client in creating this detailed video/audio. The point is that you want to make it as specific and as realistic as possible. Write your thoughts. The first time she visualized performing in front of the class, Helen stopped when she was about to visualize singing because she was so anxious. I asked her do it again but emphasized that I wanted her to go all the way to having completed the song in order to see herself feeling proud. This time she was able to complete the visualization, but she was still anxious. I asked her to do it three consecutive times without stopping. After she had completed this assignment, she reported that each time it became easier. At the end of the session, she reported that she had some hope that she could accomplish this. For her homework I asked her to do the visualization three times a day. When Helen returned for her second session, she reported that she had completed the homework and was feeling more confident but still feared that she would freeze up in the actual event. I gave her the same assignment from the previous week but suggested that she make a couple of modifications to the visualization. Prior to her singing in front of the class, Helen would think that she is going to freeze up but then she sees her high school band friends surrounding her and hears them giving her encouragement. When Helen returned for her third session, she reported that she had faced a setback. The teacher called on each row to sing in class, and there was only one other person on Helen’s row. Helen became overwhelmed and froze. As we discussed this experience, I pointed out how this was different than when she would sing on the assigned date. This was a surprise; the assigned date would not be. On this occasion she had to sing something that she had not rehearsed. On the assigned date, she would sing something that she has prepared. On this occasion she had to sing with someone else. On the assigned date she would sing alone, free of the worry of blending with another voice. She acknowledged that these were significant differences. Helen reported that she had kept the assignment of the visualizing, and it had helped until she had the setback. After praising her for her good work, I encouraged her to continue with the visualization the following week. When Helen came for session four, she reported that she had continued with the visualization, and her confidence was at a 10 on the SUDS scale. Having decided that it didn’t matter what others thought about her singing, she realized that it would be more embarrassing to freeze up than to sing. Expressing excitement and praising her for continuing with the visualization, I pointed out what good work she was doing. Our fifth session was on the morning that she was scheduled to sing in class, and her confidence was still at a 10; she had sung in front of her parents and some friends over the weekend to practice. As she went through her mental video with me and described it as she watched it, I expressed my confidence in her. We agreed to meet again the next day to celebrate her accomplishment. When Helen returned the next day, she reported that she had sung in class without any problems. Though she had gone to the classroom early to practice, she had become nervous when the class began and didn’t think she could perform. Then, however, she visualized herself singing while her band friends from high school surrounded her and offered encouragement. When the teacher called on her, she stood up with confidence and began to sing; she performed the song perfectly. I congratulated her and told her how proud I was of her, assuring her that she—not I—had accomplished this.

Helen’s story shows the power of visualization and also the power of including significant others in the visualization who can give the person encouragement. It also shows the power of pointing out differences between setbacks and the actual event. If the setback had been exactly like the actual event, Helen may still have been able to overcome it though it likely would have been far more difficult. Becoming aware of significant differences made it easier for Helen to dismiss the setback and continue making progress. Exercise: Think of something that you need to do but find difficult to do. Create a detailed mental video of successfully accomplishing this activity or, if your predominant modality is auditory, create a detailed mental audio. As you run this video/audio in your mind three successive times, notice how much your confidence level has risen after this experience. The more you practice this, the more successful you will become at using it with your clients. Think of a belief that you have that sometimes creates problems for you. Instead of trying to change the belief, think of ways you can utilize the belief to create positive results. When you work with clients who stubbornly hold on to beliefs that cause difficulties, find ways to utilize the beliefs.

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