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What Do I Say?: The Therapist's Guide to Answering Client Questions

ISBN: 978-1-118-06148-0
384 pages
May 2011
What Do I Say?: The Therapist


The must-have guide to honestly and sensitively answering your clients' questions

Written to help therapists view their clients' questions as collaborative elements of clinical work, What Do I Say? explores the questions—some direct, others unspoken—that all therapists, at one time or another, will encounter from clients. Authors and practicing therapists Linda Edelstein and Charles Waehler take a thought-provoking look at how answers to clients' questions shape a therapeutic climate of expression that encourages personal discovery and growth.

Strategically arranged in a question-and-answer format for ease of use, this hands-on guide is conversational in tone and filled with personal examples from experienced therapists on twenty-three hot-button topics, including religion, sex, money, and boundaries. What Do I Say? tackles actual client questions, such as:

  • Can you help me? (Chapter 1, The Early Sessions)

  • Sorry I am late. Can we have extra time? (Chapter 9, Boundaries)

  • I don't believe in all this therapy crap. What do you think about that? (Chapter 3, Therapeutic Process)

  • Why is change so hard? (Chapter 4, Expectations About Change)

  • Will you attend my graduation/wedding/musical performance/speech/business grand opening? (Chapter 20, Out of the Office)

  • Where are you going on vacation? (Chapter 10, Personal Questions)

  • I gave your name to a friend . . . Will you see her? (Chapter 9, Boundaries)

  • Should I pray about my problems? (Chapter 12, Religion and Spirituality)

  • Are you like all those other liberals who believe gay people have equal rights? (Chapter 13, Prejudice)

The power of therapy lies in the freedom it offers clients to discuss anything and everything. It's not surprising then, that clients will surprise therapists with their experiences and sometimes with the questions they ask. What Do I Say? reveals how these questions—no matter how difficult or uncomfortable—can be used to support the therapeutic process rather than derail the therapist–client relationship.

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Table of Contents

Preface ix

Acknowledgments xv

PART 1 Client Questions in a Broad Context

Introduction to Part 1 1

Why Do Clients’ Questions Cause Apprehension? 3

What Do the Different Theories Advise? 5

Remember, It’s Not About You 11

Guidelines for Answering Questions 13

Style and Language Considerations 17

Further Thoughts 23

PART 2 Client Questions and Responses by Topic

Introduction to Part 2 25

1 The Early Sessions 27

2 Experience 43

3 Therapeutic Process 54

4 Expectations About Change 70

5 Techniques 80

6 Professional Role 94

7 Money 107

8 Confidentiality 119

9 Boundaries 131

10 Personal Questions 148

11 Sexuality 169

12 Religion and Spirituality 185

13 Prejudice 201

14 Stigma 209

15 Physical Appearance 217

16 Dreams 233

17 Therapists’ Reactions 245

18 Individual and Cultural Differences 259

19 Involving Others 273

20 Out of the Office 285

21 Keeping in Touch 304

22 Life Events 314

23 Ending Therapy 324

Concluding Thoughts 343

References 347

Index 351

About the Authors 357

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Author Information

Linda N. Edelstein, PhD, is a supervisor and clinical psychologist with thirty years' experience. She has been teaching graduate students since 1987. For the last seven years, she has taught a popular graduate course entitled Adult Development at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. Prior to this appointment, she was on the faculty at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology for fifteen years, where students twice voted her Teacher of the Year. She maintains a practice in Evanston and Chicago.

Charles A. Waehler, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Collaborative Program in Counseling Psychology at The University of Akron. He has taught both beginning and advanced practica, assessment courses, and classes in personality and psychopathology. Dr. Waehler is a Fellow in the Society for Personality Assessment. Throughout his academic career, Dr. Waehler has been a practicing psychologist seeing individual adolescents and adults. For the last fifteen years, he has been affiliated with Cornerstone Psychological Services in Medina, Ohio. His research interests include the counseling process and personality assessment.

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"What Do I Say? is a useful guide for beginning psychotherapists and, therefore, is appropriate for most graduate courses on psychotherapeutic process. The book is equally useful for any psychotherapy supervisor..." (Psychotherapy, 2012)

"This book is terrific. As a seasoned psychotherapist and instructor, I found it to be an intelligent and sensitive guide that will shepherd therapists through the potential pitfalls of client questions—especially those that snag us at the beginning of our careers. It is a deftly written wellspring of practical advice that will allay the anxieties of students and therapists alike."
Michael C. LaSala, Ph.D., LCSW, Director of MSW Program, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

"On one level, What Do I Say? is a practical "how to" guide offering some excellent suggestions for responding to the many questions that clients can ask. But dig deeper and you'll also find an in-depth exploration of the therapeutic relationship and the ways in which questions from clients are opportunities to explore and to strengthen this relationship."
Mary Kate Reese, PhD, LPC, NCC, Professor and Associate Chair, Counseling Department Argosy University

"I commend the authors for an excellent contribution to the literature on therapy process and how to navigate the many challenges we face as working clinicians. In our training, we spend so much time on the bigger picture and many times have little opportunity to try our hand at the individual questions that will surely arise in our work with others. What Do I Say? is the perfect remedy, and this is the most practical book I have come across in my training and professional development."
Raymond L. Sheets, Jr., M.A., 5th Year Ph.D. Student in Counseling Psychology Western Michigan University

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Related Websites / Extra

Linda Edelstein Web SiteVisit Linda Edelstein site for more information
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