I Said What to Clients?
Excerpts from the book, “I Said What?” A Therapist’s Insights & Solutions for Love, Joy and Success, by Helene Rothschild, LMFT
Note: The names of the clients have been changed to spices to protect their identity.
Mr. Curry had a violent temper. To help him, I suggested, “Curry, I think it would be very helpful for you to purchase a stuffed animal. When you feel angry, hug it as if it is your angry little boy.”
Curry returned the following week carrying a tennis bag. To my pleasant surprise, he unzipped it and took out his cute little teddy bear, hugged it and said, “It worked, Helene. I did not put my fist though any walls this week. Thank you so much.” I congratulated Curry for nurturing his scared inner child which was hiding behind his angry little boy.
Exasperated, Ms. Vanilla exclaimed, “My mother makes me so angry.” I suggested that she say, “Mom, when you say that, I feel discounted.” Vanilla repeated my words and then admitted that she felt calmer and more powerful because she expressed the underlying feeling of her anger.
The truth is that no one makes you feel anything. Only we are responsible for all of our feelings; otherwise, we are like puppets who allow others to pull our strings. When that image comes up in a session, I encourage the client to cut the puppet cords so that no one can control them. Then they can take control of their lives, including their feelings.
For example, “Mr. Coconut”, I said, “I believe that you are suffering from the Puppet Syndrome. Close your eyes and look up to see who you are allowing to pull your strings?” “I see my parents and wife,” he replied. “I continued, “Coconut if you are ready and willing to be your own person, cut the puppet strings.” “I am definitely ready!” he declared. Coconut felt free to be his own person for the first time in his life.
Are you feeling free to be who you uniquely are? You are probably very unhappy if you are allowing others to pull your strings and control your life. It is your birthright to be free to be yourself. You can also cut the puppet strings and stand up for yourself. Go for it!
Mr. Paprika felt guilty that he did not love his parents. I explained, “Paprika, even if you are angry at them, you can still love them.” Love is a general feeling of deep caring; like and dislikes are about specific words or behaviors. Therefore, you can say, “I love you, and I do not like it when you criticize me.”
When clients ask me, “Helene, what should I do?” I respond with, “What are your choices?” After they explore the possible solutions, I continue, “Which one feels right to you?” I empower them to solve their own problems so they do not depend on me for their answers.
Copyright 2016 by author Helene Rothschild, LMFT,