Creative Connections & Client Communications
Counseling Insights: 30 April 2006The “3R’s”: Review, Reinforcement, and Raising Spirits
The astrological consultation must have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Its organization helps the message develop. When we come to the end, we must know that the client will take away predominantly the material focused into the last five minutes. It is important for us to review the consultation and the discoveries shared with the client. Here are three ways to remember this important moment, this important function.
Review Try to review memorably the understandings to which you and your client have come, about the client’s developmental themes, routines, and structures. Repeat the key images that summed things up at different levels of learning.
I recently worked with a client –a very successful, wealthy gentleman, who constantly worried about how attractive he was—who brought into his conversation over and over and over again ‘how sick he had been’ at this time, another time, yet another time. I finally pointed out to him the suggestion that he was defining his identity in terms of sickness rather than in terms of his considerable accomplishments!
The man was startled with this understanding when I suggested that “There was method to his sadness!” This turn of phrase jarred him (substituting ‘sadness’ for ‘madness’ in the well-known phrase). Indeed, he did start to become free of his life-long tendency, by objectifying it, and, to summarize where we had been and what we had accomplished, I was sure to remind him of the telling epithet at the end of the consultation. This time, there was a knowing, glowing smile about it!
Reinforce We need to reinforce the strategies about the near future. With the client just mentioned above, he had business plans that really looked active and strong. The key, though, was to see these continuing business onslaughts as motivated in over-compensation for his deep inferiority feelings from his early home life experiences. The successes now –with a changed perception-- were to define his matured development, give him the self-aware pride that is so attractive and valuable in his society and business … not the identification with the illnesses, which we agreed had been used to attract female (maternal) sympathy.
Raise Spirits We must make our clients feel good about themselves. We must raise spirits with applause, with anecdote, with genuine, sincere compliments. Just realize how seldom in our society one receives a compliment from someone else; how seldom we give compliments to others! Believe it or not, some clients have never, ever heard praise, supportive evaluation in their life(!), especially in the early home life development.
I have had many clients tell me at the end of the consultation, “This is the nicest thing anyone’s ever done for me!” Imagine that! How starved so many people are for a sincere pat on the back.
Learn the power of certain phrases like “You’ve got lots to do! …This is an exciting period of time ahead; promise to put on your calendar that you’re going to call me early in December … no matter what!! … Now, on top of all that we’ve accomplished here, go home and hug your wife long and tight; remember, you shared with me all the reasons she has to love you! … I think you’re terrific; look at all you’ve done here, how many difficult spots you’ve conquered. Congratulations.”
Indeed, not all consultations work smoothly within the choreography suggested by this last-five-minutes outline. The insurance salesman doesn’t always get the contract; construction workers smash their hand with the hammer; the mailperson is attacked by somebody’s pet; astrologers run into resistance from deeply routined behaviors working against development. But the point here is to highlight the five-minute time at the end of the consultation as very important: much can be salvaged there. More often than not, much can be celebrated.
And it bears repeating: the client primarily takes away from the consultation and into the future the content of the last five minutes of your time together.
[Please see Archives, immediately following here, and select the essay “August 2001,” highlighting the last five minutes of the consultation.]