So, the first step is to search for something that fits one of the tools we have at our disposal. We are looking for certain markers that point to one of our main techniques. For example:
- An unwanted feeling suggests re-experiencing of incidents.
- Illogical statements suggests looking for deletions, distortions, or fixed ideas.
- Unwanted personality traits suggests polarity integration.
- Lost abilities suggests soul retrieval.
- A specified focus of trouble suggests unburdening.
- An undesirable reaction suggests perceptual processing
- A limited outlook on life suggests reframing, i.e. changing of meaning.
Often, several of these markers will be overlapping. The job of the facilitator is to choose the best tool she can think of for the situation at hand. If it isn't the absolutely perfect choice, no reason to loose sleep over that. It is better to do something than nothing.
It is preferable to be addressing a specific item, going for a specific outcome; that usually gets the best and most permanent results. But there is also something to gain from the search for something specific to process. It is not just a waste of time, the search is a process in itself.
Often the client's problem is simply that she is confused and she doesn't know what she wants. Getting that clarified is sometimes the end of a process, leaving her perfectly happy just knowing where she is going.
Some of the tools for helping a client finding out what she wants are:
- Dialoguing (two-way discussion)
- Challenging illogic
- Clarification of outcome
These are processes with a fuzzy starting point. We start with a confused or un-specified situation. We work on specifying more clearly what is going on. The process is complete when the previously hidden information has come to light and been specified. That might have handled the overall issue completely for the client, or it might be the lead-in to another more specific or deeper process.
The client might come in feeling stressed out about work. A dialogue to find out what is going on might reveal to her that she really needs to talk to her supervisor about a raise. Making that decision ends the matter for her, and there is nothing further we can do in session. She wants to take action on it out in life, not here in session.
Another client might also come in stressed out about work. Some dialoguing reveals that she feels shy and timid while at work, while with her friends she feels bold and outgoing. That points to polarity integration or perceptual processing as possible next actions. We would shift to that as soon as it becomes clear what is going on. For example, a polarity would not likely be solved through dialoguing alone, it takes something stronger.
Don't worry too much if it takes a little time finding out what is up and down on the client's situation in the beginning of the session. The process of finding out is still likely to be useful to the client, even if you might feel that you have done nothing for her.
Just working on understanding what the person is talking about is valid processing. If you don't know what else to do, try to understand where she is at. Show sincere interest and work on getting a clear picture of her current situation.
The client might come into session without offering any particular complaint, but without looking clean. So, you might have to drag information out of her.
"What would you like to work on?"
"Is there anything you would like to change?"
"Is anything troubling you?"
"How are you doing at work?"
"Is anything not the way it should be?"