In Today’s Lesson:


References in this video: The 2-part counseling session with Debbie

Many adult clients (and therapists) like to focus on the past when they are in a therapy session. Clients like to tell stories about the past and may tell therapists very specific chronological details about what happened and when it occurred. Certainly if clients are recounting a traumatic event these details are very important and knowing clients’ histories can be very useful to therapists.

However, when therapists learn to work in the here and now their therapeutic interventions will become more potent and effective. Let us say that a client is telling you about her divorce. She has been divorced for a year and as she talks about it, the therapist can tell she is still upset. One simple way to shift her focus from the past to the present is to ask her, “When you think about your ex-husband, how do you feel now?”

Staying in the present is not as simple as it sounds. In my supervision sessions with advanced practitioners, I have noticed that even when they are trying to stay in the moment they frequently leave it unintentionally.

In my session with Debbie, I begin the session by asking her, “What is it like to create this scene?” I could have asked her, “What was it like?” but I intentionally chose not to focus on her experience of a few minutes earlier.

In humanistic sandtray therapy you will find that therapists try to stay in the present most of the time. We acknowledge the importance of the past and at times we focus on it with the client but we believe that working in the here and now is more beneficial to clients because this approach emphasizes in the moment awareness. We believe if we facilitate increased awareness in the present clients will wake up and see themselves in a clearer way and this seeing will allow them to be at choice rather than automatically repeating self-defeating patterns in their lives.

In humanistic sandtray therapy staying in the moment is essential and I hope this video helps to explain its importance.

The next time you hear from me we will talk about the importance of identifying themes and patterns with clients.

Talk to you soon.