Co-Presenters: Phil Kinsler, PhD; Kathy Steele, MN, CS, Joan Turkus, MD, and others

CWhat we say to our clients, and how and when we say it can make all the difference between increasing a client’s resistance or building a collaborative therapeutic alliance in which the client feels heard and understood. Words are essential in therapy, but sometimes they get in the way and even create distraction and distrust. The art of word smithing is an essential skill for therapists, but it is rarely discussed or taught. We have all had painful experiences of saying the wrong thing to a client, or the right thing but in the wrong way. Each of us has lashed out in defense or withheld our words when a relational approach would have been more effective in a challenging therapy situation. What do you say to a client who is enraged or humiliated? How do you respond to a child part that insists on being held? When a client is ashamed, what words might find their way through an impenetrable fortress of defense? How do you set a firm limit with a client who is overstepping a boundary without evoking shame or rage? How do you approach a client who is abusive to you? What do you say when you have made a mistake, or when the client believes you have made a mistake and you have not? When is it important to use the client’s own language and when not? Come learn from an array of experts who have honed the craft of what to say and how to say it to clients.

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