“Excuse Me” Therapy

Are negative patterns of behavior easier to break than we think? One therapist friend of mine thinks so: “I’m always amazed at what happens when I conduct a therapy session. My session room has a nice view from atop the Hollywood Hills. When people arrive, the woodsy surroundings tend to put them in a relaxed frame of mind….I observe them getting out of their cars, looking around at Nature with relief and contentment, and proceed to the front door. They follow me upstairs for the session, and as we chat everything is plum and positive until I ask, `So, what kind of challenges are you having in your life?’”

“Immediately, I notice their shoulders slumping, facial expression drooping, their breathing starting to labor, and their voice becoming more tense, as they tell their tale of despair and decide to embrace their `troubled’ state. What I usually do is say assertively, almost in a peeved or upset tone, `Excuse me, but we haven’t started the session yet!’ What happens? Immediately they say, `Oh, I’m sorry,’ sit straight up, resume healthy posture, breathing, normal voice and facial expressions, reverting back to feeling fine. The message comes through loud and clear.”

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