What are the first things a therapist analyzes or notices about new clients?

The first thing I analyze is the client’s problem, even before I meet with the client.

When a client first walks in I notice their level of comfort. I personally like it when a client is open and motivated to start therapy, but that doesn’t mean the closed off ones don’t benefit from it. I work with adolescents, and I have probably had like two or three clients that were extremely disengaged. This goes into a story that sometimes disengaged clients actually can learn the most from therapy.

I remember this one time I had a 13 year old female client who was having problems with her behavior at home and school because her father and mother recently separated. The client’s mother reported that the client hasn’t been talking to anybody at home and the client constantly gave her an attitude. The client did not want to be in therapy at all and only came because her mother forced her. I told her mother not to force her to come and that therapy may not work out. I offered the client a referral to a female therapist and she did not want that. The client’s mother wanted her daughter to continue seeing me, so I spoke with her mother about having a session with the both of them at the same time for the second appointment.

The session with both the client and mother went very well. The client opened up about all her problems and feelings about her parents separation and how she felt about therapy not being any help. The client started crying and at the end they hugged each other.

I thought about the situation and it was actually a contradiction because the reality is that therapy was helping and only so little of it. During the session, I brought it to the here and now and told the pt. that therapy is working because you are opening up to your mother, (which is something that she wasn’t doing before). What happened next surprised me and also made a lot of sense.

The client’s mother agreed with her daughter that she didn’t need therapy and was actually being present with her daughter by empathizing with her. This was a first for both of them. The client’s mother wanted to terminate after that session and I told the client’s mother that I will follow up with them a month later.

A month passes by and I call the client’s mother. She answers and says that her and her daughter have been doing so much better and she has been listening and talking with her a lot more.

So when I analyze a client, I don’t get mislead by a pt.’s discomfort. It can actually pave the road to a successful outcome.

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