Dr. Schooley and her co-author, fellow professor and family therapist, Jim Hibel, are currently writing a book on the small systemic skills that therapists can intentionally practice in order to increase their effectiveness. In this video series, we review the systemic therapy skills that will be included in their book.
If you haven’t already read, or viewed, part one from this series, do that now!
In this video, Dr. Schooley and I pick up our conversation with the next two microskills in the series: Client language, and matching.
Systemic Joining Microskill #2
AS: Client language is the using of the actual client’s words in whatever you do next.
Now, not all of them.
This is not mimicking in a kind of aphasic way. But, this is selecting words that you use back. The simplest, of course, is simply to echo.
So, talk about your daughter being sick again.
IW: Alright, so when I hopped on camera, Dr. Schooley, which I appreciate so much, told me that I look tired.
AS: So, empathetic to call you tired!
Example of using client language through the skill, “echoing”
IW: Which is good, because people don't talk that way, and I I like it.
She mentioned that, and so then I told her that my daughter was sick. Well, we're all sick in our home, and my daughter was throwing up last night.
AW: Ugh. Throwing up.
IW: She throws up, and it's upsetting. It’s upsetting to us, not because we're upset as parents. But, because she's upset, and so, then, you know, the whole family's up . . .
AW: So, upset at her her upset?
AW: So those are examples of echoing just selecting words to echo back. And, of course prosody is active, because I could say, “Throwing up??!!”, which would be very different.
IW: It would be like, “gross.”
AS: Yes, exactly, or potentially judgmental, right? Depends on how the client hears it. So, that's where observing the client’s reaction to what you do lets you know how they heard it. It's not enough for you to have an intention. It's how did they receive it?.
IW: Yeah, and sometimes you can grab that just by their nonverbals, and you can address it.
So, echoing the actual words that people say—that's the use of client language. And, of course, we use it not just in echoing, which is a kind of summary, but also might use it in a question, a validating, empathizing, or summarizing statement, or whatever.
Systemic Joining Microskill #3: Nonverbal Matching
AW: This is a little harder with just headshot, but it's the the thing of where when the client leads forward, you lean forward. If they go back, you go back. If they go on one chin you make a—maybe not mirroring exactly. There's a theater technique of literally mirroring what the other person is doing. It just, it allows you to expand on your observation and taking in what you see kind of skills.
But, the idea is, it's a way of being with someone by mirroring, or close approximating, the position that they get into.
IW: How is that helpful?
AS: It's pretty subliminal. You're doing it—the therapist is doing it on purpose, but for the client, it's a way of being with them physically. Literally being in the same position that they're in, but they don't necessarily notice it. It's something that's kind of happening at this nonverbal level.
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More from Dr. Schooley
Dr. Schooley has been a guest on the blog in the past. See the following posts:
Let me know in the comments below:
What stands out as helpful from this video lesson?