Mary Pipher (2003) in the book, Letters to a Young Therapist, writes that change that looks too good to be true most likely is. She favors incremental change in therapy. Just as there is no free lunch, there is no free transformation for a client.
Dr. Suzuki developed a method for teaching children to play classical music. He discovered that if the steps were small enough anyone could move forward into mastery. People rarely try to take huge steps, and if they do they often fall down. The secret is finding the step size that propels people forward but allows them to succeed with each move.
Pipher (2003) encourages clients, “don’t rush and don’t stop.” Praise what you hope to continue in the lives of your clients. For example, say to a troubled teenager, “I really like that you went to school when you felt tired. That shows real maturity.” Create small measurable goals with your clients–goals that will produce reward for them but not overwhelm them. Praise the client for even small progress. Sometimes it is most helpful for a client to move slowly towards major life change.
Reference: Pipher, M. (2003). Letters to a young therapist. New York, NY: Basic Books.
Cindy A. Geil, M.A.
WKPIC Doctoral Intern