Using Silence in Counseling The following exchange between Carol and her counselor illustrates how..

Using Silence in Counseling

The following exchange between Carol and her counselor
illustrates how important silence can be in a crisis. Carol is an adult female
who presented to counseling with severe symptoms of depression, suicidal
ideation, and an attempt to kill herself yesterday with an overdose of sleeping
pills.

Carol: I just want to die. All of the emotional pain,
sadness, and humiliation. I just had another miscarriage, my third one, and I’m
almost certain I’ll never have children. (Pauses for 15 seconds to think.) On
top of that, my husband is growing more distant too, and I
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Using Silence in Counseling

The following exchange between Carol and her counselor
illustrates how important silence can be in a crisis. Carol is an adult female
who presented to counseling with severe symptoms of depression, suicidal
ideation, and an attempt to kill herself yesterday with an overdose of sleeping
pills.

Carol: I just want to die. All of the emotional pain,
sadness, and humiliation. I just had another miscarriage, my third one, and I’m
almost certain I’ll never have children. (Pauses for 15 seconds to think.) On
top of that, my husband is growing more distant too, and I worry he might leave
me for someone who he can have a family with.

Counselor: So you’re also feeling worried about how this is
going to impact your marriage, and whether or not your husband will want to be
with you.

Carol: (Silence for 30 seconds as she looks down and to the
right.) Yes, but I realize that if he truly cared for me, he wouldn’t leave. I
think maybe he is just as hurt and in as much pain as I am. It’s my own
insecurities, really. (Pauses for 15 more seconds.) And if he did want to
leave, then he is not the right person for me to be with. Maybe I deserve
better than that.

Counselor: (Silence for 20 seconds as the counselor gathers
her thoughts.) So there are a couple of things at work here. First, your
husband’s behavior could represent how he is grieving, and your insecurities
may have distorted how you have been making sense of his behavior. And second,
you realize that what is important for you is to be with someone who truly and
genuinely cares for you and is committed to the marriage.

Discussion Questions

1. How effective was the counselor’s use of silence?

2. What alternative responses may have also been helpful?

3. Put yourself in the position of the client. What would
you have been thinking to yourself during the periods of silence?

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