Sometimes you develop new routines by accident. In this case it was developing Vague Therapy A client came to me that I had seen the week before. I had worked with her to erase her feeling of inadequacy in group situations. I asked her about the results from our previous session.
She said she felt much better. She said for example at lunch on a training course she felt open and talked to everyone and contributed all the way through. Her previous problem of feeling shy in company and being unable to speak has just gone away completely.
She told me that she is now OK in groups, but she still feels inadequate on dealing with senior people one-on-one. It's like she is in awe of these people. She hates being in the spotlight. She feels as though she's been put on the spot and doesn't know what to say.
She told another story. She was in her office building waiting for the lift when this older man started speaking to her. He jokingly said he had ordered the lift for her and asked her how she felt et cetera, et cetera. She chattered back very comfortably. Until she asked him if he was looking for someone in particular in the building. He replied "No, I am a member of the Board". She immediately felt tongue-tied and embarrassed. It was this that she wanted to deal with.
Repeating the same therapy probably won't work
I was running out of time because I had a wedding to go to. I had to do something within the hour. I decided on a parts therapy. So I did a very short induction on her.
As soon as I started on the parts routine I got this horrible feeling that I had done exactly the same thing with her last week. I usually consult my notes before a client, but with getting ready for the wedding, I had forgot. I started panicking. But there was no going back. I felt very nervous, I am sure you could hear it in my voice.
Developing Vague Therapy
I usually suggest a detailed intro to get to some specific place that represents her unconscious mind. Usually I lead the person into a magic cave. Then they meet someone who discusses at length what behavior to change. This time I didn't have time for any of that. I had come up with something different. This time I just suggested a very large space. There was no suggestion of caves or cathedrals or anything else. I told her she was sinking into a big chair. Instead of trying to address the specific behavior, I just told her that she was getting the feeling that she had when she was talking to the man outside the lift. Immediately it was clear that she was in the feeling. Her chin was wobbling, her face was moving, she was very distressed.
I was then committed to continuing some sort of parts therapy, so I just pressed on. I was sure that I had done the same routine the previous week, and I was desperate not to duplicate it. So I did a very short version of the usual routine. Basically it was the same parts routine, but using as vague words and ideas as I could think up. I stripped out all the detail of what was happening and trying to avoid any imagery of the previous week's session. I had no idea what she would think of getting the same thing twice.
The outcome of developing Vague Therapy
When I got her to count herself out, she said that she was amazed at how vivid and real it was. She described in great detail what she saw and felt. She said she felt really moved by all the forces she had encountered. She said "I want to come back and do more of this!"
In fact, I have not done the parts therapy with this client. I had done it with a previous client a few days before. The two clients looked remarkably similar. That's why I thought that I had done the same routine with her previously.
What was interesting was that the vaguest instructions actually worked better that my usual, carefully constructed routine.
What do you think?