What to do when your client has had a good week?

Do you find yourself struggling whenever a client says they have had a good week? Do you panic a little and think “so what will we talk about now??” Do you feel at a loss about what to ask them? You know just what to do when your client is struggling. But now?

Your aim is to help them have good days and weeks. But when they do, you just end up staring at each other while you say stuff like “well keep on doing what you’re doing then I guess.”

In this post, I’ll show you how to relish those days when things are going great. You will feel confident that you can deliver great therapeutic value for your client.

There are 3 key ideas you will learn:

  • Amplify their success – with specifics
  • Give them the credit
  • Creating more good moments

In the session, you will move between amplifying and giving credit rather than working through in a linear way. You will save questions about the future for the final third of the session.

Their success is a great opportunity to trigger memory reconsolidation. Accomplishment may contradict a story the client has of themselves. By bumping the old belief into these successes, an opportunity for transformational change is possible.

Amplify Their Success

When the client experiences the success you are both working for, it is a time to amplify that success. The best way is to get specific. Be on the lookout for every grain of success and amplify it.

Here are some questions to help you dig into the details of their great week.

“What have you noticed that has been so good about this week?”

“What have you noticed about yourself that tells you things are going well?”

“What have you noticed yourself doing in such a good week?”

“How is your body feeling different this week?”

“How are your thoughts more enjoyable?”

“What difference does it make?”

“What else has been going well for you?” (this is a question to use many times)

Another way to dig into details is to get interactional. We do not live in isolation. By getting interactional, we can amplify the knock on effects that inevitably occur when life improves.

“What have others noticed that gave them a clue that things were going well for you?”


So for instance:

Therapist: What has your partner noticed about you that gives them a clue that things are going well for you?

Client: Oh I don’t know…..well, I’m smiling more!

Therapist: Ah ok, so you’re smililng more. And do they enjoy it when you are smiling more?

Client: Oh yes, they love it!

Therapist: How can you tell that they love it? What are you noticing about them that shows that they love it?

Client: Well, they are smiling a lot more too.

Therapist: Oh so they smile more when you smile?

Client: Yes!

Therapist: And what’s that like for you, to see them smiling more?

Client: Oh I love it. It’s great to see them smile so much.

Therapist: So what do you do when you love seeing them smile?


You can see how deep this interactional stuff can go – and that’s just with one other person. You can ask questions on what others notice for partners, friends, relatives, children – and even pets!

Therapist: So what is Spike the dog noticing about you that tells him ‘well this is going better’

Client: Ha! Well he’s certainly getting walked more!

Therapist: And he likes that?

Client: He loves it yes.

Therapist: And what’s that like for you, to be walking him more?

Client: Well it makes me feel better too, you know. I get fresh air and I’m getting some exercise.

Therapist: And that helps, to get more fresh air and some exercise?

Client: A lot yes. It’s so nice to get outside and I always feel better afterwards. And Spike makes me laugh.


Notice what a treasure trove a good week, day or even moment can be. Hopefully you can see just how much there is to talk about when things go well.

The key is to bring out the specific noticings as seen by the client and those around them. Then amplify them by digging into the benefits and differences that those changes also brought.

There is an opportunity for transformational change here too. Look out for opportunities to create memory reconsolidation for your client.

Remember that memory reconsolidation can overwrite old beliefs and responses so they never return. You will already know which emotional learnings the client wants to change. Be alert to which successes contradict those beliefs.

Client: I’m really pleased with myself because I’ve achieved a lot. I’ve got the living room decorated, and I have got an interview for a new job. I even took the dog to the dog groomer which I’ve wanted to do for ages.

Therapist: Oh wow, you’ve accomplished an awful lot! Decorating the living room is something in itself, but an interview for a job AND getting the dog sorted too?!

Client: I know. I’m really pleased with everything I’ve done.

Therapist: So, I’m curious. We’ve been talking for a while about a sense that you have about yourself that you are not capable, and how that feels for you. And yet, here you are telling me that you’ve decorated the living room, got a job interview, and got the dog groomed. All in just a week! How is that for you to, on the one hand, hold this old belief that you’re not capable – and on the other to notice all that you have achieved?

Notice how the therapist uses the detail from the client’s good week to invite them to hold both ideas in mind at the same time. This is the kind of contradiction experience that, in memory reconsolidation, allows these brain pathways to be rewritten permanently.

Memory reconsolidation requires the client to have experiences that disconfirm the beliefs and responses they wish to change. What better experience than their actual life?

Give them the credit

When the client has had a good week, day, or moment, it is important that they claim the credit. Your job is to ask questions that help them to notice what they did that brought about the change.

Here are some questions that lead you both to discover the client’s own resources and strategies. After all, these are strategies that are bespoke and are now proven to work for the client.

“How did you manage to do that?”

“What gave you the idea to do that?”

“How did you create these good moments for yourself?”

It is common for clients to try to pass off the credit onto something else. For instance, the better weather helped, or medication, or some other external change. When this happens, it is helpful to both honour their explanation, yet still hunt for their role in the change.


Therapist: So how have you managed to create this better week for yourself?

Client: Oh I don’t know really. I think the weather has helped. Just the sunshine makes me feel better so I think it’s that really.

Therapist: Yes, the sunshine helps. And what did you do to take full advantage of that sunshine?


Therapist: So how have you managed to create this better week for yourself?

Client: I think it’s probably just the new tablets my doctor gave me. I think it’s just that really.

Therapist: Okay, so the medication you started has helped?

Client: Yes I think so.

Therapist: And what have you been doing that has helped the medication do its thing?


A great way to help clients to formulate the strategies that created these good moments, is to invite them to teach an imaginary other.

Therapist: Imagine there is someone here now, who is pretty much a carbon copy of you. But they are where you were a few weeks ago. So they see you now and they are in awe. Because that’s where they want to be. And so they say “what tips can you give me to get to where you are?” What would you tell them?

I notice that even when the client is struggling to understand how they created the better week, inviting them to help another brings forth a ton of great tips.

Repeating these back to the client helps to solidify that these are strategies that they used to get here and can use again.


A powerful way to give credit to the client is to help the improvements be viewed as an issue of identity and character.

Therapist: “What does this say about you that you managed to achieve all this?”

Client: How do you mean?

Therapist: Well, only a week before, you were feeling really low and, somehow you’ve managed to get out of that and create this good week for yourself. What does that say about you and who you are?

Client: Well I’m pretty resilient I suppose….

Therapist: You are.

Client: And I guess I’m not one to just accept defeat. I keep fighting and somehow figure it out.


Suddenly, the changes are not just about individual strategies, but about who the client is. Their narrative of themself begins to change. They bring their resilience, determination and capability into their story.

Again, any of the information provided here might create a window for memory reconsolidation. Keep looking out for juxtaposition opportunities. Be alert to where the client’s old beliefs and their experience are in opposition.

Creating more good moments

You can spend the final third of the session asking about the future. This helps to create some change momentum. It connects the strategies and character of the client to hope for continued progress.

This is a dream scaping exercise where, again in detail, you lead the client through a conversational imagining of what progress will look like.

Therapist: So, this week has gone really well. If things got just a little bit better again, what might you be noticing?

Client: I think I’d just feel a bit more happy than now.

Therapist: Ok great. So you’d feel a bit more happy than now. And what might you be doing if you felt a bit more happy than now.

Client: Hmmm. I’d probably see friends more.

Therapist: Ah I see. So if you felt a bit more happy than now, you’d notice you were seeing friends more?

Client: Yes I think so. That would be nice. I’ve not really seen anyone for a while.

Therapist: So if you spotted yourself with a friend, that would be a sign that things had gotten a little better again?

Client: Yes it definitely would.

Therapist: Which friend in particular might you want to see first?

Notice how digging for detail puts flesh on the bones and helps the client create a vision of their own progress.

Ask whether any strategies that they’ve uncovered from this session could be applied going forward. This helps them to know that these strategies and techniques can be used over and over to create even more of the good stuff.

Summary

You have learned 3 key ideas to make the most of those moments when clients are doing better:

  • Amplify their success – with specifics
  • Give them the credit
  • Creating more good moments

Amplify their success by asking questions that dig for specific detail. Check out what difference these changes make. Get interactional by asking what others notice about them. Keep an eye out for things that contradict old belief systems so you can use the information in pursuit of memory reconsolidation.

Always give them the credit for the changes. Ask them how they created these good times in life. If they seek to credit an external source, ask for their contribution to that. Ask identity questions that help them to see that these changes are an echo of who they are. Help them understand their own bespoke strategies by inviting them to teach an imaginary other. Again, look for things that contradict old belief systems in case there are opportunities for memory reconsolidation.

Finally, build momentum by looking to a slightly better future – or at least a future where recent progress is maintained. Invite them to envision the next week going well. Be specific so they can spot the milestones through the week.

Hopefully, next time your client arrives feeling good, with a good week to report, you will relish it. You will no longer just be staring at each other wondering what to talk about. You’ll see it as a great therapeutic opportunity and enjoy the session.

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