Ambivalence isn’t just a matter of figuring out what we want to do. It’s very much about the ability to make good decisions and feel confident about them.

The electric switch on a white background. 3D image.Motivation vs. Unmotivation, Part Four

Treatment begins as a negotiation between two parties that don’t know each other very well — one client and one clinician. Each comes to the table with an agenda.

Yes, clinicians have agendas. It’s never just about being of service to others. A counselor expects certain things to happen during treatment. It helps to clarify those before the process gets underway.

How to identify your agenda:

First, ask yourself: What do I feel really needs to happen in order for me to consider this counseling relationship a ‘success’? Which after all is the goal.

Next: What would I really like to see happen during this episode, even if not strictly a need, because it would make this a better experience for all concerned?

This is what we seek to achieve. Counseling is all about change; otherwise we’ll feel at least somewhat disappointed. Like we might just as well have stayed home and watched “Storage Wars” on the tube.

Clients have agendas, too. For example, the Type 1 has focused mostly on complying with whatever external pressure is forcing him into treatment. The Type 2 client really wants help, has a pretty good notion where the help is needed, and will be anxious for you to provide it. The Type 3 doesn’t really know what he wants — a barrier to obtaining it — and will expect assistance from us in figuring that out.

Each will judge success largely in terms of achieving those three very different goals.

An important point about the ambivalent Type 3: someone who’s very unsure about what they want to accomplish in treatment is likely to be quite indecisive in other aspects. Ambivalence isn’t just a matter of figuring out what we want to do. It’s very much about the ability to make good decisions and feel confident about them. And that may turn out to be a principal topic during counseling.

More info coming up in Part Five: The Active and the Passive


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