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  #1  
Unread August 8th, 2004, 06:20 AM
Padraig O'Morain Padraig O'Morain is offline
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Default Sleeping with the Client

I gather that even very distinguished therapists like Irvin Yalom confess to having to fight off the desire to fall asleep when listening to certain clients. Has anybody out there developed some good tricks/strategies/tactics for staying awake?
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  #2  
Unread August 9th, 2004, 02:32 PM
John Grohol John Grohol is offline
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Default Re: Sleeping with the Client

Well, of course, the best trick is to get a good night's sleep as much as possible. If you find yourself regularly nodding off with clients throughout the day, that's probably as much a sign of not receiving enough sleep as anything else.

I never learned any tricks from others in this regard. When I did therapy, I would just try and ensure I was ready for the next 50 minutes, whether that included getting a cup of coffee, going outside for a brisk walk, or whatever. If time allowed, a mid-day power nap also helped from time to time.
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  #3  
Unread August 9th, 2004, 02:39 PM
Carol Ann Rowland Carol Ann Rowland is offline
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Default Re: Sleeping with the Client

I agree that going for a walk - and above and beyond getting enough sleep when possible - are good strategies.

I also try not to eat a lunch that is heavy in carbohydrates as when I do I am more prone to sleepiness.

The worst time I ever had with this was when I was pregnant. It was later felt that my thyroid had probably been out of whack but none of the professionals at the time thought of that. I was so sleepy it was a nightmare in the afternoons. Most of my clients I would arrange to see in the morning or very late afternoon which seemed better. One could only come at 2pm and no matter what I did the fatigue would hit me. I was so tired I actually had tears rolling down my face (no way of passing it off as empathy) and would drape my legs over the side of another chair. A few times I caught myself wondering with serious intent if it would be TOO distracting for the client if I lay on the floor as she talked. Was just able to stop myself from asking her....

The odd thing was she did not seem to mind and just talked as if nothing was happening. I apologized and encouraged her to talk about what that was like for her, but she said she was (and truly appeared to be) unaffected. She saw me since well before my pregnancy and knew I had not been like that then, so maybe that helped her to not personalize it - I don't know.

It rarely affects me now, but when it does I generally try to acknowledge to the client that I didn't get enough sleep or whatever so that hopefully it feels less personal. I think generally clients will notice anyways so it's good to acknowledge it. If I find I have a run where a particular time of day is bad for me, I avoid booking during that time period when possible.
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  #4  
Unread August 9th, 2004, 06:13 PM
Padraig O'Morain Padraig O'Morain is offline
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Default Re: Sleeping with the Client

I read somewhere that in one experiment tapes of clients who made therapists sleepy were played to other therapists who all felt sleepy on hearing the tapes. The explanation put forward was that when clients want to conceal something they unconsciously made their therapists sleepy!
Well, I've replaced my comfortable chair with a wooden chair which seems to help. Odd, though, how I've never, ever felt tired or sleepy with most clients.
Sounds a bit daft, I know, but there might be something in that theory about therapists feeling sleepy when clients don't want to reveal something: perhaps they engage in inconsequential talk which bores the poor old therapist.


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  #5  
Unread September 3rd, 2004, 01:38 PM
Jacqueline Jacqueline is offline
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Default Re: Sleeping with the Client

In reading a book on Gestalt Therapy, I came across a chapter mentioning that same problem, feeling sleepy with some clients, but not all. What was said was that if you are becoming sleepy it is probably due to the clients boring droning voice and content of their conversation. What the therapist did was actually say to the client, "you sound rather bored with where you are at right now, how do you feel". Having shone a light on their boredom of the area which the client was talking about, the therapist was able to help them move on to an area whch was more productive! Don't know if that is any help!

Jacqueline
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  #6  
Unread September 29th, 2004, 09:31 PM
Melody Victor, Ph.D. Melody Victor, Ph.D. is offline
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Default Re: Sleeping with the Client

I've never felt like falling asleep, specifically either...but I have sure as blazes been bored by some clients. Now I try to take a more active approach with them when I feel this way...even interrupting them at times by summarizing what they said and where I think they're going with it - then checking out if they agree this is acurate. It's not my favorite approach, but with "boring" clients, I think it's actually more respectful than just letting them prattle on in a boring manner. Perhaps over time my summarization skills will rub off, and they can learn to say what they're trying to get across in a less "boring" way.

I understand fully that this is can be a dangerous approach and I don't take it lightly. I would never suggest interrupting most clients rather than listening to them and allowing them to process what they're saying as they say it.
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  #7  
Unread October 20th, 2004, 12:14 PM
Trainee Katie Trainee Katie is offline
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Default Re: Sleeping with the Client

I've certainly read Yalom talking about this problem, and he mentioned that he thought his therapist may have had the same problem with him - his therapist always sat in an uncomfy wooden chair!

I've found not yawning to be a problem. It does not imply I'm sleepy, just the stuffy consulting rooms. I thought I'd mastered the art of the closed mouth "hidden" yawn, until one of my clients told me to just yawn if I wanted to!....which actually opened the way for a great session about my reaction to my client and how they perceived I thought about them.

I find a museli bar pre-session and a big glass of ice cold water during the session helps!
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  #8  
Unread April 7th, 2005, 02:54 PM
KounselorK KounselorK is offline
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Default Re: Sleeping with the Client

I used to have the same problem. I finally discovered that this would happen regardless of sleep or diet. For me, the problem came with where my attention was. I would always get sleepy when I would allow myself to follow the client story instead of focusing on what it all meant in regard to my client's issue.
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  #9  
Unread April 9th, 2005, 03:39 PM
EDeRosa EDeRosa is offline
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Default Re: Sleeping with the Client

I guess you have to be very sincere with your patient/client, and tell him how one´s feeling, ( if falling asleep ). Some people are really boring, I maybe that´s part of the problem they are trying to resolve.
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  #10  
Unread June 9th, 2005, 01:02 PM
tonymoco tonymoco is offline
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Default Re: Sleeping with the Client

I find it both fascinating and disappointing that none in a group of psychology "professionals" has commented on the two most glaring aspects of this thread:

-- First, that you were initially atttracted by the sexual innuendo of the title and the hope that it would be a chance to discuss/vent/react/confess around the real issue of your desires to have sex with your clients. I don't know WHY you apparently have such difficulty discussing that issue (fear of peer condemnation about something that is very human?), but you do.

--Second, the many instances in which your own "feelings of sleepiness" have to do with your own unresolved issues/experiences...places where you went to sleep (literally or figuratively) as a child in the face of overwhelming emotional challenges. Regardless of what triggers them, they are YOUR feelings of sleepiness. Attempts to find a client based explanation for them --especially as it relates to a judgement of the individual as "boring" - are irresponsible.

These are the kinds of professional patterns of denial which justifiably give therapists a bad name.
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