Quick Tips for Therapists

Part 2: What to Do When a Client Is Participating in Self-Judgment?

By Diana Garcia, MS, LMHC

In therapy, clients often judge themselves on many different aspects of their life. To help clients loosen from interfering thoughts, you can show them how those thoughts impact their lives.

Here’s an example:

Client: “I’m such a loser; I was ghosted. I’m done; no one will ever want to be with me.”

Therapist: “I can see you’re in pain. And I’m wondering if you can notice what your mind did there. By convincing you that you’re a loser, it tells you that NO ONE will ever want to be with you.”

Client: “I know, but it’s not the first time.”

Therapist: “There it goes again, upping the ante by providing more reasons and ‘truths.’ Regardless of whether what your mind says is true or not, can you notice what happens to your willingness to keep dating when you get hooked by this thought?”

Client: “Yeah, I’m done dating.”

Therapist: “It hurts to have these experiences. And your mind took this pain and plopped some more on by bullying you with the thought, ‘You’re a loser.’”

Client: “Yeah.”

Therapist: “When this bully pushes you around, you unquestioningly believe what it says. And your natural instinct is to protect yourself by trying to avoid being ghosted again.”

Client: “I do believe it.”

Therapist: “What’s it like to get pushed around like that?”

Client: “It sucks and makes me feel worse.”

Therapist: “What if you could start to notice the trap it sets up? When the bully says these things, you believe it, feel worse, and question whether you should continue on this dating path.”

Client: “I could try, but I still don’t know if I can get rejected again.”

Therapist: “Before you decide to give up on something that matters to you, can you first practice noticing the bully’s influence?”

Clients having self-judgment is a common experience that will show up in your office. Highlighting the impact of taking their minds too literally can help clients start to look at their thoughts instead of from their thoughts.

Catching up on the series? Read part one here.

Diana M. Garcia, MS, LMHC, is a licensed therapist in Florida and the founder and owner of the private practice Nurturing Minds Counseling. In her practice, she helps stressed-out millennials feel calm, confident, and kickass in their lives. Additionally, she also works with couples who are struggling to communicate and seeking to rekindle their connection. She’s been in the field since 2013, and has worked in various roles, including primary therapist at various treatment centers and, most recently, as director of counseling services at a local university. She is fortunate to be a Certified Daring Way Facilitator, and is a member of the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science.

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Quick Tips for Therapists