Confrontation Skills Exercises
Confrontation in counseling is a way of encouraging change in our clients. An effective confrontation is both supportive and challenging. Confrontation is not harsh, judgmental or critical. Confrontation requires sensitivity and timing. Confrontation is about contradictions in the client’s verbal and nonverbal story. This skill requires accurate identification of incongruities between stated or yearned for goals and self-defeating thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Accurate identification requires attentive listening – the foundations of this course. As we truly listen with our minds and our hearts we will sense these inconsistencies and must be courageous enough to first clarify what we believe we heard, then present this with an air of genuine caring and curiosity. Clients come to counseling because we see what they cannot see, it is why they pay us “the big bucks”, but this information is often hard to hear yet must be heard in order to stimulate movement and growth. Generally there is a formula associated with confrontation in counseling that follows the format: “On one hand……, but on the other……”
See if you can find the inconsistencies, incongruities, or contradictions in the following scenarios and write a brief confrontation statement to the “client” pointing these out following some of the guidelines in the paragraph above.
EXAMPLE: A woman laughs as she says: “I am just so stressed that I would consider suicide – only I have no time to even figure out how to do it!”
COUNSELOR CONFRONTATION: “On one hand I sense you are trying to make light of it yet on the other suicide really has crossed your mind as a way out of what feels so overwhelming…”
Now YOU try creating confrontations with the following client statements. There may be something familiar about these statements as they come from the characters from some well-known stories. This might help you as you may know the backstory from the plot and help you frame up the confrontation:
1. Your Client, Rose, says “We had only just met that wonderful terrible night that the Titanic sank. He changed my life forever. Jack had just saved my life for the second time by allowing me to stay on top of a piece of flotsam and he gripped my hand so tight I felt safe. I said “Jack I will never let you go…” but when I thought there was a chance I might be saved I worked hard to pry his fingers off of my hand….oh, It should have been me! I want to die! My heart can’t go on beating!”
Counselor Confrontation: (remember find a contradiction or inconsistency)
2. Your Client, Daniel Hillard, says: “My wife Miranda doesn’t appreciate all that I do for our family to keep it happy. I thought I was doing a good thing for my son Chris that day. My wife Miranda had put our son Chris on restriction for not getting his homework done, but after all it was his birthday and since I just got fired I had the afternoon off and Miranda wouldn’t be home for a long while – she always works late - I hired a petting zoo to come to the house and got a big birthday cake. Well the party got a tiny bit out of hand and a nosy neighbor called Miranda to complain and she marched in like an armada. I would have cleaned it all up if she hadn’t come home early, but Miranda made such a big fuss - she is so picky - and then she said she wanted a divorce! Over a birthday party! Can you imagine?”
3. Your Client, Rabbit, says: “I am so angry at my friend! It is all Winnie the Pooh’s fault you know. He eats too much. He has never, in all the time I have known him, ever consumed a normal sized meal – not once! And he has a big addiction to honey. Well it had been a while since I had seen Pooh so I invited him to dinner one night. I had some honey on hand and I put it on the table thinking that Pooh would be reasonable and only have a dab or two… well he ate ALL my honey. Can you believe him? As a result his bottom grew very fat and now he has to stay in my burrow until he gets thinner again! I am so angry with him. He should not eat so much! He should use willpower! Oh bother!”
4. Your client, Walter White, says: “Look at me, do I look like a bad guy? I am a high school chemistry teacher for gosh sake! I don’t believe in drugs and if my son, Junior, ever went near drugs I would take immediate action and do whatever it took to get him help. I am an upstanding member of my community. The only reason I was cooking meth was because I want to pay for my cancer treatments and not leave my family destitute after I die. Honestly, it was all for a good cause! Why is my wife Skylar so upset with me? (With an exasperated sigh) Women!”
5. Your client, Eeyore, says: (In a very sad sing song voice) “No one likes me. I don’t have any friends. It’s okay, that’s just the way it is…I don’t mind really. Go ahead, pull my tail, I am used to it.”
6. Your client, Luke Skywalker, says: “I have this really crazy relationship with my father – kind of a love-hate kind of relationship… I am mad at him for abandoning me and yet I want to save him from what he has become.”
How hard do you think it will be for you to use the skill of confrontation with your mock client? Explain why you believe this is the case.
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1. Counselor Confrontation: I understand that you greatly appreciate what Jack has done for you and that you cared for him very much. Nevertheless, you reacted instinctively in order to save your own life. On the other hand, you said you feel like it should have been you that died.
2. Counselor Confrontation: On one hand, you mentioned that you planned the birthday party so that Miranda wouldn’t find out, which I suppose means you knew she would probably get angry about you planning the party in spite of what she decided earlier. On the other hand, you said you where shocked by her reaction and think it is maybe a little out of proportion....
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