Psychotherapy Pearls: Never ask questions

The therapist asks:  Are you suicidal?  The patient thinks: What does he want me to say?

The therapist says:  I suppose you're a little suicidal.  The patient responds:  Well, now and then.

One of the basic rules of psychotherapy is never to ask a question when you can make a statement. People respond to questions by being defensive; statements catch them off guard, and, depending on how they react, the interviewer gets a more accurate sense of what the patient really thinks. 

This idea - avoiding questions in an interview - was a basic concept taught by Leston Havens, an existential psychoanalyst, in his classic paper, "Soundings."  

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