I noticed something early in my career. I got a job where I was doing groups for this agency. It was a part-time job, just to make a little extra money. I was saving up for a house at the time. And, I would go to the agency and I would sit and wait for the time of my group. I would go from my first job to my second job. I usually got there early and I would just kind of sit and wait. And all of the other therapists who were doing their groups (it was an agency that did lots of groups, so there were lots of group leaders), they’re all running around xeroxing things and getting games together, all these activities for their groups. And I would just sit in the corner kind of playing on my phone.

One day, one of the therapists said to me, “How come you never are xeroxing things, or you’re never going to the room where all the games and things are, to get stuff ready for your group?”. And I said, “Because I don’t need those for my group.” Then she said, “So what do you do in your group?” And I said, “Well, we have a conversation that leads towards healing.” And she looked at me like I was crazy.

I’m convinced to this day that most of the other therapists just thought I was not prepared.

We used to have conversations about how you actually run a session, and I realized that a lot of therapists, they need activities just to fill the 50 minutes, and they rely on those activities and on worksheets and on games. And I want to ask you not to do that.

If you’ve got 50 minutes with your clients, and you’ve got all that time to fill, I want you to recognize that that’s what the whole conversation is for. That’s what we’re supposed to be doing in the session.

I remember going to graduate school, and studying all these approaches, from Sigmund Freud, to the most current things, and everything in between, Adler, Young. I don’t remember ever seeing one of these people do worksheets in their sessions. I don’t remember them ever pulling games out in their sessions. Psychotherapy is a conversation.

Now, I’m not talking about things that are designed for games like play therapy. I’m talking about talk therapy. It’s designed to be a conversation that leads to somebody’s healing. So I want you to rely on that conversation.

Now, the way that I share to do it is using Solution Focused Brief Therapy, and with my colleague Dr. Adam Froerer, we developed the Diamond, which is nothing more than a flow of how the conversation should go in the session, but, really use your words, use your clinical skills through conversation. That’s how you actually create change.

Don’t turn the session into creating busy work for the client. Don’t try to think, “Ooh, what can I do in this 50 minutes?” What you can do in that 50 minutes is ask questions that lead towards change.

Have a conversation that transforms your client’s life. That’s what we’re supposed to do.