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Who Holds The Door Handle?

Who Holds The Door Handle? by Jane Thurnell-Read


Yes, this is an odd question, but it does have important implications for bringing a session to an end. I'll get back to the door handle in a minute, but first let's look at some strategies that alternative medicine therapists can use for ending sessions, and managing clients.

Many therapists have difficulty bringing a session to an end, because they don't want to upset the client, but it's also important for your own sanity that you don't let sessions just run and run out of your control.

If you have another client/patient waiting, the process is relatively simple, because you can bring the session to an end by indicating that someone is waiting.

Unfortunately it's not always that easy. One of the most effective ways of ending a session is to reduce the amount you look at a client, and reduce the amount of auditory and visual cues (e.g. head nodding, making agreeing noises etc.) that you give that indicate you are listening. If you do this suddenly, it can seem rude, but if you gradually reduce all of these over a 3-4 minute period, clients will often bring what they were saying to an end without being aware that you have been influencing them.

A really important rule of thumb is that you must get to the door first and put your hand on the door handle/knob. If you have your hand on the door handle/knob, it makes it easier for you to guide the client gently out, but if the client is holding the door handle it is much more difficult to get them out of your office.

Of course, sometimes sessions do need to over-run, and sometimes people will tell you valuable information just as they are leaving - one of my clients blurted out that she had been sexually abused as a child, just as she was going out of the door; she had spent the whole session plucking up the courage to tell me - but some clients just enjoy talking about themselves in a way that is neither healthy for them nor healthy for the therapist.

The theory and practice of homeopaths, chiropractors, kinesiologists etc. can be very different, but all therapists have to have ways of bringing sessions to an end that do not upset clients.

Copyright 2007 Jane Thurnell-Read

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