Monday, March 3, 2014

Emotional Breakdown...The Good Kind

DEARMAN is an acronym for a technique therapists can use to guide a client through breaking down their behavior.  Here is what the acronym stands for:

Describe the situation
Express how you feel about it,
Ask for what you want, and
Reinforce the other person.
being Mindful
Appearing confident
be willing to Negotiate

To use this effectively, first consider your relationship with your client.  It would be beneficial to have a rapport with this client.  Let's say an adult enters your office and they seem rushed and slightly irritated.  You ask if everything is okay.  They say they had an argument with their spouse this morning and felt as though they were talking to a brick wall.  They were explaining how they have felt disconnected as their spouse busily straightened the house.  When your client asked if their spouse was still listening their spouse responded, "of course."  You ask how things were left.  Your client said that nothing had been accomplished.  At this point, ask your client about what they would have wanted to happen.  Let's assert that the client answers, "I would just like to be listened to, but I'm done arguing...I don't have the energy."  Using DEARMAN in this situation would be helpful because your client has intense emotion around this situation.  The situation was clearly Described.  It is now time to encourage your client to refine what they want.  "To be listened to" is a great start, but often people have varying ideas of what this means.  Coach your client through forming a clear idea of what being listened means to them.  Encourage them to directly Ask their spouse to listen in the way you and your client discussed.  Then talk about the importance of your client Reinforcing their spouse when they observe any change in behavior.  To foster Mindfulness, guide your client through developing a deeper awareness of their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.  "Appearing confident" does not just mean drawing on a false sense of self-assurance, but instead fostering conviction that you know what you are doing and how to do it.  So, help your client to feel truly confident about asserting themselves.  And last, encourage your client by reminding them Negotiation does not  equate to giving in.

Technique was developed by Marsha Linehan, PhD.  Please visit her website for more information.

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