Psycho-Babble Psychology Thread 394354

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awkward sliences

Posted by Annierose on September 23, 2004, at 22:11:13

In previous post, cubic brought up the subject of these notorious awkward pauses. How do you deal with them? Do you wait for the T to ask you a question? And how long before you break the silence yourself? I hate when she asks, "what are you thinking about?" -Annie

 

Re: awkward silences Annierose

Posted by gardenergirl on September 23, 2004, at 22:16:19

In reply to awkward sliences, posted by Annierose on September 23, 2004, at 22:11:13

I don't know what to say about his, because I am such a talker, I don't think there's ever been a silence of longer than say, a minute. But I have been on the other end of them with clients. It's hard for me to wait, especially if my mind is working on the client's problem. But I try. Silences are important sometimes. Although too much makes it really hard to do therapy.

What would you prefer your T to do when you are quiet? If you don't mind me asking...

Warmly,
gg

 

Re: awkward sliences

Posted by Klokka on September 23, 2004, at 22:58:10

In reply to awkward sliences, posted by Annierose on September 23, 2004, at 22:11:13

Most of the time I wait for my pdoc to say something. For some reason I feel really odd just jumping in with whatever's on my mind during a silence even though I realize there's nothing wrong with that - it just feels like I'm interrupting him somehow. I break the silence whenever my desire to say something, anything surpasses the awkwardness.

I hate the "what are you thinking?" question, too. My former pdoc used to ask that all the time (and said little else) and, since her office overlooked the highway, the answer was almost always "dang, my bus just passed by." I don't remember if my current pdoc's asked that, though I probably wouldn't know how to respond - when we're not talking, my mind just tends to drift off and it's hard to put my thoughts into words.

 

Re: awkward silences

Posted by daisym on September 24, 2004, at 1:20:37

In reply to Re: awkward sliences, posted by Klokka on September 23, 2004, at 22:58:10

We have more silences now but they aren't so awkward. Mostly I'm usually just lost in a memory or searching for words. I've expressed that silence is hard for me, it feels threatening if it goes too long. So he will ask, "where did you go?" which is better than "what are you thinking?" I think. The other typical silence breakers are: "tell me what you're feeling, even if it is just single words." That way I don't have to try to make complete sentences and/or he'll quietly say, "just keep breathing and try and come back into your body." I guess it is more obvious when I drift away.

I will say, "I need you to say something" and he almost always will tell me what he is thinking. Or he will say, "I'm giving you some space, but I'm still here. Does it feel like I've moved away?"

I'm glad he isn't rigid about me breaking the silence, or making me go first. Can you tell this is sensitive subject for me? He really does respect that so many bad things happened in silence that I have an almost automatic need to fill it up or space out. Once in a great while he will let me struggle in silence without a question to answer. But he will (finally) acknowledge that he is doing that and ask if I need him to help me (save me!) if I just can't form a sentence.

 

Re: awkward silences

Posted by cubic_me on September 24, 2004, at 6:07:55

In reply to Re: awkward silences, posted by daisym on September 24, 2004, at 1:20:37

Firstly, yay! somebody reads my posts!

Ok, so now on to the awkward silences bit. As you could tell from my post, these are often an issue for me with my T. If things go silent for a while we often do this looking down then looking up and half smiling at each other, like we know what's going on. If it goes on longer I'll either ask her what she's thinking or comment on some feature of her room I've been noticing (yesterday it was a strange bit of a painting).

Silences don't tend to be helpful for me, I just drift off into a world of nothingness. But in a semi-complementary way T sometimes says that she just needs some time to take in what I have just said and that my brain must work faster than hers does! Really it's just that I don't have the energy to think.

 

Re: awkward sliences Klokka

Posted by Annierose on September 24, 2004, at 6:35:58

In reply to Re: awkward sliences, posted by Klokka on September 23, 2004, at 22:58:10

Yes, sometimes that is what I'm thinking ... "there's lots of traffic out there today". I'm just trying to relax, listening to the noise of the city, nothing specific.

 

Re: awkward silences daisym

Posted by Annierose on September 24, 2004, at 6:38:14

In reply to Re: awkward silences, posted by daisym on September 24, 2004, at 1:20:37

I like your response, "I need you to say something". I think I will try that. Thank you. It feels perfect.

 

Re: awkward silences gardenergirl

Posted by Annierose on September 24, 2004, at 6:42:09

In reply to Re: awkward silences Annierose, posted by gardenergirl on September 23, 2004, at 22:16:19

gg-
Good question. I'll need time to think about that. I like DaisyM's answer, "I need you to say something." Oftentimes, I am lying down, so I can't see her expressions. There are less awkward pauses when I sit up.

 

Re: awkward sliences

Posted by antigua on September 24, 2004, at 8:02:37

In reply to awkward sliences, posted by Annierose on September 23, 2004, at 22:11:13

My T is the "where did you go?" type, which drives me crazy at times. Sometimes I just want her to be quiet while I try to feel what's going on and if she talks she will break it. Sometimes I think drifting off is a good thing, but when I head down that black tunnel I usually break the silence myself. Why can't I learn to "sit with my feelings?", another phrase that drives me crazy.
good thread,
antigua

 

Re: awkward sliences -I pay for this?

Posted by Speaker on September 24, 2004, at 9:04:42

In reply to Re: awkward sliences, posted by antigua on September 24, 2004, at 8:02:37

I will wait for a bit and then I ask "what are you thinking"...he usually answers. Once in a while he will say the...your mind goes faster than mine and I'm just thinking about what you just said. Unfortunately, if more than a minute goes buy I think of the $2.00 a minute its costing me for nothingness...I know it isn't the best therapy motivator :).

 

Re:I pay for this?(nm) LOL :) ... i think that too (nm) Speaker

Posted by Annierose on September 24, 2004, at 12:08:27

In reply to Re: awkward sliences -I pay for this?, posted by Speaker on September 24, 2004, at 9:04:42

 

You are a riot! :) (nm) Speaker

Posted by Aphrodite on September 24, 2004, at 12:32:11

In reply to Re: awkward sliences -I pay for this?, posted by Speaker on September 24, 2004, at 9:04:42

 

Re: awkward sliences

Posted by mair on September 24, 2004, at 14:36:26

In reply to awkward sliences, posted by Annierose on September 23, 2004, at 22:11:13

I think I'm the queen of awkward silences although I've gotten better. Generally the silences are created because I don't want to say what's on my mind or I need to sanitize it first. Sometimes if I don't really want to say what I'm thinking, my mind will start racing so I can't hold onto any one thought long enough to verbalize it.

My T used to jump in probably too soon I think because she was trying to make things less awkward for me. Or I'd stop talking sort of mid-thought, and she'd try to finish the thought for me, usually incorrectly. This made me think of my husband's perennial complaint that I finish his sentences for him. It also worried me that she was guessing wrong too much of the time.

Now she's more likely to wait me out, because we've decided I'm more likely to get around to saying whatever I need to. But I've also gotten better about letting her know when I'm thinking about something I really don't want to verbalize or I really can't verbalize. Sometimes she'll ask me to free associate which never works because if I'm too guarded to talk, I'm too guarded to free associate.

She doesn't usually ask me what I'm thinking although sometimes she'll encourage me to just go ahead and say it. When I'm stuck and I let her know I'm stuck, we'll talk alot about why I can't verbalize something. This is strange because we're both talking around a topic only I know what it is and she can only guess at what it is. It seems to work fairly well because it gets me away from the awkwardness of not talking, and sometimes it gives me the time to come at it a different way.

Mair

 

Re: awkward sliences Annierose

Posted by Poet on September 24, 2004, at 17:09:28

In reply to awkward sliences, posted by Annierose on September 23, 2004, at 22:11:13

Hi Annierose,

I often wonder how theraputic it is when I spend most of a session staring at her, my feet or trying to see the clock. I usually just mumble that I don't want to talk about this, and she backs off and asks what I do want to talk about. Eventually it'll get back to the original issue, but slowly which is what I need.

Poet

 

Re: awkward sliences....I know them too well

Posted by shrinking violet on September 24, 2004, at 19:07:33

In reply to Re: awkward sliences Klokka, posted by Annierose on September 24, 2004, at 6:35:58

I'm the queen of silence. :(

My poor T...she doesn't know how to deal with me, really. She's a college T, so she's basically used to a lot of blather from clients. It's VERY hard for me to open up. I have a lot of issues around talking and not talking (a childhood stutter, the "children should be seen and not heard" mentality, etc). Most times, I have no idea what I'm supposed to say or talk about, or that what I'll say is stupid, or that it isn't what my T wants me to say, or (most often) I can't put what I feel into words (because I have no idea), and most of the issues I should be talking about are ones I very much want to leave alone. My mind goes blank too, a lot, at least when it comes to the deep stuff.

My T is great about talking....although she does it a bit too much sometimes. I've dubbed them "mini-speeches" and recently I've told her my thoughts on them, and we had a good laugh over it. She still does it, but now she catches herself and says "oops I'm doing a mini-speech!" Sometimes she'll ask me specific questions, which are most helpful. I wish I knew how to make her job easier, though. *sigh* We're working on reading a book together now, so hopefully that will help some.

I wish I could be of more help. Just know you aren't alone.

 

Re: awkward silences umm... gardenergirl

Posted by just plain jane on September 27, 2004, at 18:17:35

In reply to Re: awkward silences Annierose, posted by gardenergirl on September 23, 2004, at 22:16:19

silence...

what is silence?

;-D

 

Re: awkward silences umm... just plain jane

Posted by gardenergirl on September 27, 2004, at 22:33:35

In reply to Re: awkward silences umm... gardenergirl, posted by just plain jane on September 27, 2004, at 18:17:35

The only thing I can think of is that it's the time that I fill up while my hubby thinks. We definitely are not compatible debaters.

Otherwise, I have no idea. :)

gg


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