Workshops on Psychotherapy Process


It has become extremely clear that the most important factor influencing the outcome of psychotherapy is not the modality used. It is the alliance between therapist and client - which is largely determined by process issues.

In these workshops and talks we focus on process and how to enhance it for maximal therapy impact. “Process Made Simple” is a full- or half-day workshop. “One Hour,” discussed below, is a 90-120 minute presentation.

Process Made Simple

What are the conditions for therapeutic change?

Calling them “nonspecific factors” is a misnomer. The name makes them sound ethereal, atmospheric, untrainable. But all the term means is that these factors are not specific to a particular type of therapy.

In fact, many of the factors associated with therapeutic excellence are very specific, down-to-earth, trainable behaviours.

Our cherished techniques, be they from CBT, ACT, STDP, or any other model, are irrelevant without the context of an effective working alliance. By taking charge of the manner in which we interact with clients and the way we run a therapy session, we can boost our results and help our clients make more progress in less time.
Workshop contents:

Conducting a change-focussed intake
  • Identifying goals
  • Putting the client in the driver’s seat
  • Assuming the role of consultant

Making the transition to therapy
  • Allowing the client to convince us
  • Making a useful invitation
  • Enhancing motivation

The session, moment by moment
  • The thirty second agenda
  • Prioritizing the hour’s tasks
  • Making homework completion likely

  • Stop nodding!
  • Closed-ended questions are useful!
  • Reflecting: Emotion or content?

  • Marking out your big messages
  • When to metacomment
  • To self-disclose or not?
  • Shifting from pathology to strength

Monitoring our effectiveness
  • Getting feedback EVERY session
  • Useful alliance measures
  • Integrating feedback into the work
  • Learning to distrust our instincts

Coping with resistance
  • Process resistance vs outcome resistance
  • Welcoming and reinforcing resistance
  • How to “stay in your seat”
  • Why resistance says more about us than the client

“This should be offered as standard in graduate programs” - Feedback from a participant.

This program is designed to be offered as a one-day workshop, but can also be adapted to a half-day.

Participants receive presentation slide handouts plus a set of worksheets to help them apply the principles in their own practices.

One Hour: Therapeutic Etiquette

There are 168 hours in a client’s week, but only one of them will usually be spent with a therapist. How do we leverage that one hour to have the greatest impact?

In this presentation we start the clock ticking as the workshop begins, and discuss specific tasks to be completed in each section of the encounter - starting before the client even enters the office.

The emphasis is on extremely concrete strategies that cross therapeutic modalities. The belief behind the workshop is that therapist warmth and the quality of the alliance are the product of specific micro-behaviours that many of us ignore, preferring to focus on the intervention strategies we plan to use. The result is that many encounters are less satisfying and less powerful than they could otherwise be.

Examples of topics covered:

  • The waiting area as therapeutic space.
  • Re-staging the office before every session.
  • What to do if the client is late.
  • How to bring the client into the office.
  • When to ask about the week.
  • Agenda setting.
  • Avoiding “problem-of-the-week therapy.”
  • Structuring a session.
  • The “ten-minutes-left” rule.
  • The plan review.

This talk works best as a 90- or 120-minute presentation. Participants receive slide handouts.