I had dinner with a psychotherapist last night and asked him basically the same question. I just love hearing the nuts and bolts of how people do their jobs.
He’d told a story about how he’d screwed up a minor detail and how the result was that for the first time a client started asking about his life.
The detail was simply: he showed up to his office after the client had already arrived in the waiting room. So, he was on time for the session, but late for his goal of “already being in the session room.”
The result was that the client started asking him things like “How are you?” and “You look winded?”
Which is sort of innocuous, but also changes the dynamic he’d carefully crafted.
When I asked him whether he was going to do anything with the change, he said, it was actually a good opportunity to ask back, “You seem to curious about how I’m doing today. Tell me about that.”
I’m not going to do justice to his reasoning for generally keeping such a strict boundary.
But it felt like he was working one side of the spectrum.
I used an executive coach for years who used the other side. I think he saw his primary role as helping me look at the world differently, basically to help me reframe my view so that I could see new decisions or areas for growth.
And his method used many stories, many of which involved himself. I talked to one of his other clients later who had a great observation: “You know many of his stories aren’t true. But the great thing is that that doesn’t matter. What matters is if you see the world differently.”
I later got to work alongside this coach and so my view is that his method was effective but also created a lot of extra work to maintain boundaries because he’d shared so much more of himself.