BLOG POST: When words aren’t enough: Silence in therapy

I’m going to go ahead and reveal a secret that therapists have: Sometimes we don’t know what to say.

Are you surprised to hear that therapists, who spend all day talking to people, are sometimes stymied by language? After all, you’re probably thinking of seeing a counselor in hopes that he or she can offer some advice or perspective about your situation, or at least listen attentively. You may even feel uncomfortable at the thought of sitting with another person in silence.

Therapists, like all humans, don’t always know what to say. And sometimes we intentionally choose to say nothing, because the most appropriate response, especially to a story of harm or grief, might be no response. Counseling encompasses much more than just language. Sometimes both you and the therapist need a minute to just sit together and absorb a new truth, or an important emotion that has arisen, or even a beautiful moment. People who go to therapy often report that the moments of silence were actually the most profoundly healing.

I often tell my clients that we learn most of what we know before age 2. Then we learn to speak. This means that the truths we hold most deep within us cannot be accessed through language… an ironic belief for a talk therapist. And so, therapy is often the painstaking work of building the bridge between knowledge and language. And where the bridge cannot be built because the banks are too far apart or the cliff face too precarious to begin construction, we might just sit quietly for a minute or two, and trust. What is therapy? Sometimes it’s asking another to quietly sit on the edge of your terror, confusion, and uncertainty, with you.

Hutchison, MA Christine

Christine Hutchison, MA

Marriage and Family Therapy Intern, IMF 68274
415.617.5131

Supervised by Debra Warshaw Taube, M.A., LMFT, MFC 29304

Therapy with me is empowering, relational, deep, and often irreverent. Grounded in my own Intersectional Feminist worldview, my style as a therapist focuses not just on symptom relief (though that is the first goal), but on identifying and creating the self (for couples, the love and relationship) that you ultimately wish to contribute to the world. This is your life, after all, and I do not take that lightly.

Many of my clients have been adult children of Narcissistic (self-absorbed), Borderline (emotionally volatile), or Alcoholic parents. Many have also been harmed in their past by religious institutions, heteronormativity, racism, and/or patriarchy. As a Christian seminary graduate, I specialize in working with shifts in faith/worldview, in individuals and couples. My clients exist everywhere on the faith spectrum, from those who want to integrate faith in God into their therapy, to those who have totally rejected former beliefs. I also work with shared-faith couples and interfaith couples (including one a-religious/agnostic partner). Lastly, therapists-in-training are very welcome in my practice.

The best way to determine if we’re a good match is to call for a free 15-minute phone consultation. I look forward to hearing from you!

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