Implied communication in psychotherapy

At my webinair yesterday we discussed the two theories of life script formation. The electrode theory and the decisional theory. The decisional theory of course was originally presented by Bob and Mary Goulding. Our discussions led me to think more about the topic especially in how it relates to psychotherapy today.

The Gouldings first book was titled – The power is in the patient. That is a interesting title and was truly reflective of their philosophy and approach. In their therapy they openly stated this but even more influential, it was implied in the how they worked and what they believed. Of course all therapies have this, assumptions about people and indeed human nature in general. These implied assumptions one could say are especially potent in effecting how people think and feel and behave because in essence it is an ever present ulterior transaction. It is just expected you will be like that – a potent form of communication I think one could say.

In decisional theory of the script matrix it is the son or daughter who decide via the A1 what life script decisions they will have.

Mother and father can say and do all sorts of different things to the child – good and bad – those actions tell the youngster if he is OK or not OK. But it is ultimately the youngster who chooses whether to accept or not accept that psychological message. That is a very empowering thing to say to a client and has implied as an ulterior transaction in your overall therapeutic approach. “You are in charge of your life”.


If we try to make people safe what are the psychological consequences



Of course psychotherapies ultimately just reflect the values of the overall society in which they  currently exist. As society changes psychotherapies will change and that has happened in my life time. One could say that current western governments hold the position that it is their job to make people safe. This has probably always been the case for some societies but at the moment it has reached new heights. Occupational health and safety has never been so highlighted these days and to do just about anything you have to have some kind of training and certification. We must make sure that whenever any person seeks a service or help from another person we must make sure that person will do the right thing and at the very least not hurt the person. From getting a hair cut to hiring a financial planner. Certainly when it comes to the health services this is the case. Endless lists of professional practice guidelines and statement of ethics now are prominent in any training system. Therapists are repeatedly told about things like giving the client full informed consent and so on.

It is not my intention to discuss the pros and cons of this at a society level but to look at what is being said to clients today by psychotherapists. Not only what is being said openly said but more importantly what is being implied in the therapy approach. What is being unconsciously communicated to the client by the therapist’s overall approach. In my view one of the things that is being communicated unconsciously is – “I will make sure you are safe”. This is being implicitly said to clients in many current day psychotherapies. Is that going help empower a client? – I will make sure you are safe.

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2 Responses to “Implied communication in psychotherapy”

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  1. Suriya says:

    That’s the question I’ve been sitting with of late, Tony. I ask myself ‘in the name of protection am i discounting my clients’ capacity for autonomy?’ Not an easy answer. … am exploring. … your blog gave more energy to this. Thank you got stimulating this at a deeper level.

    • Tony White says:

      Thank you Suriya for your comments. I think at this time often we over protect the client and don’t give them enough chnace to use their own resilience

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