If therapy is a talking cure, why is there so much silence in it?
The professional therapist and patient can answer this no problem. Sometimes, however, it’s forgotton that not every patient is up with the play. It’s a bit like infantile amnesia where adults forget what it’s like to be a child.
What happens in the therapy room is weird* and the non-knowledgeable client is right to be mystified, frustrated, even frightened by an inscrutable one-who-is-presumed-to-know.
A brief quote:
She stares at me silently. For some strange reason, she always expects that I will be the first to talk. For an even stranger reason, I continually refuse her quiet request to take the lead.
The key here is that the client does not know why the therapist is silent (“for some strange reason”).
Clients need to be taught what therapy is like – otherwise the reistance is likely to be too huge to overcome (unless the client is very compliant in which case his or her fitting in well is precisely the problem),
It’s not enough to say ‘It’s all grist for the mill’ if the grist never finds its way into the mill.
* Other weirdenesses: payment (for missed sessions), payment (full stop), the limits of the frame, therapist non-disclosure…. All of these things are there for good reasons, but the client isn’t to know or immediately accept them. (Also, it’s not a bad a idea for therapists themselves to think these through now and then.)