Silence can be a very interesting and powerful therapeutic tool. Anyone who may have never participated in counseling, and who isn’t familiar with the benefits of internally processing, might feel uncomfortable with this at first. I’d love to review the positives of this tool, and expound on what it means to internally, or even externally, process within the context of therapy.
How powerful silence can be
As a therapist, I use the therapeutic tool of silence often. It helps people internalize and think through their thoughts and feelings. If your therapist is comfortable sitting in silence, then after a while, it prompts you to speak first in session. This is helpful as it usually lets you speak from the heart, as opposed to being asked leading questions to what is important to you.
If you’re an internal processor, it allows you to sort through your thoughts and feelings, whereas if you are an external processor, it might be uncomfortable and hard for you to sit in silence. I would encourage you to allow yourself to feel uncomfortable and think about why it is you are feeling uncomfortable in silence. This might lead to some interesting answers and dialogues about yourself and things that are going on in your life.
Different ways to process silence
Internal Processors can be more comfortable with silence and might need the quiet space to organize their thoughts. They might also find it difficult seeing through a train of thought without time to review their own inner dialogue. If this is you, then don’t feel like you have to give your therapist an answer right away. They will give you the space you need to be able to think and process.
External Processors might be less comfortable with breaks in conversation and silence. They may benefit from processing thoughts and feelings out loud. This scenario for someone may feel like, “As I’m speaking out loud, I am finding footing of my inner dialogue through the conversational process”. Both are okay, and your therapist might challenge you to process not only in your preferred method, but also switching to whatever feels less natural. This challenge may get you thinking/processing more in general.
Practicing both methods here is like learning a new instrument. The end goal is to feel more adept to do this well. If you’re someone who is learning feelings, then the faster you can pinpoint your emotions, you are able to process and address them quicker!!!!!!!!!
Ask for space
It’s always okay to be able to ask your therapist for space to think and process about a question that was asked. These statements to your therapist can look like, “That’s a good question and I need a second to think about it.” Or, you could also say, “I’m having a hard time identifying my emotions, I need a moment to process.”
For the opposite side with external processors, you have the authority to ask for assistance or even a clarifying question. These statements to your therapist could look like, “I’m not sure what you mean, can you rephrase that?” Or, you can also ask, “I’d like to write out a few points to collect my thoughts.” Here at Optimum Joy, we like to utilize whiteboards in the therapy rooms for clients who like to visualize or write things out.
If you are currently looking for a therapist then a therapist, including myself, is here to help and talk with you. If you are already in therapy, then I would also like to encourage you to ask your therapist for space. This is great if you need time to think and even to practice internally and eternally processing different situations instead of just using your default! Don’t be afraid to ask for help, call today!
Written by therapist Alex Parlette
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