A central tenet of client centered work is that the client’s understanding of themselves and their lives is privileged over what the counselling professional may think or believe they ‘know’ about the client. The client is considered the expert in their lives.
This core idea can guide all aspects of our communications with our client. This includes the skill of affirming. When we focus on our client's ideas and knowledge of their strengths and positive qualities we are potentially opening up a powerful new aspect to this very helpful micro-skill. We are inviting co-creation and autonomy in affirming.
You may be able to hear the invitation for autonomy and co-creation in affirming in this quote from Motivational Interviewing 3rd ed :
‘The spirit of MI starts from a [….] strengths-focused premise, that people already have within them much of what is needed, and your task is to evoke it, to call it forth. The implicit message is ‘You have what you need, and together we will find it’ p21
Miller and Rollnick
So, in this issue we are exploring merging these two principal MI ideas:
Calling forth the client's knowledge and emphasising their autonomy (this reduces resistance and enhances empowerment in the change process)
Affirming our client's strengths (this increases hope and confidence to change)
Read on to discover more about this powerful skill mash up!