What should the therapist do?

by Peg
(Chicago)

The patient / client starts sobbing uncontrollably during a session, to the extent that they appear to have difficulty talking and breathing. What is the suggested response from the therapist?


Ben's Answer:

There is no single "right" answer to this. Depends on the therapist's style, orientation, and relationship with the client.

It would probably be good to say a few gentle words of reassurance - that "it's ok to let yourself feel this...." and "It's better to just feel it and not try to analyse or explain your feelings right now..."

Then they should just be present, compassionate and patient, without taking the client into some intellectual zone and over-talking the situation.

Once things calm down, you (the client) could attempt to describe the feelings, how it feels in the body, what thoughts are triggering the feelings. The therapist should gently guide and support the client in doing this.


At that point, for me, I would suggest we use EFT to resolve any remaining emotional pain (which tends to bring about a lot of insight, clarity and relief, when done effectively).

Best wishes,
Ben Schwarcz, MFT
Santa Rosa Psychotherapist











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