John Suler's Teaching Clinical Psychology
- Life Facts -
When discussing intake interviews and psychotherapy with my students, I point out that clients engage in a process of exploring their life story, usually at first by describing the most important "facts" about themselves.
For this exercise, I ask students to write down four important facts about themselves and their lives - things that have happened to them, information about their family, facts about their personality or their history, etc. (participation, as with all my exercises, is voluntary). I also ask them to include on that list one item that is a LIE.
Extra features for the exercise might involve asking students to add to the list: (1) something your parents said about how you were as a baby (to explore early, perhaps temperament-determined aspects of self), and/or; (2) something important about one of your parent's or grandparent's life (to explore identification issues and cross-generational issues in the development of self-identity)I then collect the papers and use the circulating papers technique so everyone gets a chance to give and receive feedback from several other students. I also instruct students, when reading other people's lists, to put a star next to the item in the list that they think is a lie.
Here are some issues we discuss about the exercise:
- Is there a pattern to the list of life facts?
- What does the list say about oneself?
- Could people determine which item was the lie?
- Is the lie meaningful and revealing of one's personality?
- Is there anything important MISSING from the list?
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