Faced with such powerful material, it is all too easy to be drawn into preoccupation with the story and the feelings associated with it. Although I have chosen a dramatic example, the personal revelations of avoidant clients who characteristically devalue their emotional lives, often have a compelling quality to them, even when the actual events revealed are more commonplace. However, the client’s story, although important in itself, shed light on Michael’s anxious attachment behaviour in his uncertainty about letting the probation officer get close to him, and in his unreliable pattern of reporting. It enables missed appointments to be understood, to have meaning, rather than be dismissed as the client’s ‘badness’ or indolence. Rather than getting stuck in discussions of a bleak and unchangeable past, the story can help the worker adapt more sensitively to the needs the client brings to their relationship, and create a more secure environment in which the client can reflect on his own behaviour and difficulties. It is not coincidental that Michael also used the long interview to show a developed understanding of the reasons for his violent offences.
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