Saturday, October 3, 2009

Working with the indecisive client.

At times clients present with the difficulty of not being able to make a decision about something. Life has offered them a fork in the road and they cannot decide which path to take. It may be to leave a job or stay, to move to another state or not, what course of study to take and so forth.

Of course the problem is not the actual decision but the psychological forces at work in the decision making process. In a decision about whether to do A or B there are actually three solutions.

1. Decide to do A

2. Decide to do B

3. Stay undecided or as it is called in psychotherapy - to stay stuck.

This child has made a decision why can’t some adults

Sometimes people can’t take solution 3 for very long because the circumstances mean a decision has to be made. For instance a new job is offered to you and you are given a month to decide. In this case one can make a decision by not making a decision. If the person remains undecided then they don’t take the new job. The decision is forced upon them and they don’t actually make any decision. Sometimes people can take solution 3 for many years such as in deciding to leave a marriage, or deciding to look for a new job or not.

So why would a person choose solution three? There could be a number of reasons.

They may have what is called a “stuck racket”. The person remains stuck or undecided and then agonises over and over about it. Here they are getting plenty of psychological strokes which we all need and it will also be proving to them some life script decision they made as a child. That early decision could have been something like, “Life is never easy”. They then set about establishing a life that is hard work and one way to do that is by agonising over decisions. This client needs to change the early decision and get their strokes in other ways.

Some people have what is called an “Always’ life script. This person was told by their parents - “Now you have made your bed you have to lie in it”. Once you have made a decision you have to live with it forever. As you can imagine this person will be very cautious about making big decisions because they have the view that they can’t change their mind later on. Which of course is a nonsense. This client needs the permission that it is OK to change their mind later on which of course one usually can.

There are times however when the decision is a one off and one cannot change their mind later, such as with a one time job offer. This raises another possible feature of the indecisive person. They think - “What if I make the wrong decision and regret it for the rest of my days”. I have always found this an odd sort of thought. This person needs to live in the Here & Now as the diagram shows. This person lives too much in the past rather than the Here & Now.

If I look back at my life in hindsight I can see that I made some bad decisions along the way but isn’t that the tapestry of life? What would my life be like if I had always made the right decision? However this is still missing the point. If I made the decision to go path A and in hindsight it probably would have been better to go path B what does that matter. I am now on path A and that means there will be whole set of life events and circumstances that are going to come my way. I have never been one to see the glass half empty, or to see if the neighbour’s grass is greener. It is a change in focus from regretting the past to looking at what one has now and what the future holds.

Some are indecisive because they have lost touch with their Free Child ego state. The Free Child knows what is the right decision to make. Those who are so shut off from that aspect of their personality can end up indecisive because they don’t get a feeling of what is the right decision. With such clients I sometimes flip a coin.

They have worked out all the pros and cons for decision A and decision B and they weigh up fairly equal. So the person remains undecided. I set the scene. I get out a coin and say heads is decision A and tails is decision B. By this time the client is wide eyed and feeling “Holy s**t my life is based on the flip of a coin!”.

The coin is flipped and it comes up heads so decision A it is. At that point sometimes the client will respond in one of two ways.

1. “Damn I wanted it to be tails!”

2. “Phew that’s a relief”

We have found out what decision the Free Child wanted.

Finally we have the indecisive client who is a dependent personality and basically wants me to make the decision for them. Do I make it for them? Watch this space.



  1. Hi Graffiti,

    what went through my mind reading this (in no particular order)

    1. Maybe there is a 4th solution? That is wanting something else! Oh, I guess that comes under soultion 3!

    2. I used to flip a coin three times if I couldnt make a decision. That way I really did find out what I wanted as it could turn into "best of 5" which meant I didnt like what the coin was telling me. In your terms, I found out what my FC wanted!

    3. I was always told "you made your bed, you have to lie in it."

    4. Actually I am not usually an indecisive person when I have to make a decision. The decision I spoke about is not actually a decision that is before me today, but potentially one in a few months time. And there are a few more elements than I actually spoke about.

    One of my big problems is that I dont live in the here and now in my head. And I take more responsibility on my shoulders which maybe I need to take. In that way I have become risk adverse; I am mrs responsibility. And I dont think I like it. Oh I know what my FC wants. But that doesnt mean she will get what she wants. Whats that other saying... "you cant have your cake and eat it."

  2. Bloody hell Kahless,

    Beds you have to lie in and cakes you cant eat!
    What is the world coming to.


    Get rid of that one my friend!!

    and how about some more FC. It gets cake and eats it as well.

    Over here in the ethnic channel all of a sudden we are getting games of soccer from the BundesLiga. What the heck is that!


  3. The flip of a coin is good Graffiti. One can then decide whether they feel worse with A or B."what they would miss most" in making A or B decision.

    I have heard that Libran star sign have probs making decisions.


  4. Hello Kenoath,

    I actually quite like that philosophy of life. At least at times make your decisions about life based on the flip of a coin. It has a lot to say for it living life that way.

    And those darn Librans, you just can't take them anywhere


  5. Oh my goodness! This was a lovely post. I'm so glad you're in the here and now with a future to boot! I really like that.

    My 'here and now' is full of assessments and Higher School Certificate supervisions. Yikes!

    Happy Tuesday my favourite friend.

  6. God, that "always" one sounds familiar. My father was like that - any time we'd try any new activity, there was NO QUITTING EVER. Needless to say, it sure was hard to take up an activity. My brother took up clarinet in the 4th grade, and was no good and hated it, but there was NO QUITTING. As it turned out, he simply quit, and kept going to school with the clarinet and without telling anyone at home he'd quit.

    Once I realized that, in fact, almost nothing in life was irreversible, a whole lot of things got a lot easier. But talk about a long-term fear of starting new things...

  7. Maybe Graffiti,it is the responsibility that is the one thing that keeps me hanging in after days like today.

  8. Well that is a good relization Sara.

    The reversibility of life decisions. I have always been a bit surprised how some really feel that once they have said yes they can't go away and think about it and decide to say "no".

    However good on your brother for taking his solution.


  9. Hello Kahless,

    I think you make a good point and there is nothing wrong with responsibility, I am like that with my kids.

    I think it is safe to say that most 'avarage' citizens in western societies take on too much responsibility. (An exception being the criminal population who don't take enough).

    It is what we call a Parent ego state contract. If one is hanging in because of responsibility then sooner or later the Child ego state is going to protest and some symptom will develop. If the Child is not invested in the hanging in, then watch out!!

    All the best


  10. Wow! Sara!
    I was so much like your brother! I remember leaving school (3rd term, year 11). Oh and HOW MUCH was I so over it all!! So at the end of the 3rd term i just simply went to the office and signed myself out and left school. We had 2 weeks holidays before we began term 4 which was the end of the scholastic year.

    When my parents found out... I can't remember when that was - probably close to the begining of term 4 - my mother went balistic! She commanded that i go back to school and finnish what i'd started. I simply said no (continuously mind you) and went for my usual horse ride.

    Geez! I was working in a band that was getting atleast 1 to 2 gigs every week, i'd met my husband and was to be engaged to him that christmas (but i guess mum and dad didn't know that either) - we'd been together for over 2 years by then.

    As it turned out, i was married and with our firsts son by the next christmas (1980) and that was that.

    Oh my poor parents. I sometimes wish i had not been quite such a strong willed child but I became just like them, and I guess getting what they themselves have given and now give (their society, their parents, even themselves) was not such a nice thing to have to live with and therefore admit.

    Gosh! I love them so much!! I'm just so grateful. Poor mum. She only had to endure the frustration for a year and I was off their hands.

    She had a stroke a while ago now and when i see her lying there I go up and give her a hug and whisper in her ear; 'I love you' and 'thanks mum'.

    She cries.

  11. Oh my goodness No! I remember that now. She told me to move out of home! That's right.

    So i packed a little bag and went to live with my boyfriend/now hubby. That's right! I remember it now.

    When my dad came to get me (mum had sent him to get me because dinner was ready - geez! of all things! Dinner was ready and getting cold?) I remember him saying that he thought i'd go and stay with my sister.

    They just didn't understand did they?

    Oh well, i picked up my little backpack and went home again. Kind of really weird but that's what happened.

    Life is actually (when I think of it now) so hallarious really. Gots ta luv it!

  12. Gosh! I'm seeing myself and how i react to ultimatums. To stay at home i had to go back to school, anything other than that i was to leave.

    So I left.

    But mum cooked the best food (she appologized) so i came home again.

    So weird!

  13. Oh my goodness Tony!

    The Games!

  14. Good for you roses to go and stay with the boyfriend rather than your sister. But you can't miss your dinner, especially if mum baked it!


  15. Dinner that night was the sweetest of all dinners (appologies) ever! I don't know what his flat mate was thinking. *Giggles* Poor guy, it was a one bedroom flat... And i snore!!

    We went down to visit my parents (my sister and I) today as a matter of fact. They seem to be doing so well in their new home. Well, so far they've survived having me as a daughter. Got to love them for that!

    I hope you are feeling well. And your face is smiling. Cheers... roses

  16. I am feeling well Roses,

    really good weather over here at the moment.
    I am sure his flatmate had other things on his mind and I don't believe you Roses that you snore


  17. I've heard myself. It woke me up!! Not a lot can wake me up but my snoring has done.

    I'm a bit sick today. Can't talk (except on here that is *giggles*) and i've got this really annoying little cough thing. It's the tiredness that bugs the bags out of me. I hate being sick! I avoid it like... well... the plague!

    It's so nice to hear that you're well. It's nice to be well!


  18. Umm...
    Does that mean that you're face isn't smiling?

    And do you mean that his poor flat mate was thinking that he may have to find some other alternative accomodation?

    Ohh the poor thing. I'm glad for him that i was only kicked out of home for a few hours! I hadn't thought of that! That would have been so yucky for him.

    When we're teens, things don't seem so... impacting to others does it?

    I have also been realising why being alive can be quite the 'not done thing'. Feelings happen. Not so nice feelings and really (and i mean) REALLY nice feelings happen. So annoying! They so get in the road you know?

    We had a sometimes sunny and very windy day over here today. But they say that it's going to rain again tomorrow. I've got so much study stuff to do - i hope i'm feeling well tomorrow.

    Nice when the weather's nice! That's nice.

    Nity nite!

  19. Oh! Before i hit the snorey land of nodd, i was wondering if you'd heard of 'remote viewing'?

    So bizzar that anyone would think that time is linnier (straight lines - can't spell linear? Actually that looks ok... linear) Whatever! If time was linear it wouldn't work.

    So... sometimes being clever makes people look not very clever at all? I'm so glad i'm not very clever or i'd probably think things like that too. Phew!

    Can you tell that i haven't talked very much today? My brain hasn't been able to leak any of the stuff out. I'm afraid that i'm on over load. Usually I talk to myself - a lot - so i can hear and determine what's going on in my head. Like anyone could tell what's going on in my head - least of all me!

    You said that you think a lot too. Thinking alot is good as long as you don't loose your voice so you can't hear what you're thinking i guess.

    Ohh... you write it down. Hmm, that's a good idea. I might give that a go.

    Nity night (for real this time *yawn* *stretch*)

  20. Tony?
    About remote viewing? It seems to me (though i've only just glanced at it) that it's simply psychic (or what I would call 'prophetic' or even as simple as 'discernment') stuff. Except they're turning it into a science of some sort.

    Isn't that cute!

    Just like psychology, some psychologists like the craft to be 'scientific' where as others don't i suppose. It will probably be the same with this lot too.

    You know what? What's worse out of all this stuff, is that it probably doesn't matter either way. So strange huh? Sad too.

    Happy Saturday to you for the morrow. Here it's all about rain, rain and more rain!