To connect with our clients we must model vulnerability


I believe that wonderful things happen when we step outside our comfort zone and do things that scare us, when we’re brave and allow ourselves to be vulnerable.

There was recently a discussion on twitter about SLTs presenting a calm exterior even when we’re panicking or out of control on the inside. We all know this feeling! It got me thinking, we need to present ourselves in a way that inspires confidence in the people we work with. We also need to bring our vulnerability to work – and not worry about people seeing our uncertainty. It’s hard and something I continue to struggle with.

When I assess, diagnose and carry out therapy it’s detective work, it’s uncertain, I don’t know what I’ll find or how clients will respond — it’s one reason why I love it! I need to be honest with my clients and colleagues; I set hypotheses based on my clinical experience and the research evidence, then I test them. If I don’t get the results I want, I tweak, pivot, or try something else completely, it’s all part of the process.

I can’t answer questions like: how long will therapy take? (Although I wish I could!) I don’t know. And that’s okay. By modelling vulnerability I can support families. I’m asking them to try new things, it’ll be hard and there’ll be challenges. To support people through the therapy process I need to connect with them, I can’t connect with them if at the same time I’m trying to hide from them. I need to model taking off my armour (Brené Brown explores this in her wonderful book Daring Greatly) and being fully myself.

Karen McGrane wrote an amazing piece on this theme for the online magazine A List Apart. She’s  a Content Strategy Consultant so writes from a different perspective and yet it really resonates with me. She’s an inspiration. Check it out. Warning: Karen uses strong language in the article, it works. For her explanation of why, see comment 29.

I’ve been thinking about how parents see speech and language therapy because at the end of the month I’ll leave my NHS role and move into independent practice. I’m scared, and way outside of my comfort zone (with the business side of things!) I know I need to demonstrate to parents that they can trust me, I hope by being vulnerable I can also show them that we’ll be learning from each other.

For more on vulnerability check out  Brené Brown’s TEDx talk: The power of vulnerability.

3 thoughts on “To connect with our clients we must model vulnerability

  1. Bryony Rust

    Great things do happen out of the comfort zone! I think honesty and vulnerability do inspire trust in others. Along with that, I’m trying to cultivate resilience, bouncing back and learning from my inevitable mistakes! So excited to hear about your venture in to independent practice. Wishing you every success!

  2. Pingback: Reflecting on 3 months of independence: trying to be myself | Therapy Ideas Blog by Rhiannan Walton

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