How Can you Tell If A Client Is Being Honest?

Posted by Elliott Connie - June 16, 2019 - Solution Focused Therapy - No Comments

During a recent coaching call in one of my courses one pot the participants posed this question. It sparked a great discussion and was on my mind in the subsequent few days and inspired this video. From the Solution Focused perspective, there are 2 keys. That’s what this video is about.

This past week we had one of the coaching calls for the brief international online certificate program and during one of the coaching calls, one of the participants in this course ask do really, really good question. That comes up a lot about how do you know when a client is lying to you? And it sparked a really, really good discussion and it really has gotten me thinking over the past few days since that call. I’ve been thinking about this idea of how you know when your, when your client is lying to you. So I decided to make this video and I want to say I want to make two things very, very clear. Um, so the first point I want to make about how do you know when your client is lying to you is we don’t, we have to assume that everything the client is saying they say for a good reason and they’re saying for a purpose that matters to them.

The only thing we can do as psychotherapists is we can use
their language, use their words in the way we construct our questions in the
solution focused approach. I’m not assessing my client. So I’m asking questions
for the benefit of the client to hear their answers. I’m not asking questions
so that I can hear the answer, make some sort of assessment and do something
with the answer. The only thing I want to do with the client’s answer is use it
in the construction of another question. So let me give you an example. Let me
tell you what I mean. So a few years ago working with a couple and uh, I asked
this a couple of the best hosts from our talking and the couple told me that
they wanted to work on, uh, getting along better. And uh, so we did a session
that was all about this couple, like getting along better.

Uh, they came back for a followup session. Um, so what’s
been better? And they told, we talked about what’s been better and we had
another session with getting along better. And then before the third session I
got a phone call or a text message from the husband and the couple that said, I
hope you’re ready for today’s session. And I thought, well, that’s a strange thing.
And when the couple showed up, I mean they were, it was very clear that there
was emotional, they’d been crying this time. I said, what are you best hold
from our talking today? And they said that, uh, the wife has been drinking and
she’d been drinking for several years and the first two sessions were them. Uh,
just seeing if I was a good enough therapist to help them with their real
problem. So, I mean that might sound strange, but that actually happened and
they were answering my questions for their own purpose.

And it’s not my job. It’s not my business to entertain
whether or not the client has given me the right answer. I just have to treat
every single answers if it’s valuable because every single answer my client
gave me for particular purpose and it’s just my duty to use their answer in the
construction of my questions. So I hope that makes sense. Cause I think
sometimes we ask a question, we think it’s our job to like figure out the
deeper meaning of the client’s answer or to do something with it. And it’s not
guys, it’s really just important that we take the client’s words and we use
them to formulate our next question moving towards the desired outcome that the
client stated that they wanted. The second thing I want to say is remember, so
I just said that we ask questions for the benefit of the client hearing their
responses, not necessarily for me.

I’m asking questions with the client, can hear themselves
say things. And there’s an interesting thing about a lie. So if I ask a
question, um, if I say, what are you best? So from our talking, even if you say
out loud something that’s untruthful, your brain’s still had to formulate the
right answer in order to make the decision to say something that is incongruent
to the right answer. Right? So let me say that again. I hope that makes sense.
So if I ask a question and it doesn’t matter what the question is, like, what
did you eat for dinner today? If I don’t want to, if I don’t want to admit that
I had a deep fried chicken and ice cream before, I can tell a fib and say, oh,
I had salad. My brain is first going to be aware of what the accurate answer

So I can formulate an incongruent answer to that accuracy.
So in a weird way, lies don’t ever happen because if I’m asking questions for
the client’s benefit, the answer is still residing in the client’s head. And as
we build sessions, that answer becomes more relevant. And I also like to that
point, I learned something so important from a client one day who told me, uh,
you’re very difficult to lie to. This is like a 30 year old guy said you’re
very difficult to lie to. And I said, how come? And he said, because I have no
idea why you’re asking us the questions you’re asking. I don’t know where
you’re headed. And in order to tell a lie, I have to know what you’re after. So
I could give a response that would lead you away from what you’re after. But
since I don’t know what you’re after, it’s very difficult to formulate a

Not another client telling me that I was very difficult to
lie to and I said, how come? And he said, because you only use my answers in
your questions. And it makes me feel very, very safe because if I don’t want to
talk about something, just don’t bring it up. And if I do want to talk about
it, bring it up in the way I want to talk about it. And over the course of time
it makes me feel more safe and comfortable and there is no need to be
dishonest. And I think those are really, really valuable lessons. But what I
want you to take away from this video is it’s not my job trying to figure out
whether or not the client is telling the truth or not. It’s my job to ask the
best questions I can using the client’s responses and trust the process.
Because the question is for the client. The answer is for the client to here,
not me. So thank you for watching this video. Please like, share, subscribe to
my Youtube Channel, head on over to and check out all the
videos and free resources I have there and I will see you in the next video.