What’s The Difference
In the 1991 movie The Doctor, William Hurt played a MD who goes to see a colleague about a recurring sore throat. After the test come back, Hurt’s character is told that he has throat cancer.
In that moment of denial and frustration Hurt’s character says, “All I have is a sore throat. Can’t you just give me something so it stops hurting?”
Felt needs are the sore throat. They are immediate and painful and disruptive and need to be addressed. But the real needs are the underlying issues that cause the felt needs.
Real needs are the the cancer.
3 Reasons To Fix The Felt Needs
While most counselors are trained to get to the root of the problem, if the felt needs are forgotten, you may never get the chance to work on the important stuff. Here’s why…
Even though it is just a symptom, symptoms still hurts. Being able to take the edge off of your client’s pain gives them a needed break. And when they are not in acute pain, they will be able to make better choices and decisions as well as process their emotions better.
It’s okay to take some major strength Tylenol for the tooth ache while you’re waiting to see the dentist.
Validating Their Experience
Your client will feel dismissed and invalidated when you tell them “your tooth ache isn’t the problem.” They know for a fact that the last three days have been miserable because of that tooth and nothing you say can change that.
Clients are turning to you for empathy first and solutions second. Without giving the empathy and validation, you will never gain an audience to offer them solutions.
When you convey to them that you understand what they’re going through they will find it easier to trust you. They will see you as competent, not because of the degree hanging on your wall, but because you listened to them and offered them some real solutions to their immediate pain.
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