Published in “Inviting reflexivity into the therapy room how therapists think in practice?” Kuenzli, F. (2006), REVISED in 2011

I have gathered over the years of practice of psychotherapy a list of helpful guidelines that assist me in respecting an honoring clients/patients and the sacredness of our clients’ story. I wish to offer here my list of

« mantra » for therapist. They address the three concepts I have explained in the conclusion chapter and illustrate them in action: reflexivity, positioning and ethics-in-practice.


A. Honor the client’s pace, rhythm and timing.

B. Do not go faster than the client.

C. Do not assume that the client has understood or agreed check it out.

D. Avoid intentionally or unwittingly disqualifying client’s stories by premature understanding.

E. Check with the client to see if they had an opportunity to say what they wanted to say at least one time per session.

F. Use outcome-measure to control the quality of your work with clients. (Boss scale, Helping alliance questionnaire, Miller’s scale of therapeutic alliance, 2004…)

G. Check with the client to see if you have heard and not misunderstood what they have said.

H. Give to the clients a chance to correct any misunderstandings that they may have developed, and to clarify and expand on what they have told you.

I. Avoid premature assumptions.

J. Prefer lateral interactions to hierarchical ones.

K. Learn the unique sense that each client makes of his or her own illness and its circumstances.

L. Be willing to let go of early assumptions and stereotyping thoughts.

M. Be willing to challenge yourself and be challenged.

N. Maintain coherence with the language, vocabulary and metaphors of clients.

O. Use cooperative and positive language, a language that invites client into a conversation with you.

P. Remember your questions always have an intent they communicate something about you and what you think (Tomm, 1988).

Q. Remember your questions will shape the future conversations.

R. The questions you ask and the ones you do not ask influence the construction of the clients’ answer and their narratives.

S. Use a cooperative and positive language that invites clients into a conversation.

T. There are many possible versions of a patient’s illness and wellness; circumstance, context, and you, the listener, influence the telling.

U. Try to interact and respond to when the client asks for your response. If not you create resistance.

V. Actions speak sometimes louder than words, as the proverb says.

W. Invite clients to tell about their inner concerns, what it is like for them.

X. Reinvent the wheel. Each day, each second, change occurs.

Y. Look where change is already happening (rather than where you think resistance occurs).

Z. I like to think of myself (as a therapist) as a momentary guest in the life of my clients. I am not familiar with them, with their lifestyles, or their context and the history of their pain and turmoil.

All the best, Respectfully, Fabienne Kuenzli , Ph. D

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Fabienne Kuenzli, Ph.D. , LMFT

Fabienne Kuenzli, Ph.D. , LMFT, is a Swiss clinical psychologist located between Lausanne and Geneva in Switzerland. She is a licensed Psychologist and Psychotherapist in Switzerland and a Licensed Marriage, Family Child and Couple Therapist in California. She is currently in private practice. She has an extensive expertise in teaching at several Universities, in Switzerland, in the USA, and Europeans countries. Fabienne Kuenzli has published a series of articles and 2 books, both in French and in English. She has been trained with the Gestalt Institute of Los Angeles and in the field of Family Therapy. She had the privilege to be trained with Michael White , David Epston, Steve de Shazer, Insoo Kim Berg, Harlene Anderson ,Tom Andersen, Robert and Rita Resnick, and Violet Oaklander. She has been trained in clinical hypnosis since 2001 with the Milton Erickson Institute in Phoenix. She has worked in Switzerland as the clinical director in a shelter for women and their children under the influence of domestic violence. She has worked in California and Texas in non -profit organizations as a clinical supervisor and as a family therapist for children and teenagers with multiple trauma, in precarious part of the city. She has trained numerous practitioners, nurses, social worker, educators, psychiatrists and psychologists to address and respond to the dynamics of violence in their occurring context. In 2006, she created, along with her husband, André Kuenzli the Institute of Reflexive Practices (IRP, www.reflexivepractices.com. She is a founding member of the Violet Oaklander Solomon Institute (vsof.org). She has specific interest and training with violence, trauma, insomnia, anxiety and work with children. She has practiced as a psychologist since 1991. She is responsible along with one of her student for the French translation of “Windows to our children, Fenêtres sur les enfants, 2014, L’Exprimerie, Bruxelles.) She has actively expanded the work of Violet Oaklander in the French speaking community.contacted via email: fk@reflexivepractices.com