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spike bullet February 2015 ~ Helpful Conversations - Part 4

Chapter 8:  The Wider Frame
Chapter 9:   Structuring a Conversation or a Series of Conversations
Chapter 10:  Safe Practice
Chapter 11:  Systems Issues in Managing the Work  
Resources (links, books, articles, the lighter side)
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color bulletFebruary 2015 ~ Helpful Conversations - Part 4

In November 2014, we are started a series called Helpful Conversations, based on the work of Regina Wright, a chartered psychologist in Europe.  This series of newsletter articles is based on a one-year university-accredited training program that Regina created for the National School of Government to teach reflective skills and individual feedback.  Her background work for the training is based on the work of John Heron, Carl Rogers and Gerard Egan.  Regina may be contacted at HelpfulConversations [at] or by phone in the UK at 0044 1293 518815 (from the US 011-44-1293-518815)

The training was originally created for counselors and has been adapted for our newsletter series.  Since good  communications skills are important for anyone in business, we are pleased to be able to offer this series for our readers with Regina's permission.  Your feedback is welcome. 

Regina is also offering to give feedback on those who would like to use the newsletter series as an online course and do the exercises in each chapter.  Send your results and comments directly to Regina via email to HelpfulConversations [at] using the chapter task list for each part (downloadable Word document).  Regina has graciously offered to review results at no charge to our readers.   

CHAPTER 8:  The Wider Frame

So far, we have considered client conversations as though they took place in a vacuum that is outside of their real life context.  However, employee & organization support conversations very much depend on their wider ‘frame.’  It is time to think about the elements of the wider frame and how they affect conversations.

The Secure Frame

Our starting point is what is known as ‘the secure frame’ of psychotherapy.  We will contrast it with the much more ‘insecure’ kinds of frames of helpful conversations at work.

Elements of the Secure Frame:

  • A secure and reliable setting in which there is a fixed place, time and duration for each meeting.
  • An appropriate fee to ensure that the therapist is employed by and accountable to the client.
  • Privacy and
  • Confidentiality, with no third-party intrusions.
  • A client-centered therapist who does not permit his or her personal concerns to intrude into the psychotherapeutic work.
  • A therapist who refrains from any form of coercion.
  • A therapist who refrains from physical contact.
  • A therapist who will confine contact with the patient to the psychotherapeutic hour and who has had no extra-therapeutic relationship with the patient — either before, during or after the therapy.

Adapted from Smith, D. L., Communicative psychotherapy in: M. Jacobs (ed,) In Search of Supervision, OUP, 1996

Advantages of the Secure Frame

The presence of these conditions makes for a ‘secure therapeutic frame.’  From the client’s perspective, it allows them to ‘step out of’ reality into another dimension where the usual everyday rules of conversation do not apply.  They no longer need to: 

  • Edit what they say.
  • Be concerned about how the Recipient is affected.
  • Worry about confidentiality.
  • Allow for a degree of interpersonal influence or manipulation by the Recipient.

On the contrary, the client is completely safe to say:

  • Whatever they want
  • However and
  • Whenever.

. . . 

Part 4 is continued in the full Chapter 8-11 for download (as a PDF file).  The Chapter 8-11 Task List (Word document) is available for download if you would like feedback from Regina (at no charge to you). 

November 2014 was Part 1 of the series and includes the Glossary. 

Helpful Conversations series ... to be continued ... 

  Internet Resources

book graphic  Books    -  Disclosure: We get a small commission for purchases made via links to Amazon.

  • Helping the Client: A Creative Practical Guide.  John Heron.  Sage Publications, 2001.  ISBN: 978-0761972884
  • On Becoming a Person: A Therapist's View of Psychotherapy.  Carl Rogers.  Mariner Books, 1995.  ISBN: 978-0395755310
  • Client-Centered Therapy: Its Current Practice, Implications and Theory.  Carl Rogers.  Robinson Publishing, 2003.  ISBN: 978-1841198408
  • The Skilled Helper: A Problem-Management and Opportunity-Development Approach to Helping.  Gerard Egan. Cengage Learning (2013). ISBN: 978-1285065717
  • Income Without a Job: Living Well Without a Paycheck.  Michael Jay Anthony, Barbara J. Taylor., 2008  ISBN-13: 978-0-557-00377-8.  Website:  Tap into your own creativity and use  your full potential.  Learn how to see opportunities that others miss.   

world wide web - articles  Articles

Related newsletter articles:
    August 1997 - Improving verbal communications
    April 2001 - Consulting Skills for Managers
    November 2007 - True Community
    March 2005 - Male/Female Communication at Work
    April 2000 - The Art of Listening

smiley graphic  The Lighter Side  

The most precious gift we can offer anyone is our attention.
―  Thich Nhat Hanh

The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn't being said.  The art of reading between the lines is a life long quest of the wise.
― Shannon L. Alder

The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood.  The best way to understand people is to listen to them.
― Ralph G. Nichols

Many a man would rather you heard his story than granted his request.
— Phillip Stanhope, Earl of Chesterfield

One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say 
― Bryant H. McGill

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.
― Leo Buscaglia

About our resource links:  We do not endorse or agree with all the beliefs in these links.   We do keep an open mind about different viewpoints and respect the ability of our readers to decide for themselves what is useful.

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Page updated: October 16, 2023      
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