Published for the Association for Family Therapy by Academic Press
Journal of family therapy vol:24 issue:2 pages:187-204
When people seek therapy they have stories to tell. In the course of the therapeutic conversation the clients continually make selections about what they want to tell, and what they want to keep silent. In this article the author focuses on the border zone between the said and the not-yet-said, and proposes three hypotheses about the client's hesitations about speaking in the family therapy session. In these hypotheses 'hesitation' is used as a metaphor to give meaning to some nonverbal utterances of clients in such a way that space is opened up in a respectful way for as-yet untold stories. I suggest that it is fruitful to think of certain nonverbal utterances of the clients as hesitations to proceed with the conversation, and to use these nonverbal utterances, in the line of Tom Andersen's thinking (1995), as a starting point for a respectful dialogue with the family about the good reasons they might have not to speak. Not only can this open up space for as-yet unspoken stories, it can also help the therapist to establish a collaborative therapeutic relationship with the family. These ideas are illustrated with several case studies.