Last week I met a hypnotherapist who expressed his frustration (and rightly so) with a psychotherapist he had seen who didn't say anything to him in the first session. The poor guy didn't know what to do and he said after about 20 minutes he broke the silence with "is this what you do?" , "yes the therapist said" . I think it was a bit unprofessional of the psychotherapist to do this. It's a bit like taking someone for a driving lesson, and the teacher just sitting in the car with the learner, how ridiculous would that look..?
It can raise anxiety and frustration when your therapist leaves you in the silence. It can leave you floundering not knowing what to say, or what they want.
Silence has many uses in therapy and, it is used for very good reason. I have seen clients who have said their therapist didn't stop talking about themselves, and also people who have said their counsellor didn't say a word. Neither is probably that helpful.
So silence is used as a way of providing you space to think, and feel (or process) what is going on for you. It could be used as a way for you to take the lead, and go in the direction you want.
Imagine yourself as organism that needs water, you are programmed to go towards the moisture and water as it's good for you, but someone keeps getting in your way, it could be very dis-empowering.
You may be uncomfortable in the silences at first - you will live. At home on your own how much time do you spend in comfortable silence? It can be done with another present too, and don't worry experienced therapists are used to silence, they will be comfortable with it, so much so they may forget just how uncomfortable it can for people be at the start.
Chris Rudyard MNCS Accredited
Professional, experienced counsellor & psychotherapist in Liverpool