Detaching from our agenda

‘Detaching from our agenda’ blog article was written by Nicole Rohani, Senior Child and Family Counsellor, Child Trauma Service at Australian Childhood Foundation.


As practitioners, we generally have some type of agenda when we meet with children and their caregivers.

The agenda assists to provide some purpose in our interactions with clients and their caregivers. We may plan for our assessments by preparing questionnaires and having a sense of what domains we will cover during our conversations. Similarly, our therapeutic work can involve a degree of planning. An activity plan, doing play therapy in one lesson, some artwork in the next.

The point is – we are constantly planning and preparing for what will happen when we see our clients.

But what happens when the client is not ready for our plan?

I had planned to complete an assessment on a young girl who was a survivor of family violence.

I felt confident going into the session, I had a basic outline of what I was going to say and how the session would unfold. What I was not prepared for was her complete silence. Silence after trying to engage her in conversation.

The more I talked, the more uncomfortable she looked. She looked down and avoided my gaze. She looked unsafe. I listened to my body, and I felt the need to stop.

I put my notebook away.

I stopped talking and I sat in silence with her.

I watched her play with her hair whilst she swayed her feet back and forth.

During these moments of silence, I felt an overwhelming feeling.  I felt her sadness and anxiety. I felt her fear and discomfort.  As if her body had communicated all the words her mind could not express.

In those moments of silence, I felt connected to her, attuned to her and knew silence is what she needed.

Sometimes our nervous systems can communicate in ways we cannot describe or comprehend. When we are truly present, detached from our agendas, we become receptive and open to the calls of our client’s hearts.

I did not achieve anything on my agenda. But I felt humbled.

Humbled that I did not know where the session was going, but that I trusted the process. I trusted to listen and lean into what she needed. Silence. Words are often inadequate.


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