The Experiment

“The Experiment”!

By David Lawson

There are many ways to help a client to review their journey over several sessions (or in the last session after a period of sessions).

My question to you is, “How do you use a review of the journey thus far to build on the work the client has done?”

I would like to share with you a tool I use all the time with my clients to help them own the great work they have done. I call it “the experiment”! (What I say to the client is in italics.)

Let’s call the work, the changes you have made in your life over the last three sessions, an experiment.

What would be the findings of this experiment? Discovery? Noticed? Learnings?

I write their answers on a whiteboard, without questioning what they tell me. Once they have no more to share, I explore each answer with them. Using questions such as: How has that been useful to you? Was this a surprise to you? How hard has it been to achieve this?

Once we have explored these questions, I then propose a scenario. “What if you had to prepare a 5 to 10-minute presentation to 6-8 people who were experiencing what you were when we first met? What would be the 3 key points/messages you would want them to hear?”

I then write down their three answers on the whiteboard under the findings.

“Please tell me why this point is important for your listeners?” I listen to their answers with curiosity to help them understand their learnings.

“What if for some reason they don’t get one or all of your key points? If they don’t hear anything else except for your last sentence, what would you say in that last sentence that they absolutely need to hear?”

Once a clear sentence is formed, I write it up on the whiteboard.

“As you look at the whiteboard what do you see amongst these words? Has it been easy to get to this point? Given your results/findings, do they encourage you, motivate you to keep moving in the direction you are heading in? What is the most important thing you need to keep doing to keep this moving? Do you need to start doing something else?”

“Given the hard work you have done in this experiment, I wonder if you should celebrate your success thus far? How would you celebrate your success?”

Some clients will not want to celebrate as they are not fully aware where they want to be or are not used to giving themselves a pat on the back and we talk that through.

I use this with both my counselling and coaching clients as it is can be a powerful tool in helping a client to explore their hard work in a different way. Rarely have I done this in under 20 minutes, allowing 30 minutes to do it or set the three key points (for their presentation) as homework for next session if exploring the findings takes too long.


David Lawson is a Clinical member of QCA and is accredited to provide supervision for both PACFA and ACA counsellors. He is also a PCC level coach with the International Coach Federation. David has been in private practice for seven years.

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