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PACING AND LEADING: MATCHING AND CHANGIND WORLDVIEWS

The client enters counseling or therapy with a distinctive view of his or her situation. You, as
counselor, have your own distinctive worldview. You may have intentionally selected a specific
theory of therapy to which you are committed, or you may be oriented toward eclecticismo r
general theory. Regardless, two people with two views of the world are encountering one
another. What is to happen? Whose view will prevail? Will both be accommodated and/or
enhanced in the process?

Consistently in this book, listening to and understanding the client has been emphasized as
critical to the change process. This process of client understanding may also be termed pacing,
the term used bye Lankton (1980) and Richardson and Margulis (1981). These authors also talk
about leading, which is somewhat parallel to the influencing skills of Chapter 3. However, pacing
and leading have special uses that may be of value as you try to understand and help clients
develop and grow.

Pacing. The term pacing may be defined as a more general concept than attending, rapport
development, or empathy- yet it is closely related to all.

“Friends pace aech other naturally; they have rapport of some sort, they understand each
other,… they speak the same language”.

Dancing could also be described as a form of pacing: in dancing two people learn to move
together in time; if the lead dancer does not pace the partner well, moving the two together
smoothly becomes almost impossible.

Your task as therapist is to learn to pace or match the client as closely as possible. Pacing
involves entering the client’s worldview and experiencing things as the client does. The literatura
on pacing, however, provides some very specific things you can do to ensure solid pacing or
matching with your client:

1. You may asume the same body postureo r use similar gestures, as indicated earlier in
the section on movement synchrony
2. Your may match attending behavior patterns of eye contact, body language, vocal tone,
and verbal following with those of the client. Some advocate deliberate matching of
breathing patterns as well.
3. You may use the key words of the client. As noted in paraphrasing and reflection of
feeling skills, it is critical that you use the “touchy, main words” that the client uses to
describe the situation. Understanding key words of the client will, of course, be
facilitated by understanding of the Surface and deep-structure language concepts of this
chapter.

Central to pacing, of course, is noting the major conflicts, incongruities, and discrepancies of the
client. You will find that if you deliberately pace clients, you can more easily enter into and
understand how their worldview is constructed.

Useful pacing is deepening the client’s experience of the problema or concern. This may
be done through the use of perceptual systems.

Perceptual Systems. The term perceptual systems refers to how we all take in data through our
senses. We gain our worldview through our eyes, ears, and kinesthetic senses. (In addition, taste
and odor enrich our perceptions as well.) You will find that you can enhance and deepen your

When I’m out walking. you may ask the client to describe a concrete situation using seeing. Gather in as many details as you can… Next. In counseling and therapy. Take the time necessary… Remember a specific experience. The separation of perceptual systems may be a habitual learning style of your client or may represent emotional trauma from childhood. the first one which comes to your mind… Now see yourself in the situation. I am absolutely not visual. Experiencing the concreteness of an event seems to be enhanced when the body’s senses are involved. Similarly. In deep trauma. clients often talk about situations from the past. Most respond best if all systems are used. In counseling and now could describe it in some detail. I pull out my watch and sometimes say the time out loud. In such cases. a child. At the more basic level. and/or people around you. you will find them frequently using the words “see”. consider the following statement by Jean Piaget. If you were successful. think back to your experience in high school. what do you hear? Can you hear the voices or sounds around you? If you take a momento you can see and hear the voices or sounds around you? If you take a momento you can see and hear much of what transpired in the past… Finally. In some cases using these sense modalities will bring out a dramatic reliving of prior events and should be used carefully.”hear” and “feel”. you will find your clients can deepen their feelings and become more in touch with what happened specifically in the problema situation. hear. stay with the scenes and sounds. I can remember the time. For example. be it 10 years ago or last week. pacing is aimed toward helping you enter the client’s frame of reference. but I completely forgot it. or I whisper it. If your client has a difficulty with his or her spouse and the Surface structure sentences seem vague and inconclusive. and it’s purely visual… (I forget)… A minute later I pullo ut my watch and then I realice it’s still the same time. others to the auditory or feeling parts. For just a momento. If you watch the work of most experienced therapists and counselors with their clients. . but some people seem to respond best to the visual portion. which itself is not attached to the situation. individuals who have been in an accidento r have been raped may often be unable to bring back anything from the trauma except a vague feeling. What do you feel in that setting? What is going on in your body? What are your emotions? Take some time to experiencia what you see. This brief exercise is oriented to helping you recreate a situation from the past. objects. and you may desire to recreate them again in as much detail as you can. If I say nothing. If I say what it is and recall the sound of my voice. the event itself may be repressed or forgotten. on his own perceptual systems: For example. and feel from the past. Note the look of the roo mor open space. Different people seem to respond differently to parts of the perceptual systems. Notice colors. You can help your client experience a problema with a spouse. the Swiss developmental theorist. The “feelings” may be detached from old experiences. and feeling. For example. Through the usea of an exercise such as the one above. you moved your total attention to a past situation and now could describe it in some detail. one of the tasks of the therapist may be to work through the issues around the trauma and gradually allow appropriate expression of affect and later reexperiencing of the event. and their variations. I was conscious the first time.experience of a current or past event by specifically using your main sensory modalities of sight. some of your clients will not be able to “see” events from the pasto r “hear” the associated voices. hearing. or to relive a past experience through careful use of perceptual systems and pacing.

as counselor. Techniques for intentionally influencing and directing the client are perhaps what make different theories of helping different from each other. integrated method of diverse ideas for relating more closely with the client. Gracefulness. Rogerian theory gives primary attention to pacing and understanding the client’s world . they are virtually infinite and range from sharing your opinión and giving advice to complex theories outlined in beginning form later in this text. Understanding and pacing are not enougth. With many clients. and feeling words. the possibilities for leading or influencing change in the client and the client’s map of reality (and eventually even the client’s worldview) are now more open. and ethically. Pacing provides the basis for understanding that can lead to change. If you understand and empathize with the client’s experience and the client is aware of the relationship. pacing provides a useful. The degree of attention that different theories give to pacing (although few would use that word) varies extensively. It is also a useful construct as you seek to enter the worldview of the other person. will have a much clearer hearing of how the situation feels for the client. you gracefully begin to lead the client into a new experience”. the experience will be relived and you. Pacing is obviously closely related to empathy and the attending skills. thoughts. Leading.hearing. as Lankton notes. the transition to new movements. is critical. and behaviors must be donde judiciously. thoughtfully. “Once an effective pace has been established. When combined with the several concepts of the book presented thus far.