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Attributions in therapy

Attributions in therapy

Clients may attribute success or failure to ability, effort, task difficulty or luck. The hypnotherapist or psychotherapist can ascertain their patterns of attribution and may well find areas which can be utilised for the specific goals the client is working on, or maybe identify patterns that are less than helpful.

Attributions can be internal or external, stable or unstable. Let’s look at an example: taking a maths test. A client may say:

  • I passed this exam because I was lucky (success: external)
  • I failed this exam because I didn’t work hard enough (failure: internal)
  • I passed this exam because I am good at maths (success: internal)
  • I failed this exam because it was too hard (failure: external)

It is important to look for reality as well as the patterns. It could be that any of these statements are true, but uncharacteristic. For example the second client may have passed every other test because he was good at maths but just had a hiccup here.

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