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Having heard the story and checked on its accuracy, both therapist and client are ready for the next stage. It should be remembered, however, that this story is almost certain to be altered, modified, enlarged upon during the course of therapy. But, for the moment, it is the agreed story.

During the spotlighting stage, the client is invited to select the parts of the story that seem to be most significant, most worthy of attention. He/she has already told the story but now is the time to concentrate on aspects of that story that seem to carry the most emotional weight. The client is controlling the spotlight and the therapist is waiting to see what is revealed. The therapist may well have
his/her own agenda but it must wait. Wherever the client goes, the therapist follows.

Now the co-operative venture takes off. The therapist is not unlike a sensitive director watching and listening to an actor, respecting his/her contribution but stimulating, through thoughtful, empathic prompting, deeper exploration of the part. The therapist will seek clarification and amplification of feelings, thoughts and experiences. Both present and past concerns will be scrutinised. When the client has finished then the therapist puts under the spotlight areas of the client’s experience that he/she feels may have been overlooked intentionally or unintentionally. These are areas, in the therapist’s judgement, that may reveal important information.

At the end of the spotlighting stage, the therapist and client will have, by their mutual exploration, considerably deepened the content of the original story and by so doing entered into a trusting relationship.

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