What to Do When Clients Cry

Jay Efran, Ph.D.

Our evolutionary programming prompts us to launch into emergency action when anyone cries. But what do we really need to do for our clients when tears emerge?

In this short clip, therapy author and psychology professor Jay Efran, Ph.D., shares his do's and don'ts list for when clients cry and explains how tears can be a therapist's ally.

Topic: Clinical Psychology and Psychiatry

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Saturday, February 11, 2017 2:49:28 PM | posted by Darlene Jarnat
A very good reminder to "stand down". Well presented.

Thursday, January 12, 2017 10:26:25 PM | posted by Nancy
Thank you for this helpful video clip about responding to someone's tears. I will remember the phrase, "What was the thought that helped you cry?" I once heard Doctor Alan Wolfelt speak about grief. He, too, supported this concept. He said to not hand tissues to someone expressing their grief through tears because that could be perceived as sending a message to stop crying.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017 12:57:05 PM | posted by Dale Weissman, Psy.Dl
Very helpful! Especially since I was just with a patient who was sobbing. I felt awful for her and worried about her, although I apparently did all the right things according to this video. The video confirmed that and also made me feel better about the session.

Monday, January 9, 2017 6:48:26 AM | posted by Anne Devine
I have said "what made you sad?". His comments made me realize that then the client focuses on "I'm sad" instead of what complex thoughts and feelings they were actually experiencing.

Sunday, January 8, 2017 8:36:15 PM | posted by bobbie pearson
This is a good conversation and I enjoyed it. It let me know that when a client is crying just let it flow. He said key words such as "your thought" regarding crying. It is really good.

Sunday, January 8, 2017 3:14:13 PM | posted by Carolina Rosario Núñez
I enjoyed the video. It was very kind for Mr Efran to share his wisdom and experience. Thank you so much. I will practice "what is the thought that HELP you cry".

Sunday, January 8, 2017 1:31:06 PM | posted by Gwendolyn
The discussion and rationale for letting clients cry makes good sense. The thought of clients feeling comfortable and a sense of trust to cry in front of the therapist or a good friend or any person that they trust is relieving to the client/person. Being able to let your guard down (crying) is a positive emotion that should not have an impact on others/therapists (i.e. making one feel they have to do something). Crying is a positive escape mechanism/cathartic/tension reliever. Thanks for reminding us and sharing. Gwen

Sunday, January 8, 2017 12:11:11 PM | posted by M Bergmann
A very good reminder about crying in therapy...I remember a lecture I attended concerning tissue pros and cons...I always have tissue ready, but I do have it close enough to the client so it won't get in the way if they need it...

Friday, January 6, 2017 4:04:27 PM | posted by gloria tucker
Very very good

Wednesday, December 28, 2016 7:27:09 AM | posted by Tamara Houston
At the start of the session, I explained to clients about the items on my table, that include a box of tissues. We discuss how crying can be a cathartic part of therapy, and that they are responsible for getting the tissue and wiping their own tears. No physical touch!

Monday, December 26, 2016 3:49:53 PM | posted by Synolta Morris
I learned on how crying can be effected part of therapy.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016 7:58:52 AM | posted by nancy
I usually want to "fix" things so I would hug and attempt to ask ? to make things better. Now, I know I should just let crying happen. If I inquire I will ask, "what is the thought that made you cry". Thank you.