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Doorknob Disclosures

As a coach, it is highly likely you will come across the ‘doorknob disclosure’ at some point in your practice. This is when you’re ten minutes away from the session ending and you ask the client ‘We’ve ten minutes left, what might you like to discuss?’  Never ask this question at this point in the session as you could get something like ‘I’m at my wits end with the relationship with my partner – I’m going to leave her tomorrow!’ or ‘I have an addiction with internet porn.  Can you help?’ Both of which have happened to me.

The doorknob disclosure is the classic taking the lid off the can of worms right at the last minute.  To an extent, you can avoid this by not asking ‘We’ve ten minutes left, what might you like to discuss?’   If there is ten minutes to go, by all means ask if there are any points to go back over in relation to the session content.  But don’t invite anything new.

However, with the best will in the world, even if you don’t ask the dreaded question, the client may still casually dump something in your lap at the last minute such as ‘Did I tell you I’ve gone bankrupt?’or ‘By the way I was sexually abused when I was a teenager.’  When this happens, it is important to show you have heard the client and to honour the sharing, maybe with a view to parking the issue for future discussion if the client chooses.

Some clients use the doorknob disclosure to shock the coach, to push boundaries or to stretch their session and get more for their money.  At all times, maintain your professional delivery.  By all means indicate through your words and body language that you have received their disclosure.  End the session appropriate and if necessary take what has happened to supervision, so that you can be clear when you next engage with the client.

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