2) ‘I’ll Bet You!’ ‘Who are you calling predictable?!’

This is an extension of ‘No-frills Predicting.’ Once behavior has been identified as ‘predictable’, the client often has a palpable reaction of astonishment. He is likely to feel a combination of confusion, indignation, and surprise. Behavior he had considered as ‘spontaneous’ and an expression of his ‘free spirit’ is suddenly categorized as nothing more than ‘expected and habitual.’  As a result, the client often feels directly challenged, and ‘desperately’ wants to ‘prove the clinician wrong!’ At that point he may offer ‘to make a bet’ to show the clinician that his patterns and behavior are no so predictable. This represents what is happening on the ‘surface’ of the intervention.   

‘Below the surface’ the intervention addresses the core issue of ‘strengthening the alliance.’ In paradoxical fashion, the overt or surface behavior is not the central focus, however the ‘discussion around’ the predicted behavior becomes the conduit for enhancing the alliance. The experiential aspect of the intervention often creates an electric atmosphere of lively discussion to determine whose perception is ‘right.’

In particular, regarding ‘anger’ and related conduct (i.e.: fighting, lying, stealing, etc.) clients’ often assume their actions are spontaneous. It is initially mind-bending for them to consider such behaviors as merely ‘habitual and expected’ events.

As a result, clients often perceive the clinician’s prediction as a challenge to their ‘free-will.’ The fact that someone is anticipate their behavior is a shock to their self-view as a ‘unique and spontaneous’ person.

For the self-involved client, it never occurred to him that his daily or weekly behavior could be foreseen in the same way a weatherman forecasts a storm. The fact that his behavior is being calculated leaves the client with the feeling that his actions are being scrutinized. With the recognition that his actions are in the ‘spotlight’, the client often becomes motivated to prove to himself and others that his ‘free will’ is still intact.

At this point the client will often interject the idea of ‘the bet’ to ‘prove’ the validity of his stated position. While on the surface ‘the bet’ seems to indicate a ‘showdown or conflict’, in actuality it serves to highlight and strengthen the alliance.

However, it is up to the clinician to decide what kind of wager (i.e.: gentleman’s bet, specific privilege, monetary prize, etc.) is clinically appropriate to time and place, and will also keep the client engaged in the process.

‘The bet’ helps advance treatment in 8 ways: 1) Challenges the client to overcome habitual responses and behavior; 2) Engages client without accusation or blame; 3) Uplifts client’s mood and creates a sense of focus and purpose; 4) Extends treatment over a stretch of time; 5) Motivates the client to remain engaged with others; 6) Dissolves abandonment trauma as he recognizes his actions are witnessed;; 7) Promotes strengthening of the therapeutic alliance; 8) Moves client to reclaim forfeited free-will and enhance self-esteem.

‘The bet’ challenges the client by placing him in a position that he must demonstrate impulse control over a predicted pattern. As part of the process, his ‘reward’ for demonstrating impulse control will be an internal increase in self esteem. It is often this palpable experience of raised self-esteem that will promote further efforts to strengthen impulse control.

It is the experience of feeling ‘challenged’ offers an ‘experience beyond words’ that strengthens the therapeutic ‘force of gravity’ in a real and personal manner. In becoming ‘invested’ in the bet, the client simultaneously becomes ‘invested’ in his relationship with the clinician –who will be a witness to his actions. In this way ‘the bet’ strengthens the ‘force of gravity’ and maintains the client’s involvement in the ‘here and now.’ As a result, the intervention brings the client ‘out of himself’ and dismantles debilitating feelings of abandonment and isolation.   

It is important to note that the client’s ability to feel ‘challenged’ and determined to overcome the predicted pattern is a key factor in implementing ‘the bet’ intervention. As such, this technique is not recommended for clients who are overwhelmed with depression as they may not have the ability to assert their ‘free will’ to undo predicted pattern.


www.ParadoxPsychology.com   EPK Revised: 1-19-12