That’s an important phrase for counselors to learn to use. Too often, counselors tend to guess about a counselee’s problems, thereby wasting his and their valuable time.
“Give me an example.”
It’s like this. A counselee mentions something or other. Let’s say an argument down at work that led to his firing. The counselor then begins to speculate, “Was it like . . . ?” And he describes a possible scenario. The counselee then says, “No.” The counselor then describes a second possible scenario to which the counselee replies, “Well . . . not exactly.” And so on and on and on—the counselor guessing about what might have happened. What a foolish waste of time! Yet, I’ve heard trainees in role-plays do that very thing.
“Well, what should they do?”
“Clearly, they should let the counselee describe the happening by saying, ‘Tell me about it.’ After all, he’s sitting there right in front of you. He was there when it happened. So, let him be the one who recounts what took place.
“ But what if he gives you a slanted account, in favor of himself?”
“That’s a genuine possibility. You will soon discover whether or not his account is accurate because you will give him homework based on it. If he demurs, saying, “I don’t think that will work?”, or words to that effect, then ask your question (which by now may begin to become an old friend): “Tell me about it.” His response will probably make it clear that he wasn’t giving you the whole picture –or one that even begins to square with the truth. If he does the homework—or says that he tried, but it didn’t work, then ask, “Tell me about it.” The response, pushed often enough will usually bring out the truth.
In other words, in many situations—not just the one mentioned above—this phrase will bring much needed information to light.
“Well, perhaps. But I’m uncertain.”
Tell me about it!
Check out our online courses, including, Introduction to Nouthetic Counseling and The Use of Scripture in Counseling, taught by Jay Adams!
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- The Christian Counselor’s Manual by Jay Adams
- How to Help People Change by Jay Adams
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