I’m sure I can’t be the only person who gets annoyed with the process of predictive text.  I’ve turned off the system on my phone after I repeatedly sent a series of ridiculous texts to friends and family and got frustrated with the barrage of return texts filled with “ ......???”

I think, for me, it’s that sense that predictive text is saying to me “I know better than you do what you are about to write”.

It can’t.  Not fully.  It might sometimes get it right, but it’s outweighed, for me, by the number of times it gets it totally and ridiculously wrong.  And I make enough typing errors in my texts anyway without predictive text adding to my woes!

And I am notoriously stubborn in the face of someone else’s predictions about me!

A very elderly neighbour of mine sent me a text early this morning saying that she couldn’t get motivated.  She has a new phone and is struggling to use it well.  Instead of “get” when she was saying she couldn’t get motivated, predictive text produced “Etihad”.

Now I know that my elderly neighbour has no concept of what the Etihad Stadium* is and certainly would never use it in a text.  So in this case predictive text absolutely did not know better than my neighbour what she was writing!

(*And of course you might have presumed differently from me and gone for “Etihad Airways”...(other airlines are available) – which is another thing my neighbour would never use in a text anyway!)

It got me thinking about assumptions and predictions we might make with clients.

Sometimes, we might predict to ourselves what they are thinking.  Sometimes we might even want to finish their sentences for them.

Sometimes, if we have had a similar experience, we might predict inwardly what they are feeling or how they should deal with it.

The problems come when we express those predictions and assumptions.

Sometimes, as with predictive text we might get it right.

But the therapist’s role is to enable the client to explore an issue and reach their own conclusion and way forward, not disregard what they are feeling, saying or thinking with what we predict.

Sometimes it is spectacularly wrong.

A supervision colleague of mine many years ago told me about a new client whose partner had recently died and to whom he had simply offered the observation that she must be feeling very sad and upset.

On this occasion the client, having experienced an abusive and isolating relationship with her partner over many years, told my colleague in no uncertain terms that actually in reality she would be dancing in the streets celebrating freedom at last.

Lesson learned!

So don’t predict what your client (or anyone else for that matter) is thinking, feeling or going to say.

If in any doubt, don’t do it.

Well actually, just don’t do it at all.