Working Successfully with Your Client: Effective Techniques From Psychoanalysis
Stephen Sonnenberg, MD, and Elizabeth Danze, M.Arch.
Successful communication can make or break provider-client relationships, in the worlds of business, government, and non-profits. This seminar, led by Associate Professor of Architecture Elizabeth Danze and Adjunct Professor of Architecture and psychoanalyst Stephen Sonnenberg, MD, will examine in detail their experience successfully leading a design project of a unique facility providing arts education for troubled teens and vocational training for unskilled young adults. In that project they employed communication skills derived from the psychoanalytic relationship between therapist and patient, ensuring client satisfaction.
The seminar will focus on the illustration, examination, and training of participants in six areas: (1) listening effectively to clients and understanding their interests and needs; (2) helping clients define and redefine what they want to accomplish and what they expect from you; (3) negotiating goals and expectations with clients; (4) putting themselves in the shoes of clients to better understand their histories, goals, and expectations; (5) examining their personal roles in these relationships, including difficult roles such when the client feels you have erred; and (6) conveying confidence that you can get the job done and meet the client’s expectations.
Through lectures, a student case presentation, a role play exercise, and group discussion participants will learn eleven best practices: (a) listening for the first time; (b) listening again and again; (c) recognizing that clients are unaware or barely aware of some expectations that they want you to meet (within psychoanalysis traditionally referred to as transference, which isn’t restricted to the clinical setting); (d) asking for clarification of what the client wants; (e) gently (or not so gently) confronting the client with observations that they are unclear or conflicted about what they want; (f) interpreting for the client what he or she expects from you; (g) negotiating with the client after you draw such conclusions, as new compromises will emerge; (h) putting yourself in your client’s shoes as you try to define your role; (i) understanding the history of your client and your client’s expectations for your role (for example, if you are dealing with a government project, you need to explore the legislative history of the project; if you are dealing with a private client you may need to learn a great deal about the client’s past life and how she or he got to where she/he is in terms of the present project); (j) admitting your mistakes and constantly renegotiating your relationship with the client, to prevent a project foundering so badly that it fails; (k) making clear to your client that you know what you are doing and can succeed.
Stephen Sonnenberg is Fellow-in-Residence at the Humanities Institute and Adjunct Professor of Architecture at The University of Texas at Austin. He is also Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. Dr. Sonnenberg has decades of experience translating the lessons of psychoanalysis into understandable language for those unfamiliar with its principles. He is the co-author of The Concise Guide to Psychodynamic Psychotherapy, which as the first modern textbook of psychiatry translated into Russian introduced psychoanalytic principles to Soviet psychiatrists in 1992. That book has also been translated into Persian, Mandarin, and Japanese, and introduced modern psychoanalytic ideas in Iran, China, and Japan.
Elizabeth Danze is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and an Associate Professor at The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture, where she teaches in the graduate and undergraduate programs and serves as director of the Professional Residency Program. Her work integrates practice and theory across disciplines by examining the convergence of sociology and psychology with the tangibles of space and construction. Danze is also a principal with Danze Blood Architects, as well as co-editor and author of Psychoanalysis and Architecture and CENTER, Volume 17: Space and Psyche (currently in press). She is the recipient of the University of Texas System Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award and a member of the Academy of Distinguished Teachers.