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I'd follow up with, "Why do you think you did that?" If the client says the homework was difficult, we troubleshoot that.And it is admirable when a therapist can acknowledge potential “fault” on the therapist’s part.
At the end of the session, ask, “So what homework assignment do you want to do?
” That helps ensure that the client is motivated to do it and that it's appropriate in length and difficulty.
They too readily let the client off the hook, for example, “I understand. Let’s proceed and hopefully you’ll do the next assignment.” Such a response makes the counselor and client more comfy but doesn’t necessarily help the client move forward. When a client doesn’t do homework, there could indeed be many non-lazy reasons, especially given that clients often come from difficult situations.
It’s usually wiser to take the time at the end of a session to be sure the homework assignment is appropriate and if the client fails to do it, to troubleshoot and then consciously decide whether the wise response is support or tough love. To automatically assume some form of laziness is a classic example of the fundamental attribution error.
This is what I tell them and is what I do with my clients.
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Prevention Make sure the client is both willing and able to do the assignment.
They’re adults with adult problems who are paying for help.
Tell them how you think the homework will help, encourage them, and then let them decide (unless, I suppose, you have a waitlist of clients whom you think you can better help).
The takeaway A client’s success heavily depends on doing homework between sessions.
Too many coaches, counselors, and therapists are too nice when a client doesn't.