Eye Contact

Eye contact is an interesting thing. Sometimes people come up with a goal of keeping a steady, fixed gaze into my eyes during sessions.  This never goes well because there’s not enough leftover energy to allow thoughts/ideas/concerns to come into the foreground for them. So the person goes blank.  And then they’re very uncomfortable because they’re staring into my eyes and they’ve gone blank.

The opposite is also true.  People bring up their genuine concerns and they can feel their eyes moving around to correspond with their mental movement and then they say, “you probably noticed I don’t make much eye contact.” But I assure them they didn’t seem unnatural. They were simply letting their eyes do what they want while the rest of them searches their soul.

So don’t beat yourself up for “not making good eye contact.”

When it’s natural, a person actually “lets go” of their eyes and only occasionally accesses them again at key moments when (1) they’re wondering what kind of reaction the other person is having or (2) they’re putting extra emphasis on a specific (already formed) thought that they want to make sure is fully delivered into the other person.

So let them go. Let them loose.  You’ll know when to access them naturally.

If you make eye contact your primary goal, you’re probably going to get in the way of something.

And the fear of seeming weird by not making enough eye contact is going to make you seem weird from too much eye contact and going blank while staring.

About Kip Watkins, MSEd, NCC, LPC

Kip is a Nationally Certified Counselor and Licensed Professional Counselor with a private practice in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He earned his Bachelor's Degree from Saint Vincent College and his Master's Degree from Duquesne University. Passionate about existential and systemic modes of therapy, he completed the post-graduate program at the Gestalt Institute of Pittsburgh. He deeply enjoys his work with his clients and he also loves helping other clinicians have more meaning and joy in their work.

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