Restating involves repeating back to the client single words or short phrases they have used. It is often a quick and easy way of prompting further discussion.

In the examples above, all the instructor has done is restate a word that was both emphasised and emotionally loaded. It encouraged further response and allowed the instructor to keep within the client’s frame of reference. They provided minimal direction to the client and were not as obtrusive as questions (e.g. “what are you so confused about?”)

Client: I feel so confused.
Instructor: Confused?
Client: Yes, about …


Client: I’m finding it really hard to cut down.
Instructor: Hard?
Client: Well, every time I have a cup of coffee or large meal, I crave a cigarette.

Restating can also be useful for keeping focused in a session.

Client: I really enjoyed that gym trial over the last couple of weeks. I’ve met lots of interesting people …there’s one fellow that works near me in the city and I met him a couple of times for a drink after work … nice chap …where was I?
Instructor: Enjoyed the gym
Client: Oh yes … I feel so much better. I feel that I’m now ready to give it a proper go.

In the above transcript, the instructor’s intention was to remind the client what they were talking about and get them back onto track.

Restating should not be overused, however, as it can lead to the conversation sounding unnatural and false, and may irritate clients.