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Keeping the Counselor and Client in Communication with Each Other

We have previously discussed the importance of the counselor keeping his or her attention on the client during a session and have developed theory and practice to enhance this (giving up the "ancient habit," commitments to put full attention on the client, etc.). There has been real improvement in this.

There are still areas for fine-tuning, however. I notice, in certain sessions and with certain clients, that the client has "gone off" by herself or himself and is wrestling with the distress pretty much alone and out of communication with me. I have been, in effect, left "standing by" only, providing safety but nothing else. Perhaps I had earlier helped the client get started repeating a commitment and had been in contact and communication with the client while doing it, but now the client is repeating the commitment by herself or himself, accepting no more participation by me as the counselor than that of being watchman.

I became uneasy about the slowness with which a particular client seemed to be re-emerging. There were tears and shaking to some extent, but also a great deal of "suffering" in the tone of voice and facial expression of the client. When I required the client to keep her eyes open and look at me and talk to me about the distress there was a dramatic change. Rambling on and on about the gory details of her distress and "suffering" with her eyes closed gave way to laughter. Yawns came very quickly behind the laughter.

Trying to think about this and to draw some useful conclusions, I've decided (and this perhaps should have been obvious all along) that one requirement of a good session is that the client is in communication with the counselor and not handling the distress in isolation; that the good sessions, the decisive sessions, that we've had in the past, have been where this condition has been met.

I suggest that you try watching this and see if it makes a difference.


Appeared in Present Time No. 69, October 1987.


Last modified: 2019-05-02 14:41:35+00