When clients stop coming

 

This blog started off as a blog on challenging myself, and I realised that it was somewhat akin to a previous post I wrote in July about my training mid-point, and as I started, I realised that I was thinking about my therapy, so I decided to go there instead.

 

I suspect any trainee or counsellor reading this has had an experience (or several!) where a client who has previously seemed very interested in coming to counselling suddenly stops, with no reason. This is a bit about my own experience (as a client) of that.

I’m a firm believer in layers of therapy (like an onion. Or a parfait). I first went to counselling when I was 19, for a very specific reason. Therapy kind of worked around this issue and when i was ‘better’ I stopped therapy. A few years later I went to see another counsellor about unrelated issues that had come up for me. And there came a point in that therapy where I felt that i was ‘done’. I was there, with nothing really to say, and nowhere to go. So I stopped going to therapy and apart from a brief return when a couple of traumatic thing happened within a week, I didn’t go back.

 

At the start of this course, I had to get my own therapy of course (it’s a UKCP course and that’s mandated). I saw two therapists over the course of a year, but therapy felt like it wasn’t going anywhere. It wasn’t for lack of trying, and eventually, my counselling insitution let me go back to the therapist I was seeing in my early 20s (over 12 years ago). It’s really interesting for me to wee the journey I am on with that counsellor; I was so convinced at 25 that I didn’t have anything left to talk about, and now, a decade or so later, I find that I have barely scratched the surface.

 

I’m fairly sure that my COUNSELLOR could have told me back then that I’d barely scratched the surface – but she like me, is person-centred and that isn’t in her job description. I was at the place I was at, and that place said I was done. I was at a plateau, or a gathering place. I suspect that I’d had quite a lot of restructuring to do in therapy, and that I simply wasn’t ready to start building again – I had to spend some time being the ‘new’ me in the world before I was ready to start building again.

 

Now – I see that I am building again, that therapy is of tremendous use. But the stuff that i’m doing now, I simply could NOT have done then. I wouldn’t have had a place to start even and it would have thrown me into confusion and led to me not coping in life. I was lucky that I was able to verbalise that to my counsellor and we worked together to an ending, but I suspect that there are many more clients who aren’t keen on endings and they just leave, with no warning, and don’t answer calls or return messages. It’s frustrating as a person, but as a (trainee) counsellor I recognise completely that the client is doing what is best for them and that it’t not for me to impose my will onto a client and instead, I wish them well in my head and hope they find what they need in life.

 

 

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