Who’s the boss?
It is often believed that counselors give advice to their clients. Ironically, one of the first things taught in graduate school is to not give advice. As a therapist, it is our responsibility to walk alongside our client on their journey for greater mental health.
The most crucial piece to success in therapy is the relationship between the client and the therapist. The connection is the greatest indicator of a client’s success. It is not inappropriate to change therapist if a client feels it is not a good fit. A good relationship is crucial.
One of the goals is for a client to lead a session. Their time is truly their time. As a therapist, we follow the values and issues of the client. Counselors want to learn more about the client than what their behaviors have been. Therapists want to get to the root of the issue and what leads to troubling behaviors. It is also important when following the client’s lead is for the therapist to understand when and how to implement techniques that maneuver the interaction to where it becomes therapist lead.
Following the client’s lead is simply a way of thinking, working, and being with client’s regardless of their pathology and age. A client’s needs, challenges, and strengths vary across client populations, however, respecting and being with clients in-the-moment in a “reciprocal” and relationship-based manner can be applied to all client groups. Being present and empathetic is the most crucial skills for a counselor to follow the direction the client is needing to take a session.