Counselling when you are a person of few words

Counselling when you are a person of few words

It may seem odd but it does happen, some people come to counselling and would be happy to just sit there and say nothing. This is more of an issue in the early stages of the work. Usually as trust develops for the client with the counsellor they will be more comfortable to open up.
Till that trust develops there is still a therapeutic process to go through. Developing trust, builds the therapeutic relationship between the client and the counsellor. This relationship is the means for the client to resolve their issues.

The apprehensive client

The moments before a session can be nerve wrecking for a client who would rather sitting in a library reading a book.

There are a lot of reasons for why a client would be apprehensive in approaching counselling. Their presenting issue may be very traumatic for them and they may not be comfortable talking about it with anyone. The client may not know what to expect from counselling therapy and maybe even fearful of it. The client may have had a previous negative experience with counselling and be reluctant to trust any counsellor again.

The role of the counsellor with the apprehensive client is to firstly acknowledge the anxiety and assure the client that this is perfectly appropriate. A fear of judgement from the counselling therapist is probably what has the client anxious. If the counsellor expresses a calm acceptance of the client regardless of their quite and even frightened appearance it will greatly help to reduce the client’s anxiety. Hopefully over the sessions an open trusting relationship can develop where the client’s issues can be worked through.

Practicalities in working with the quiet client

So how does the counsellor respond when a new client comes in and obviously won’t be saying much?

To start with the client is reassured that it is ok to be quiet. The counsellor will have their questions to ask as part of the initial assessment. This can be done slowly at the client’s pace. They are reassured that what they say is kept confidential. Space is provided to take as long as they need to say what they want to say.

Sessions can be kept short and focus on only one or two areas. The counsellor and client can agree this beforehand. It can be useful to agree at the end of each session what the format of the next session will be.
Regularly reviewing at the end of each session with the client what their experience of the session was can help trust develop. The client will be listened to as to what is or isn’t working for them.

A quite client quietly changes their world

A quiet client may never be very fluent in their conversation.
Regardless of this the counsellor will still use the clients willingness to engage in the process and help them reach their goals.

If quietness is part of an overall resistance to therapeutic change then there may be a problem. Quietness in counselling can be a symptom of resistance but never automatically means the client is resistant.

A quite client can often be very focused on what they want to do and how to do it. Such clients don’t engage with side issues spending time thinking what is important and focusing on the issues directly needing work.

So if you consider yourself a quite spoken person that in no way means you can not engage in counselling therapy.

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