Getting Involved in...the Counselling Relationship

“I see this picture on the desk. A smiling guy in cutoffs and a tee shirt, with his family. The guy in the room wears a suit. He sits behind the desk. He doesn’t smile. He doesn’t look or act anything like the guy in the picture. I’d rather be counselled by the guy in the picture.”

It’s true that sometimes counselling can feel cold, impersonal and inhuman. You are expected to bare your soul to someone who apparently has no first name, no life and no personality beyond their job. The problem here, is not the counsellor. It is the nature of the counselling relationship. The counselling relationship is just not like any other and it doesn’t follow any of the normal patterns.

What the counselling relationship is not…

Like Talking to a Friend or a Parent
The counselling relationship is not like sharing your feelings with a parent or a friend or a brother or sister. You know these people and they know you. They know about your past, whether you are a morning person or what you like to eat. They might know about your dreams and who you love. And they will be there for you, in the years to come. You know enough about them, to know who you can talk to and who you can trust. Of course, you can’t always be sure that some of them won’t tell others about your problems. But they will be there to celebrate your successes, like graduation or landing the dream job or the wedding. They may also be there for you at 4 in the morning when you are feeling lost or scared or depressed.

What the counselling relationship is…

A Partnership
Most of the time, the counselling relationship is about one person sharing their feelings with a stranger who will become their partner. You will not know much about the professional’s life. You may not know if they have children or their children’s names. You may not even know their first name. And they won’t be there with you to celebrate birthdays or at 4 am… but... it will be all about you. It is the only kind of relationship that is just about and entirely for you.

Despite differences in agencies and service providers, one thing is true for all – the counselling relationship is a partnership between you and a professional dedicated to giving you the skills, the knowledge and the resources to allow you to get unstuck or for you to get control of your life. It is a partnership that allows you to plug into everything the counsellor knows about helping you.

For some pointers see What You can Expect from the Counselling Relationship.

Information provided by thanks Dr. Margaret DeCorte, Ph. D., C. Psych. and her youth crew at Royal Ottawa Hospital, Ottawa, ON