In a counseling relationship the battle for structure involves

In the beginning of the relationship between the Counselor and Client, Couple, Group, or Family it is the initial exchange among the parties for who is going to control the counseling or therapeutic exchange. Often, very early on, even with the first contact over the telephone or in the waiting room the client(s) will attempt to take control of or “battle” for the nature of the counseling exchange. In general, the client(s) will attempt to dominate the counselor/therapist in an attempt to unconsciously “sabotage” the relationship so they can continue to assert the behavior that they need to address by wresting control from the counselor/therapist. In most cases, if the counselor/therapist doesn’t “fight” and win for the manner in which the counseling/therapeutic relationship is to be “structured” or conducted, any further exchanges between the counselor/client will be forfeited in the favor of the client. This process then allows them to continue their maladaptive behavior because it attenuates the efficacy of the counselor/therapist. If this occurs, it is likely that the counseling/therapeutic relationship will prove to be unsuccessful, unless the counselor/therapist can “take back” dominance or control of the helping relationship.

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