The Nerve of Some Clients

My client was not listening.

Yes, I know it sounds inconceivable, but that was the case.

I had listened to his story in session one, diagnosed all of his issues by session two, and formulated a treatment plan by session three that even (in my modest opinion) should be framed in the hallowed halls of the ACA (American Counseling Association) to be gazed upon with awe and reverence for the rest of antiquity.

That was a month and a half ago.

And now, here I sit in session nine and the client has yet to make progress on even one of the treatment goals that I created. Not one. Every session we reviewed them and every session there was no progress.

Doesn’t this client know that I have years (well, at least semesters) of the best counseling education that money can buy?

Doesn’t the client know that I have read (well, at least heavily skimmed) the great works of Adler, Freud, Perls, Erikson, Jung, Rogers, and others?

Doesn’t the client know that I am just years away from being published in every major counseling periodical and publication?

The nerve of some clients — to actually have their own ideas about how to run their lives.


Yes, this was a facetious and totally fictitious rant, but I would suggest that some of these same thoughts have or will dance in our heads.

Clients make their own decisions, because it is their life!

We can come up with the best treatment plans, but the client has to agree and want to carry them out.

We may like our clients, have empathy and high hopes for them, but we cannot LIVE for them or – even worse – try to live THROUGH them.

At times, as counselors we can forget that God alone has the patent on perpetual wisdom.  We do the best we can for the client, but that is all that we can do, which is a blessing, because who would want to have the power and responsibility of other people’s lives in your hands? (I will ignore the people who actually did raise their hands).

The client has given you the gift of their presence and you give them the gift of your care and your service.

We must respect that fact that the client is probably nervous, vulnerable, unsure, and wounded, and they still came in the door to ask for your help.

That takes courage, trust, hope and, well  . . . nerve.

The nerve of some clients . . . :)

8 thoughts on “The Nerve of Some Clients

    • Thank you! There are moments when you feel that you are totally lost!! Hopefully those moments will come less and less. Blessing to you in your counseling journey!!!

  1. You had me going for a minute. I was thinking “what in the world . . . ” You do have a creative style. Thanks for this offering.

    • I know!! The challenging part is that at times there can be that over-whelming confidence, but there is always a client that will bring you back to earth!

  2. Very well spoken! It is a delicate balance of give and take, but our client’s choices are always theirs. We can’t – and shouldn’t want to – take that away from them.

  3. Well put! As a counseling client it is good to read someone acknowledge the struggle clients go through just to enter into therapy or counseling. One of the greatest gifts we can be given is that of someone actually, actively listening and not just jumping to solutions we can’t even fathom the possibility of adopting. There is such a difficult journey from first opening up and then eventually gaining the trust and self-confidence to actually step forward and change. For me the change has been slow because the trust issues were, are, so very deep. We can’t force change on ourselves or others we have to choose and before we choose we have to build up the strength that comes from the caring, patient support of therapists or counsellors.

    • That was wonderful! Thank you so much for sharing! It definitely is a journey and trust is not easy and at the same time so worth it! I salute your courage thus far and pray blessings on your journey.

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