The guide to being a perfect client

3rd September 2023 | Personal development

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As a counsellor, I understand that many clients come to me with high expectations of themselves. Some people seek perfection in all aspects of their lives, including therapy. However, this attitude can be detrimental to our mental health and therapy goals. In this blog post, I will explain why there is no point in trying to be the perfect client, but also highlight ways to get the best out of your time in counselling.

Firstly, perfectionism is a common issue. Left unchecked, it can lead to anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and other mental health challenges. Perfectionists set unrealistic expectations for themselves and become distressed when they fail to achieve them. This mindset can transfer to therapy, where clients may feel the need to have everything sorted and perfectly articulate their thoughts and feelings during sessions. However, this is not necessary for effective therapy. A counsellor’s role is to provide a space where clients can explore their emotions and difficulties without judgment or pressure.  Thoughts are often jumbled and chaotic, and that is fine. Effective counselling helps us make sense of our overwhelming and out of control thoughts and feelings, helping us get a clearer understanding of what is going on for us.

Secondly, therapy is a collaborative effort between the therapist and the client. It is essential to have an open and honest relationship to achieve therapeutic goals. It is okay to make mistakes or struggle during therapy, and it’s the therapist’s job to guide the client through them. Attempting to be the perfect client can hinder the therapeutic process, as the client may withhold information or present a façade of how they think they should be presenting to their therapist.  We want to see the real you!

Thirdly, trying to be the perfect client can create an imbalance in the therapeutic relationship. The therapist may feel that the client is not being entirely honest or may feel uncomfortable bringing up issues that the client appears resistant to address. Obviously, counselling needs to go at a pace the client is comfortable with, and we all have defenses in place to protect ourselves.  However, without vulnerability the progress of therapy can be hindered and can be counterproductive to the client’s goals.

Finally, it is crucial to understand that seeking therapy is an act of courage. Often, it is the first step towards significant change and progress. There is no need to strive for perfection in this process, as it is not possible nor realistic. Being yourself and open to the process is the best way to approach therapy.

In conclusion, perfectionism may seem like a useful trait in many aspects of life, but when it comes to therapy, it can do more harm than good. Counselling is about exploring and understanding yourself, and it’s okay to make mistakes and struggle at times. It’s essential to have an open and honest relationship with your therapist, and this involves showing vulnerability and being authentic. Trust the therapeutic process and be compassionate with yourself when things don’t go as planned. Remember, there’s no such thing as a perfect client.

I appreciate you will want to make the most of your time in therapy, so whilst there is no such thing as a perfect client, here are a few tips for getting the best from your time in counselling:

Be honest

One of the most important things you can do is be honest with your counsellor. This means not only telling the truth about what is going on in your life, but also being open and transparent about your thoughts and feelings. If you are feeling angry, sad, or any other emotion, let us know. This will help us to understand what you are going through and how we can best support you.

Be committed

Making progress in counseling requires a commitment on your part. This means showing up to your appointments on time, being prepared to discuss your goals, and following through with the work you and your counsellor agree upon. If you are not committed, it will be difficult for us to assist you in achieving your goals.

Be open-minded

Counselling is a time to explore your thoughts and emotions, which may require you to step out of your comfort zone. It is important to be open-minded and willing to try new approaches or ways of thinking. This doesn’t mean you have to agree with everything us counsellors say or suggest, but it does mean being willing to consider other perspectives.

Be patient

Counselling is a process, and progress may not happen overnight. Be patient with yourself and with your counsellor. There may be setbacks along the way, but with time and effort, you will see progress towards your goals.

Practice self-care

Finally, it is essential to practice self-care outside of your counselling sessions. This may include exercise, healthy eating, getting enough sleep, and engaging in activities that bring you joy. Remember, we are here to support you, but you are ultimately responsible for your well-being. In conclusion, being the “perfect” client is not about being perfect, but rather about being honest, committed, open-minded, patient, and practicing self-care. By following these tips, you will be in the best position to achieve your goals and make progress towards a more fulfilling life.

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