Counseling as a Novel Relationship


By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Counseling questions

Counseling questions.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Counseling involves a novel relationship between the client and the counselor.

By novel, I mean new and original, unlike others in the client’s life, not novel as in fictional long story sense, though there are elements of the relationship that are fictional and we need to avoid moving the relationship that happens in the counseling room out into the real world. We do encourage the client to use the sessions to learn and practice new skills that they will be using in their other relationships.

The most commonly talked about relationships are the romantic, sexual ones. But everyone in their lifetime has a host of other equally important relationships. We are first children of parents, grandchildren, siblings, cousins, and other relatives. We may have more distant relationships with parent’s friends, neighbors, neighbor’s children, and others we meet. In school we have teacher-student relationships and peer relationships, quickly follow by coworker and boss relationships and those most problematic romantic relationships until at last, we reach the parent-child relationship again, this time as the parent. Drug addicts and alcoholics develop a relationship with their drug of choice that is often more primary than any other relationship in their life.

While some of these relationships are therapeutic, and some may be destructive, none are quite like the relationship a client and a counselor develop.

The counseling relationship is therapeutic because it involves “unconditional positive regard” for the client. Clients, even young children, have been in many relationships before they get to counseling but it is unlikely that any are as nonjudgmental as the counseling relationship. Family and work relationships are and need to be judgmental.  The counselor is prepared to hear anything the client says and while they may not like something the client has done, they should continue to have regard for the client.

Counseling relationships develop into extremely intimate emotional relationships. For a brief time each week two people meet and the client tells the counselor their thoughts, their desires, their fantasies, and their frustrations knowing that their secrets are or should be solely between client and counselor. Keeping these secrets and not betraying the client’s trust is one of the highest responsibilities of the counselor. Outside of a few legal “mandates” like suicide and child abuse, clients can tell counselors anything even past crimes, knowing the counselor wants to help them change.

So for that brief moment in life, the therapy hour, the client can suspend their caution, and build trust by practicing self-disclosure with a caring professional.  The therapy hour can be a corrective emotional experience working through past hurts. It can also be a laboratory for the client to learn and practice new interpersonal skills. The time can be support during crisis or consultation for life’s choices and changes. In that hour the client opens their inner world to another human being expecting that they will be cared for and not judged.

When that hour ends, the client takes this experience with them into the outside-of –therapy-world knowing that their secrets and conflicts are safe. When two people connect in therapy it can be magical, but the real recovery, the real healing takes place in the living of life after therapy.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

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2 thoughts on “Counseling as a Novel Relationship

  1. Pingback: Should I tell my therapist about Porn? Morning Question #21 | counselorssoapbox

  2. Pingback: What if a client tells you they had sex with their last psychotherapist? | counselorssoapbox

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