Drug influenced client
29 January, 2010
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What should I do with a client seemingly still under the influence of drugs taken earlier? Well, seemingly is not the correct word – who is – would be. I decided to carry on the session. There are those who would think that absurd, maybe even dangerous?
I recall Dave Mearns (Working at Relational Depth in Counselling and Psychotherapy) relating how he counselled a client who initially came in partially drunk to sessions. He unconditionally accepted the person, was congruent and empathic. This led to a great work together. Not easy, indeed quite difficult. That perhaps is the key to person-centred work – it is together – the counsellor and client work as one. It is not them and us or us and them. There is a vibrant relationship established between counsellor and client. The whole idea of relational depth is key.
Without unconditional positive regard, congruence and empathy it cannot work completely. It is as we were taught by Clive – trusting the process. If as a counsellor I have enough trust in the process working between myself and a partially drug induced client things will work. Not that I’m saying I am in any way near Dave Mearns in experience and so on. Yet I have to trust the process …
It is not judging – it is being there for the person whatever state they are in. Accepting them and thus helping them to feel valued, perhaps for the first time ever. The process is once they feel valued and loved the change will start within. They will begin to want to stop the drugs/alcohol. We can them work together in a way that helps the individual client.
What is the alternative? Refuse to see them? Throw the person back wherever they came from? I recognise seeing a person under the influence of drugs or alcohol is not ideal but at least there is something or someone to work with. If there’re not with you, where might they be. Ideally a client would be abusing substances when they see you, but clients are not perfect – indeed far from it at times. But,then counsellors are far from perfect either. Working to develop some type of relational depth I would maintain is the way to be.
I’m sure there will be some who will be horrified by this entry. As always comments welcome. Maybe someone can show me an alternative way?