As It Is or As I Am – the Art of Becoming

A journey … towards … being

Clients who don’t attend

Just back from the youth agency where I volunteer as a counsellor. Thought I had two appointments. One at 7, the other at 8. Neither came.

The 7 I expected. I’d texted during the day to say I was well again. The last two weeks I’d been signed off sick so was unable to be there. I’d let the client know and had texts back acknowledging that, saying not to worry. Last week the text said “hopefully see you next week”. Was angry and frustrated with no one turning up and not letting me know. Someone else could have taken their place. Then, a little guilt comes – maybe there was a valid reason, maybe they are ill? But then why not phone and leave a message? The thought from some perspectives is that this is pay back. You weren’t there for me, so I’m not going to be there for you. If I have unconditional positive regard for this client, do I just accept this non-attendance? Well, yes and no. Shouldn’t let this distract from the relationship. With there being no show I called but no answer, so left a message asking if they were ok and to please let me know whether they’d be coming next week. If there is no reply by next week will phone again to say if you don’t come again without giving a reason then the time will be given to another client. There is always a waiting list.

The 8 had left a message saying they’d be there next week. Ok, not so bad.

It raises the question of youth counselling and general attendance at sessions. I’ve not had much experience of adults, except with Cruse. Out of the few Cruse clients I saw all were present.

This leaves me with the question of is it worth staying with the youth agency or do I go back to Cruse? Had taken a break from seeing Cruse clients following the death of my father last September and my father-in-law this February.

Another question is who am I doing this all for? Well, the volunteering is to get enough counselling hours to gain the diploma at this year end. Need 100 hours. The counselling is to bless the lives of others. Kind of two way street? Not quite losing myself to find myself, but sort of. The idea is to serve now to gain the diploma, being able to serve more then.

Some prayer and meditation to direct my way.


3 responses to “Clients who don’t attend

  1. Lucifa 31 March, 2010 at 22:50

    Your clients did a no show because they were angry with you. And rightly so. It is the job of the client to be angry with the counsellor and it is the job of the counsellor to be able to hold the client [emoationally] through the rage.
    I think you are looking at this ‘dilemma’ of yours through very simple lenses. It is far more complicated than that.

    On an unconsciousl level the clients will be angry with you for ‘abandoning’ them. Therapy helps the client to regress to back to childhood sometimes infancy. Whether that is wanted by the therapist or not doesnt matter. If the client was hurt or traumatised in any way at an early age s/he will regress back to that age and feel those feelings.
    Please, please please for the good of your clients read up about attachment theory. Winnicott, klein. Read about attchment in therapy too.

    You say the counselling is to bles sthe lives of others? Are the ones who are angry with you not worth your time? To give the session to someone else would repeat something terrible for them I am sure. What are you afraid of that you are thinking about rejecting them and giving their slot to someone else [someone who ‘deserves’ it]

    The fear in you keep syou from working with the real issues. And that is anger. Rage. And anger is never neat and pretty.

  2. Neil 1 April, 2010 at 08:30

    Appreciate your comments, Lucifa. Having never met I perhaps am misunderstanding a phrase. You say the client for angry with me for my not being there for two weeks. Understand that. You also say “rightly so”. Why rightly so? I would expect some clients to be angry but to have a right? Perhaps I’m misunderstanding your use of the word right?

    Yes, the ones I’m “angry” with do deserve my time, as do all clients regardless of what they bring. Yes, there can be a feeling of abandonment for them. Yes, giving the session to another client may bring back that feeling. But how long do I wait for them to appear or not appear before giving a slot to another client? An agreement is made when first seeing client at the agency that if you miss two sessions without letting the agency know, the session will be given to another. Of course the question is, with all that will be going on for a client on a first session, how much of that “contract” does a client take in at that first meeting and remember?

  3. Lucifa 26 April, 2010 at 22:45

    Hello Neil

    With ‘rightly so’I meant…. Well let me start this way…

    I will be starting my diploma in psycho analytical psychotherapy soon and from a psychodynamic/analytical point of view, the child[now client] was angry with his/her mother for leaving [just an example] or was angry with other things she did [or dad did] but was never allowed to show that anger. Or was igniored when showing anger or punished etc. Being angry and feeling safe enough with the therapist to express that anger [even if it is by not coming to therapy] is a good thing! [if the therapist sees it for what it is and works with it] It can bring huge insight for the client.

    I say ‘rightly so’ because it is the clients job to be angry. To get in touch with the anger/shadow side. And its the counsellors job [in psychodynamic/analytical approach] to work through that with the client.

    But I realise that you train person centred so I am not sure how you would deal with the anger /transfernece/projection etc of a client


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