Despite all the trust you have to put in the counsellor, they don’t have to trust you. This fact is quite difficult for me. You would only usually share parts of your true self with people who are close friends or family. Yet in the counsellor relationship, the counsellor always remains a stranger. You know no more about them, at the end of your therapy, than you did at the start. The counsellor becomes a part of your life, on occasions a very large part, whilst you are only part of their lives for the hour you spend with them every week.
Client / Counsellor relationship
When I first met my counsellor, she spoke about boundaries and touched on the client / counsellor relationship. It sounds strange to call it a relationship and the relationship itself is strange. You pay a total stranger to listen to you waffle on about all sorts of stuff that is “troubling you”. They watch you cry like a baby, when neither of you have any idea why you are crying. A counsellor listens, while you share your darkest secrets, you open your heart and mind, and share the things that until now have only whirled around your mind but never escape into the real world. You share your thoughts, your view of the world.
Your counsellor becomes the person who knows the true you, the inner you, the person that maybe doesn’t exist in the real world. You have no fronts to protect you in the counselling room, they are stripped away. leaving the real you (and obviously the negative voice). The you that feels vulnerable, unprotected, hurt, sad and desperate.
To be able to share the true you, you have to trust the counsellor. You have to trust they will try to help you; hope they will always have your best interests at heart. You have to trust they will always keep what you say confidential, that they won’t abandon you (that’s the hardest for me) and that they will be honest with you. I find it hard to trust people, so inevitably I find the whole counsellor relationship quite stressful.
For all I know my counsellor may hate me, to earn her money she couldn’t afford to turn away clients based on personal feelings. She may be sat there opposite me -whilst a blub away, talking about whatever springs into my mind – thinking god this hour is going painfully slow, I wish she would just shut up! She may think I am pathetic and weak, whilst telling me she knows how hard the process is and how brave you have to be.
Trust is hard
I really like my counsellor, I feel like she is really with me on this journey, she has hugged me when I needed a hug more than anything, we have danced a weird dance when the new me appeared.
We laugh together, almost every week. She has seen me at short notice when I have been really struggling – like when I thought I couldn’t go on.
She really seems to both listen and understand me. She makes me really think about things, and challenges me to think about them differently. I trust her enough to be completely open and honest with her, but I am unsure if I can ever totally trust her. That said I know she will never trust me at all, so the trust only exists on my side of the counsellor / client relationship.