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Anna, Mental Health Professional
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1945
Experience:  Licensed Clinical Social Worker with 29 years in addictions and mental health.
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Is it appropriate for a relationships counsellor to tell one

Resolved Question:

Is it appropriate for a relationships counsellor to tell one partner in front of the otehr after 30 session of couples counselling that they are brave thinking about separation and may have a better relationship with another person, if the couple have also said that they are still overall committed to keep on trying
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Anna replied 7 years ago.
Hi Troke,

I can see how you would be taken aback by that comment, and in the situation, it could be completely wrong to say something like that. Counselors are human and make mistakes every day. Being in a position of power, we have to be very careful about what we say and how we say it because our mistakes can cause damage to people. Anyone in therapy is in a vulnerable position and that needs to be taken into account.

I suggest that you bring up your feelings about hearing that in the context of a case where the partners have committed to keep trying. It will do everyone very well to discuss this openly, and will also give the counselor a chance to explain, stand by or retract the comment.

Having said that, the counselor may have been trying to do something with that gage a reaction or to introduce a possibilty that one partner really isn't taking seriously.

Another reason may be to call a bluff. I have used that when I've got one partner who is always dangling the "I could just walk out" threat. Especially if they're doing it in a subtle way. I just bring it out into the open and say, "Yes, maybe another is better for you. You decide and let us know." It takes the power out of the implied threat and calls the bluff.

Another is to remind everyone involved that the relationship is a choice that you're making and can make others as well. It pushes people to think about the fact that they're actions and words are very powerful.

I have no clue if they were doing that, I'm just trying to let you know that I've confronted people in that way in couples counseling when I saw a space between what one or either of the partners is saying and doing.

In the end, I highly recommend bringing it up and your feelings about it. I suspect you'll get much from that session.

Thanks for this opportunity to answer your question today. Please fill out the little feedback form after accepting. If there is anything else I can help you with, please let me know.

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