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The Last Resort

Therapeutic work is characterized by a series of delicate balances. For example, your counselor should not come across as another friend of yours, but he or she should not seem like a stranger, either. Something in between is best.

One of the more important balances to strike is your counselor's attitude toward your progress. On the one hand, you deserve a professional who cares about you and your progress. On the other hand (as I mentioned in my last post), this pressure to change, to get better, is often what keeps people in their patterns. They understand that everyone wants them to get better, but something in them is resisting it.

Even more urgent is the understanding that if a counselor presses too hard for your progress and well-being, then you might be ashamed to come back if you screw up.

An example: A client comes into therapy because he wants to stop sleeping with prostitutes. His therapist helps him develop strategies for resisting this urge, complimenting him the entire time. The client gets the sense that the therapist is proud of their work together. Then, one day, the client slips and sleeps with a prostitute. Ashamed of what his therapist will think, he discontinues therapy without notice.

Therapy must be a place where all clients are free to fail or succeed in the presence of someone who wishes them the best, but will not chastise them for being human.

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