Do your clients feel safe enough to cry in front of you?

11 Apr 2018 |  for trainees | by Bill, writer at UK & Ireland Counsellor Directory

One of the challenges as a trainee counsellor is knowing how to work with clients who cry.

Our natural reactions and cultural conditioning may both lead us to have the strong impulse to comfort the client - to placate and soothe. We might also display a discomfort that prompts the client to stop, or makes it feel less safe for them to start crying.

But these impulses and reactions are not helpful.

When a client cries, it's a sign that emotional processing is taking place, that feelings are being expressed, with a chance to work with the client fruitfully.

One of the best things you can do when a client cries, is nothing. Give them space to cry. Give them your attention but don't interrupt with questions; let them stay with the feeling.

If there are tissues in the room, but out of the client's reach, you might put the box next to them: give them the choice as to whether they use them: handing them a tissue may interrupt the process if they don't want it.

Exploring what the crying means for them is best done afterwards. What helped them feel able to cry - what was the thought that brought it on? In this context, exploring their thinking and feelings in the moment can help you understand the import of their tears.

With experience, your confidence will grow that the client's crying is helpful, and your ability to relax and be attentive in the presence of their tears will help them feel heard and cared-about.

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