Encoded messages and missing links

9 Oct 2017 |  for counsellors | by Bill, writer at UK & Ireland Counsellor Directory

Often the client can give us messages about their feelings toward us in encoded form.


I never know where I stand with my boss.† He never really tells me if heís pleased with what Iíve done. You would think that he could say. I want to know what he really thinks of me.


That feels difficult, and ties in with what you said about him earlier.† But I am wondering if you also have some questions about what I think about you.

The therapist in this situation may or may not be right in suspecting that this is an encoded message about the therapeutic relationship, but itís often useful to work on the assumption that it might be, and to explore the possibility.

The mechanisms that underpin this can be quite straightforward at times.†For example, our thinking often works in train of thoughts, from one thought, to a related one, to a related one, each connected in some way.††

If something occurs to the client that feels to difficult or unsafe for the client to express (such as something difficult about their relationship with the therapist), then what is expressed may be something that follows in that train-of-thoughts, so that there is often a connection between what is expressed and something unexpressed.††

Since issues in the counsellor-client relationship can be difficult for the client to bring up, what does get expressed sometimes has a connection.

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