Avoiding Dependency in Therapy

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Previously I have written a brief explanation about emotional dependency and its symptoms in a relationship, I will now explore how a counsellor working with a client with emotional dependency issues can negate the client becoming dependent on them.

“In truth, for psychotherapy to be effective, a degree of emotional dependency is inevitable” (www.afterpsychotherapy.com), this comment makes it clear that no matter how careful counsellors are at some level a client, even one without dependency issues can come to rely on a counsellor, sometimes it can even be beneficial for them to do so, after all they need to feel safe and secure for the therapy to as productive as it can be, especially in Person Centred therapy, the relationship is key to the healing process. However, in good therapy this is a temporary, understood and controlled dependency. The aim of therapy is to use the relationship to help the client become more emotionally resilient and dependent on themselves instead of other relationships.

To help with this it is useful for the counsellor to have a clear set of rules, or counselling contract they can explain to the client about their role as a therapist, when they will be available, the rules around booking and cancelling session, answering the phone/emails/texts outside of the therapy session, and a clear conversation about ongoing reviews and a planned ending.  This will hopefully avoid the counsellor becoming the one who allows the client to become dependent on them, they will only adapt the clear rules if it is clear the client’s dependence has found a way around them. It is also helpful for the counsellor to directly recognise any dependency they notice and have open discussion with the client to aid healing and growth. Reviews will help the client to see development and build self-worth, good techniques of cognitive behavioural therapy homework will be to help the client build self-reliance and thus learn techniques to minimise dependency, to help the client build an inner therapist. Most importantly it a clear structure to sessions and a clear limit to counselling may be important when working with cases where emotional dependence may be a therapy issue.

Hopefully this has clearly explained emotional dependency and its symptoms when it is present in a relationship and how a therapist could prevent the development of emotional dependency on themselves as a therapist.

If you’d like some face to face counselling in the Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle-under-Lyme or Staffordshire area please do contact Wright Minds at laura@wrightminds.co.uk or on 07598810304