Coping with clients who bring others to therapy!

I have seen a number of clients recently who have come to counselling because of the difficult behaviours of partners or children.  This is always a difficult one, as clearly we cannot change the other person but we need to be there for our client and help them to feel heard and understood.  There are a few things we can do:

Help the client present to respond differently to the other person’s behaviour.

Help them to be aware of when their buttons are being pushed and either choose not to respond or elect to respond differently. This will prevent the argument, discussion or issue escalating and give our client back control of the situation.

We can help the client understand why the ‘other’ is be behaving in the way that they do.  This understanding can also elicit a different response, more empathic maybe, so that the other party feels heard and understood rather than irritated or taken for granted.

Sometimes it is useful for the client to get help from another family member.  If the problem is a child or teenager, maybe more interaction with the other parent could be useful to diffuse repeated arguments, so that the client is not always the one saying ‘no’.