Counselling in Oxford

Bill Imlah :: Counselling in Oxfordshire



Blog » Encoded messages and missing links


9 Oct 2011

As a counsellor, sometime I get messages from people about their feelings toward me in encoded form.

Client: 

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

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.

In this situation (a hypothetical example - to preserve confidentiality I never use real examples in my blog) I may or may not be right in suspecting that this is an encoded message about the therapeutic relationship, but it’s 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 you that feels to difficult or unsafe for to express to me (such as something difficult about our relationship), then what you say 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 people to bring up, what does get expressed sometimes has a connection.

Images used in this blog.