How Often Have You Thought You Were Finished . . .

when you weren’t? What I’m talking about is having counselees return for more counseling in four or five weeks after you dismissed them.

Well, if that’s a problem, let’s think about it for a bit. What could be the reasons for this, and what can be done to prevent it in the future?

There may, of course, be several reasons for this problem, some of which may be peculiar to your style of counseling. I want, however, to deal with those reasons that are more common. In particular, there are three.

  1. The new ways that you helped the counselee to put on did not become rooted and grounded before you dismissed him. Both he and you were interested in closing it out, so you did so without any way of first determining that the counselee was ready to leave. Apart from your continued coaching in the new ways, he reverted.
  2. Someone who is close to your counselee exerted pressure on him to fall back into his old patterns. You failed to check up on whether there were such persons within the counselee’s sphere of activity who might cause such problems, so you didn’t warn and equip him against their pernicious influence. Again, he also needed further grounding.
  3. You missed some item of importance when counseling that has now appeared on the scene for the first time. Either he failed to tell you about it. or you failed to unearth it (even if it were the former, you probably should have been able to pry it lose).

OK. Now what can be done in the future to guard against these all-too common counseling failures?

I suggest one thing that in most cases will do so—instituting the 6-week check-up. I am not going to attempt to go into it in detail, because there isn’t space here to do so. And because I’ve already spelled it out in great detail in a book entitled, Three Critical Stages of Counseling—the third being termination.

The largest portion of that section concerns the 6-week check-up. What this program involves is a six week period when the counselee is on his own giving himself his own homework which he brings for evaluation at the sixth week’s session. You can see how this—done well—can prevent such happenings as mentioned above. At any rate, you must learn some way of properly terminating sessions, I suggest that it be by a transition such as I have described in depth in the book.

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