Is it OK for a therapist to be proud of a client’s achievements?

I had an interesting experience with a client today. I have known her for probably 25 years and counselled her numerous times in that period as well as having long breaks in that time as well. She is someone also that I like as a person, so it is one of those therapy situations where the client and therapist have a good connection. You can’t manufacture this, it is either there or it is not.

I have seen her for over the last 6 months and as usual she has responded very well and has clearly made some quite significant changes in her life and relationships. Right at the end as she was leaving we were discussing this and I said, “As a result of that I am proud of you.”

This shocked me as I didn’t plan to say it. It kind of just came out of my mouth and then I heard myself say it. Then I said, “I have never said that to a client before”, and I hadn’t, not that I can recall.

Then I wondered if that is OK to say to a client. I wondered if it was a bit paternalistic (she is about the same age as I am). And if it is paternalistic what are the consequences of that. She reported that she liked me saying it to her.

Child smoke

As there was no conscious planning of this new comment it seems my unconscious made a therapeutic move. So my unconscious is doing something and I will have to find out what that is as time goes on and it becomes apparent what are the consequence of that comment to her. (This post is social media compliant)

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One Response to “Is it OK for a therapist to be proud of a client’s achievements?”

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  1. Colin Ogdon says:

    Hiya Tony,

    I have two clients that I say this to from time to time. Both have been coming to me for about a year and historically have a marked lack of a positive parental object. I use the commonly understood paternal message because I’m aiming to be introjected in that way. The same as when I may use a mirror transference to enable a shared positive self view with clients where an external locus of control is their usual path. So, this is the long way of saying it, perhaps subconsciously you saw a need for some kind of idealised parent transference, and just went for it. Like the original parent was meant to.

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