The Dreaded Client

The Dreaded Client

There are those clients who therapists come to dread. This is the client whose opening gambit in the session makes your heart sink, your stomach clench and sends you frantically searching your mind for something you can say that will finally relieve the client’s complaint.

The therapist may feel the dread before the client arrives or just at the mere thought of this client. We may feel relief after the session ends as if having gotten through the ordeal one more time, as well as a mixture of guilt and relief if this client decides to terminate the therapy. In fact, we may encourage termination or refer the client away—anywhere. We may find other ways to disengage from what can feel insoluble, by talking about resistance or labeling the client overly dependent.

What are we to make of this familiar predicament? Using Control-mastery theory, the presentation will examine this perplexing presentation and how to shape interventions that will help both the client and the therapist to free themselves from it.

Workshop participants will
  • Understand how the “dreaded client” presentation is seen through the lens of Control-mastery theory
  • Identify the countertransference cues elicited by the “dreaded client” and use this understanding to develop an intervention strategy
  • See how this clinical presentation actually reflects a client’s strengths and motivation to overcome her/his problems
  • Practice application of this theoretical stance on case material