Do’s And Dont’s of Psychotherapy (Client)

Building a rapport, and subsequent trusting relationship, with a counsellor requires that a client is open and honest and willing to work at identifying issues and resolutions. Due to the personal nature of the exchange, between a client and counsellor, there are strict guidelines that must be adhered to throughout the confidential counselling process.

Whilst it is generally accepted that a counsellor must behave professionally, responsibly and appropriately, towards a client during contact and throughout the client’s counselling relationship, there is also a list of acceptable and unacceptable client behaviour which must also be acknowledged.

The Client’s Role

It is the client’s responsibility to maintain focus on their behaviour, throughout the confidential one-to-one counselling sessions with a counsellor. Clients must also expect to have their self-beliefs and choices challenged,  and to maintain focus on achieving a positive resolution and outcome.

A counselling client must also maintain a professional relationship with their counsellor, which basically means that they must not confuse the counsellor’s therapeutic interest in them for friendship or personal involvement. The client/counsellor relationship must be clearly defined and respected at all times by both parties and must adhere to professional etiquette and guidelines. Failure to maintain a professional level of communication will mean the counselling relationship may not provide the client with the appropriate supportive environment to address their personal emotional issues in.

Do’s And Don’ts

When entering into a counselling relationship with a qualified counsellor, there are a number of things a client should and should not do.


A client should always check a therapist or counsellor is suitably qualified to do the job, and is also a member of a professional body. Checking the counsellor’s approach, to counselling, is also a good idea as it will give the client some idea of what to expect from the confidential relationship.

A client should openly express emotion and be open and honest about feelings and thoughts. They should also take the opportunity to review and re-evaluate their self-beliefs when it arises.

In order to get the best out of the counselling process  a client must be willing to work towards a positive outcome. This includes completing additional homework set by the counsellor, which may include effective exercises that increase personal awareness and the use of positive affirmations.



A client must not assume that the counsellor knows what their expectation of the counselling process is. Honest and open communication will enable the client to clearly define goals and allow the counsellor to plan and guide the counselling sessions accordingly, in order to work towards achieving the client’s goals and aims.

If the counsellor’s approach does not meet with the client’s expectations, the client is free to seek counselling support elsewhere. Counselling is a personal service which should provide the level of supportive assistance a client needs.

A client should not let the counsellor persuade them to commit to a long-term counselling contract. The counselling relationship should be open to review by either party at regular intervals. This will ensure the client’s progress is appropriate.