1. “I know how you feel.”
- No-one really knows how another person feels.
- It sound patronizing and lacking in empathy.
- It limits exploration of the client’s feelings, and understanding more fully how things appear to them.
2. “It will be all right.”
- How do you know that it will be all right? Your assumptions could be totally wrong.
- It sounds superficial, insincere and lacking in compassion and empathy.
- It sends the message that you don’t want to listen any longer – so the client is prevented from working through their pain.
3. “If I were you I would …”
- It isn’t about the counsellor; it is all about the client and what will work for them.
- It minimizes how complex and difficult this is … and sends the message that problem is trivial and easy.
- Counselling is NOT about giving advice. The aim is “to explore to better understand” and then helping the client to choose what they will do.
4. “You should have/ you shouldn’t have …”
- The counsellor should be non-judgmental and accepting. Yet this is both judgmental and super critical.
- It is subtly guilt-tripping the client for their choice – and they don’t have to please or explain themselves to you.
- It limits problem-solving and dis-empowers the client.
5. “Wow. That’s terrible!”
- A comment like this can keep the client stuck as they now feel bogged down by “how awful things are.”
- Without intending to, it frames the client as a victim and takes away their power and autonomy.
- It keeps the focus on the past, and helps the client escape from their current and their future responsibilitie