Collusion in Therapy
When you find yourself getting caught up in agreeing with the client, being fascinated by the content and asking questions for you own interest, making comments on the other people and the situation; then you are communicating a judgement and may well be colluding with them. This is different from having positive regard which means communicating your acceptance and valuing of the client without judgement.
In a typical counselling relationship, collusion is comparatively easy to avoid; in coaching it is trickier as one of the coachâs main roles is to be the clientâs biggest fan, motivator and supporter!
So the tricky part is to do this, without colluding for the problems detailed below can still occur.
Examples of collusion:
“That sounds awful for you”
“so he made you feel angry”
laughing with them when it wasn’t funny
âOh I know”
“Yes people are so……….â
“So there was nothing you could do about it”
“How uncaring of her”
Why might we do it?
Feeling sympathy, itâs easier, because the client is manipulating us, to avoid confrontation, to rescue, for our own needs (eg to be liked, in control), through boredom, through wanting to get results.
When you notice yourself doing this, or feel the impulse to do it then:
-Use empathy as a focus, NOT sympathy, getting into their experience alone, helps keep YOU out of it.
-If the CONTENT is interesting, ask how they are in it or keep paraphrasing. This moves into PROCESS and gets away from your connection to the content.
-Remember you do not know anyone else in the story and don’t know their experience so don’t pass comment on them, reflect back that this is your client’s experience of these people/the situation.