How to be a Successful Client


I don’t recall ever having a client I didn’t like. On the contrary, I have genuinely liked and enjoyed most of my clients. My favorite clients of course, are those who make progress.


No matter what your issue, or how the rest of the world sees you, if you make progress, I’m gonna love you.


You might think that the progress you make in counselling is dependent entirely on the hard work and skills of your counsellor. The bad news is it isn’t. The good news is also that it isn’t!


When I was a new counsellor and had very few skills, I still had clients who managed to make progress. Now that I have considerably more skills, I still have some clients who don’t make progress. That’s because the progress you make in therapy is dependent on both of us working together.


A Counsellor is Your Assistant

A counsellor is not a solution in itself but rather a tool for you to use. To be successful, you have to find the best tool possible, then do your best work.


There are many additional tools to help you grow and change; books, websites, yoga classes, meditation, workshops, you tube videos, apps, just to name a few.


If you have a clear understanding of what to expect from counselling, and what your counsellor expects of you, you increase both our chances of success.


Below is a list of behaviours of a successful client, based on the many wonderful clients I have seen over the years.


A Successful Client:

1. Has a clear understanding of what they want to change even if they don’t know how to change it,


2. Knows that I am a source of information and support, but I don’t have the power to change them,


3. Knows that change requires effort and practice,


4. Accesses additional information and resources to reinforce and augment what they’re learning in counselling,


5. Completes any homework assigned,


6. Incorporates the skills they learn into their daily lives,


7. Takes notes about their emotions, thoughts, and behaviours during the week to talk about in therapy,


8. Understands that therapy is not just about getting emotional support, it’s about getting support to make changes,


9. Is honest with themselves, even if it hurts,


10. Forms a relationship with me based on mutual respect,


11. Works to be honest and genuine with themselves, their counsellor, and eventually, others in their lives.


You Will Succeed

If you do even some of these things, you will significantly increase your chances of succeeding in counselling. And if you are going to pay for counselling, why not get your money’s worth?


The clearer you are about your level of commitment and what you hope to achieve, the more successful you will be.


“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

To learn more, or if you are interested in counselling services, please visit Validity Counselling's homepage,


Author: Jenny DeReis

Jenny is CEO and therapist at Validity Counselling in Prince George, BC. She has a Master's Degree in Counselling Psychology from the University of Calgary.


Jenny has intensive and advanced training in Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) from Dr. Charlie Swansen, author of several books on DBT . She has also received DBT training from the Behavior Tech Institute, and from DBT expert Sherri Van Dijk.