I was recently asked to expand on my article about referring on clients and give examples of when this might be appropriate. The following are occasions where it could be the right course to follow:
- A counsellor may refer a client on if, for example, the difficulty the client is experiencing is outside of their knowledge base. The counsellor may have a working knowledge of say eating disorders but feels the client would be best served by seeing someone with specialist rather than generic knowledge. In addition, if the counsellor suspects there may be a medical reason for the client’s emotional state. For example, hypothyroidism which can mimic the signs of anxiety. Here the counsellor may refer the client to his/her doctor and support the client until a diagnosis is made when there may be no need for therapy.
- The client has been referred by an organization such as an EAP (Employee Assistance Programme) for six sessions of brief therapy but the therapist believes the person needs much more than the allotted sessions. Here the counsellor may feel that rather than establishing a relationship only to end it quickly, it would serve the client better to start their therapy with someone who can complete it with them. The counsellor may continue to support the client in such an instance until they have found a suitable therapist.
- Another instance is where the type of therapy the counsellor offers may not be suitable for an individual. The Counsellor believing that a different approach would be more beneficial.
- In addition, if the counsellor is in private practice and has concerns about his/her safety. This is especially true if the counsellor works on their own. Here the counsellor may refer the client to an agency setting where a therapist would have better safety arrangements, for example, always ensuring that there was at least one other member of staff on duty when counselling takes place.
- Finally, if the counsellor feels s/he is unable to work with the client. For example, perhaps the counsellor is going through a divorce and can work well with a number of client difficulties but the client’s situation too closely parallels the counsellors own difficulties. Here the counsellor may make the decision that s/he will refer on while the counsellor deals with the problems they are facing.
I hope this is helpful.