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counselling

EAP case examples

An example of counselling ...

Thousands of clients attend our counselling sessions every year. Below, we show you some real and typical examples of our counselling work. These examples have been anonymised with the agreement of the clients involved.

  • Mr M., 47 years old, has a job in a management position. He is married and has two teenage children. He comes for counselling with his wife and began with the following problem: He is extremely busy at work and therefore only gets home late in the evenings. Sometimes he also has to work at weekends. His wife complains to him because she feels that he leaves everything to her, including the problems with their teenage children. She has already spoken about a separation if the situation doesn’t change. The resulting arguments between them mean he’d sometimes rather stay away from home and he then chooses to spend even more time at the office.

    During counselling, the couple begin by blaming each other for their problems: "If you didn’t work so much", "If you didn’t complain all the time". After the first meeting, Mr M. and his wife think about what they’re willing to change. They then set about trying to implement these changes during the course of their counselling sessions:

    • Mr M. analyses the way he works, does a bit of restructuring and finds that he works more effectively in less time. He goes home early more often and takes more time not only for his wife and children, but also to go to the sauna or to do some sport.
    • Mrs M. realises that she has devoted too much of her life to her husband and uses the time when he’s not at home to concentrate on her own activities.
    • The couple manage to agree that when Mr M. comes home from work he can spend a bit of time by himself if he needs to without being immediately “overpowered” by other family members. Afterwards, he’s usually more open to the family.

    The most important result of the counselling is that the couple find that these changes – small at first –succeed in reducing the tension and help them to appreciate each other more. In general, this has a positive impact on their relationship and the overall atmosphere at home.  

  • This impression regularly comes across in counselling. Irrespective of what the subject matter actually is: a conflict seems to be a state of affairs that most people want to end as quickly as possible or – even better – avoid from the beginning. To achieve the latter, many people pay a high price. However, conflict also brings a chance to develop. Those who avoid arguments miss out on this important opportunity.

    For example: Sandra S. shares an office with an older colleague. This colleague is in the habit of keeping the window open all day, in summer and in winter. She turns down Sandra’s polite request to air the room from time to time but otherwise keep the window closed. Finally, the two women end up arguing and the older colleague storms out of the office, slamming the door behind her. Sandra S. is upset by this and decides to apologise the very next day and to accept the open window without any further comment. She just wants a peaceful atmosphere again. If she had implemented this plan, she would never have found out the real reasons for her colleague’s need to have the window open. In closed rooms, the older lady suffers greatly from claustrophobia which she also finds embarrassing.

    Tolerating and discussing conflict, instead of avoiding it, can lead to acquiring important information. And after all, it is a fallacy to believe that things don’t exist because you don’t talk about them. They will then just smoulder away with no explanation. You have to ask what is better: oppressive humidity or a refreshing thunderstorm. Conflict and arguments are part of life. That might be unpleasant at times, but they are important for our development.

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