Counselling: When to Refer Clients

Lazarus said “Know your limitations and other clinicians’ strengths” (Dryden, 1991, p. 30).

As a counsellor, sometimes it is necessary to enable the client to find additional sources of support where appropriate. This is where counselling fits into a wider supportive network of organisations and resources.

There are a number of potential reasons for making referrals.  These include:

  • The client has another need. (e.g. they want information or advice).

  • The counsellor lacks specific skills.

  • The client requires a specialist (e.g. there is an apparent mental health problem).

  • The counsellor knows the client beyond the professional basis.

  • The counsellor and client are not establishing a therapeutic relationship for some reason (e.g. the client is reluctant to open up to the counsellor; personality differences).

  • The counsellor has difficulty with the issues being discussed because they have some kind of personal meaning or take them outside of their comfort zone.

  • No progress is being made.

  • The client is partaking in disruptive behaviour that might be harmful to themselves or others.

Referral is not a sign of weakness or lack of skill.

It does not mean that you cannot provide a safe and therapeutic environment for the client.

However, being aware of possible referral agencies ensures that the client can choose the right option for them.

At the core of making a referral is taking action that is best for the client.  The clients’ best interests should always be paramount.  


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Categories: Counselling

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

2 replies

  1. Thank you for posting this article. It is great that you highlighted that referring a client on is not a sign of weakness. We must remember that the Counselling relationship is not an equal one – As the most important person in the
    Counselling relationship is the client, not the Counsellor”.

  2. thanks for your best answers.I want to learn more about counselling.

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