Should a Spouse or Relative contact a Counselor with a Concern? | #MyCounselorSays

Kashina Harris, MA, CIT


Kimberly asks, “Is it appropriate for a spouse or a relative to contact a counselor with a concern that they would like to see addressed?”

Read more to find out what Kashina Harris, MA, CIT, says about the importance of confidentiality, creating trust and safety in the counseling relationship, and advice for a spouse or relative in this situation.

About the Author

This article is based on scientific evidence and clinical experience, written by a licensed professional and fact-checked by experts.

Kashina Harris, MA, CIT is a Counselor in Training, specializing in marriage counseling. You can schedule an appointment with Kashina for online counseling.

Video Transcript

(Transcript is generated by a software and may have discrepancies from the video.)


Welcome to My Counselor Online. I’m Cassie and this is My Counselor Says. My Counselor Says is where you submit a question, either for yourself, or for a friend,  and one of our incredible therapists takes their time and answers your personal question. So let’s go find out what My Counselor Says.

Kashina Harris on Confidentiality Rules & Regulations

Oftentimes we see our loved ones struggling and we want to provide any help that we can. In most instances, counselors will follow the rules and regulations set forth by HIPAA, which states that sessions and clientele really need to remain confidential.

There are a few exceptions to this confidentiality, one in which if the client was posing a threat to themselves or to another person, then that would be one exception. Another exception would be if there’s a minor and they’re engaging in risky behavior, then the counselor can then disclose that to the parent.

Creating Trust & Safety in the Counseling Relationship

Really, what those rules and regulations are doing is they’re providing a place where the clients can come and feel safe. They have a place where they can open up and share freely.

These are all ways in which counselors can really provide for clients, and to really help in the progress that happens in sessions. There’s a trust there that is between a counselor and client. And if that trust is broken, then any of the progress that has happened in session could be undone.

What Should a Spouse or Relative Do?

So this is all that we have that protects the client in this question, and it really helps them in their progress. But there’s another piece of this question that I really want to speak to, and that’s the spouse and the relative. The spouse and the relative in this question has a lot of weight that they are still holding; a lot of feelings of fear and inadequacy of how they may not be able to help their loved one.

Focus on Your Own Emotions

And I want to just give a few different things that will be helpful in fostering that relationship by really allowing the spouse and the relative in this question to focus on themselves.

So often when we see somebody struggling that we love and care deeply about, we want what’s best for them. So, we will do anything to make sure that that happens. And in that process, we will avoid looking at what we need and what we want.

So number one; One of the things I think is a really valid point here for the spouse and relative in this question would be to get real with their emotions. To not set their emotions aside, but instead dive into them. Dive into them, know them, know where they come from, know their triggers, who and what triggers them. In doing this, and sitting with their emotions and knowing them, they will be able to pour into other relationships and provide that safety so that other people can be emotional with them as well.

Put Healthy Boundaries in Place

Number two: Boundaries. Put healthy boundaries in place.

It’s like putting a hedge around yourself where you’re the center. You are the person that gets to decide. You see something coming into the hedge that you’ve put around yourself, and you get to decide, hey, is that healthy for me? Is that something that I can do and remain healthy as an individual?

If it’s not, then it needs to stay outside and that boundary is there to keep that in place. So, put those boundaries in place.

Find Safe People that You Can Talk To

Lastly, I encourage the spouse and relative to find their people. The people that they can go and have a conversation where they feel safe, and they can share their emotions and they can share what’s going on in their life. The people that can speak encouragement and the people that can speak hope into their life.

Hey, I hope this response was helpful to you. If you need any other help, or if you have any more questions, please don’t hesitate to call any of the counselors at MyCounselor Online. Thanks, Kimberly.


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