Should I acknowledge counsellor's situation?
July 24, 2011 8:11 AM   Subscribe

My counsellor has experienced a loss herself. Should I acknowledge it?

My counsellor had to leave her practice abruptly for a family emergency, which I assume was a death or other tragedy; she's been gone for several months now. All she said was "family emergency," so I have no other details, but for her to leave her practice idling for multiple months it must be something life-altering.

She's due to return to work soon-ish. Should I say anything or acknowledge it at all? It seems odd to launch right back into my issues without saying something, but I understand the separation between her the person and her my counsellor. Better to stay silent?

Me: late 30's male, if that matters.
posted by amoeba syndrome to Human Relations (10 answers total)
Say something. Your councellor will determine how much she wants to say, but you're right -- it would Be odd for it to go unacknowleded. Something as simple as "I heard you had a family emergency; I hope everything is all right."
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:13 AM on July 24, 2011 [3 favorites]

It doesn't have to be a loss, necessarily. It could have been a very sick family member who has since recovered (this very thing has happened within my family recently). So while you should definitely acknowledge her absence, don't make any assumptions about its nature.
posted by smalls at 8:18 AM on July 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

You should talk to her. Each person is different. Bring it up and if she doesn't want to talk about it, leave it at that.
posted by TheBones at 8:33 AM on July 24, 2011

I would acknowledge it and offer your best wishes (and even admit your doubts about whether to mention it, if you like). She can steer the conversation from there.
posted by mauvest at 8:39 AM on July 24, 2011

Yes, express concern but don't press. He or she will say what they wish.
posted by fivesavagepalms at 8:39 AM on July 24, 2011

"It's good to see you again. I hope everything is okay."

I would ordinarily like "I'm sorry for your loss," but in this case, there's nothing justifying your assumption that she lost a loved one.
posted by J. Wilson at 8:42 AM on July 24, 2011 [9 favorites]

"It's good to see you again. I hope everything is okay."

I think this is a great comment. If she feels like she wants to talk about, she'll open up, if not, she'll just know that you were thinking of her.
posted by sweetkid at 8:59 AM on July 24, 2011

If it makes you feel any better, it is very, very likely she has pondered this question herself. I very much doubt she'll re-open her practice without a plan to cover her absence with each patient. By all means you should have a gracious greeting to hand (J. Wilson's is nice) but depend on her to be equipped to lead you to the line she's comfortable with - anything from "thank you" to "my mother was ill and recently died."
posted by DarlingBri at 9:28 AM on July 24, 2011

Thanks all. By her "loss" I guess I meant loss of normalcy as you're all right, I have no real idea what has happened. Just wondering what the etiquette was vis a vis her personal life.

Thanks again!
posted by amoeba syndrome at 11:34 AM on July 24, 2011

By counsellor, do you mean 'therapist?' Like psychology/psychiatry therapist?
If so, then the fact that you are wondering about her and caring about her is worthy of discussion in therapy. Definitely mention it.
posted by SLC Mom at 12:25 PM on July 24, 2011

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