How to Work at an Appropriate Pace in Counseling? (+11 Positive Signs)

In this article, we will be exploring the statement: working at an appropriate pace in counseling. We shall discuss the meaning of the given statement, the importance of pacing, signs of a good relationship with your counselor, and the benefits of therapeutic pace. 

Finally, we will be discussing relevant questions that are related to stages, structure, and nature of counseling sessions. 

Working at an appropriate pace in counseling

Working at an appropriate pace in counseling means to find a balance in the counseling relationship and to allow the client to pursue their timespan to move forward toward their desired level of growth and development. The counselor needs to be aware of the underlying emotional intensity exercised by the client in the sessions and the manner of expression of these emotions. 

Sometimes, certain counselors find long periods of silence uncomfortable and presume it is their responsibility to fill the gap to help the process of counseling move forward. However, this presumption of responsibility is unnecessary and harmful to the counseling relationship, at most times. 

Instead of relying on such tentative assumptions, the counselor should allow the client to choose their pace and work accordingly. They should not try to force or interrupt the pace of the client in any manner, as it disrupts their flow of thoughts and emotions and might end up hostile and distrustful in the relationship. 

The concept of pacing

Every client takes their own time and direction to unravel and let out their thoughts and feelings, in the process of counseling. It depends on the nature of the underlying issue or the trauma experienced by the client, their long-term coping strategies, their relationship with the counselor, and other inherent factors. 

In any counseling relationship, the concept of pacing is inevitable and essential to the healthy proceeding of the counseling process. Pacing is that process that allows the counselor to gain an idea and monitor the emotional intensity that is being expereinced by the client in every session. It enables the client to feel safe and understood by the counselor and also to be aware of their genuine and unfiltered reactions and responses to the numerous realizations, challenges, and insights that unfold in the process. 

It is best to let the client choose the pace for the sessions and to allow them to identify, acknowledge, and process their emotions and thought patterns. if by any chance, the counselor feels that the sessions are moving way too fast, they can opt to put the brakes and slow down the pace. This allows for a de-escalation of the entire process and the client can buy some time to reflect on their words and actions and move forward safely. 

When the client gains the knowledge and courage to explore and navigate their innermost feelings and their most private thoughts, it will naturally increase their level of confidence and comfort in the process of counseling and to feel secure and heard. Gradually, they will also find the space to share their most traumatic experiences and associated feelings. 


Scaling is a process that allows both the client and counselor to work with a mutual understanding and agreement. While pacing the process of counseling, the counselor should be careful not to make the client feel belittled or disrespected. The clients shouldn’t misinterpret pacing as minimization or lack of interest in their feelings and experiences. Scaling allows for avoiding this kind of danger. 

Scaling is a type of solution-focused technique where the counselor pauses the sessions several times to allow the client to subjectively rank their level of activation, from a scale of zero to ten, zero being totally calm and ten being completely overwhelmed. The aim is to measure the intensity of emotions that is being experienced by the client and if the score goes above five, the counselor can employ methods of slow, deep breathing, aromatic therapy, or other soothing body movements and sensations that help calm the body and mind. 

This process allows the client to manage their rising emotions safely and with an appropriate understanding of these emotions. It helps them to gain a good amount of confidence to explore their fears and overwhelming thoughts and to let out their hurtful experiences and feelings. 

Signs of a healthy counseling relationship

It is important for the establishment of a safe, healthy, understanding, and genuine relationship between the therapist and the client, in the counseling relationship. This guarantees the desired growth that the client seeks and allows the therapist to comfortably navigate the process and easily communicate with the client. 

The client must feel free to speak their mind, ask their concerns and questions, and the right to make the necessary choices in the sessions. Even though it’s challenging, a good, understanding counselor knows how to match the pace of the counseling sessions to the needs of the client. You can refer to the below-given signs to decide if you are with the right kind of counselor. 

  • The counselor is genuinely able to listen to your needs and understand their relevance to your well-being
  • The counselor is able to build a non-intrusive rapport with you
  • The counselor appears confident and non-intimidating
  • The counselor actively and honestly answers your doubts, questions, and peacefully hear out your viewpoints.
  • the counselor can understand your vulnerabilities and respond to them appropriately. 
  • The counselor makes sincere efforts to make sense of your needs and justifications that you express during the sessions.
  • The behavior and the demeanor of the counselor conveys a sense of safety and well-being.
  • The counselor makes you feel involved and engaged in the process of counseling.
  •  The counselor expresses genuine empathy and understanding of your issues and associated emotions.
  • The counselor establishes healthy and meaningful boundaries with you and allows you to express discomfort or changes you require to be accommodated into the process. 
  • The counselor enables you to gain a better awareness of yourself and encourages you positively to grow and heal in the desired way. 


In this article, we discussed the topic: working at an appropriate pace in counseling. We briefly explored the meaning of this statement, the nature, importance, and way of the process of pacing in counseling, the use of the scaling technique, and the signs of a healthy counseling relationship.  

FAQs: working at an appropriate pace n counseling

What are the three stages involved in the counseling process?

The three main stages involved in the process of counseling is the exploration stage, the challenging stage, and the action planning stage. In other words, there is a beginning, middle part, and an end to the process of counseling. The beginning stage is where you make the client feel comfortable and give them ample space and time to open up about their most daunting concerns and issues which is disrupting their daily functioning. In the exploration stage, the client is also provided with a confidential contract which is signed by the client, and the goals and needs of the client are discussed thoroughly. 

The middle stage or the challenging stage involves the creation of rapport between the client and the counselor. The client starts to feel increasingly comfortable with the counselor and the counselor tries to establish an honest line of communication with the client through empathy, understanding, and employment of techniques such as paraphrasing, reflecting, and summarising. The counselor also engages in mindful questioning and allows for periods of silence, when required in the process of counseling. 

The middle part is where the client learns to gain an insight into their feelings and thought patterns in general, or concerning particular circumstances or events, hopefully. They start to feel less disconnected from themselves. The counselor further uses personalization statements to help the clients better understand their emotions and feelings.
The end part of the termination stage of counseling is where the client starts to become completely aware of their mental and physical mechanisms and response system that makes them who they are, at a given instance, and this awareness starts to become clearer, as time passes. The termination stage indicates the beginning of the process of action planning. 

In the process of termination, the counselor allows the client to come forward and honestly acknowledge if they have felt understood and heard in the whole process and make use of the help of a summary for an overall context of the presented material and to make the client feel secure and composed. The termination stage is crucial for the successful completion of the process of counseling and for the client to feel empowered and independent by the end of the counseling sessions. 

What should a counseling contract include?

The counseling contract should include all the necessary details concerning the counseling sessions and the other relevant information. It should include the fees you pay, the time of your appointments, the frequency of the sessions, and the expectations of both the client and the counselor. The contract should also clearly state the confidentiality of the client information and 
informed consent of the client. 

The counselor can also include rules and regulations that will have to be followed by the lenient during the sessions and the code of ethical considerations that have to be borne in mind. The contract should be mutually agreed upon by both the counselor and the client. If the counselor wishes to record the session, it must be done only with the informed consent of the client. 

If the client wishes to cancel sessions, he/she should inform the counselor twenty-four hours prior. If this is not followed through, the client must pay for that particular session. 

How do you set boundaries with therapy clients?

The setting of boundaries in the counseling process is extremely important for both the parties involved. The below-given guidelines can be followed for setting healthy boundaries with the client:

Put a limit for self-disclosure
Establish fair, rational, flexible, and necessary rules and regulations in the sessions.
Avoid involving any other person related to the client in the process of counseling. 
Strictly take care not to involve in any kind of romantic or sexual relationship with the clients. Maintain the ethical considerations of the contract persistently
Strictly avoid any kind of social media connections or interactions with the client or people involved in the client’s life. 
Do not encourage the client to interact with you in public places and kindly decline any offers or invitations provided by the client for meetups or associations outside the therapeutic environment and relationship 
Take breaks in between the sessions, if required. 

Do therapists get attached to clients?

Some therapists may feel attached to their clients depending upon the circumstances and the nature of the clients. This also depends on the level of empathy the therapist feels for the client. Therapists tend to love their clients in different ways and sometimes, the therapists don’t love their clients at all. They might adopt a completely objective and rational approach towards their clients to avoid the element of attachment. 


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