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Treatment Contract

Counselling work needs all the conscious resources of the client, clear thinking, ability to reflect, active decision-making capacity, the ability to assess competences and a commitment to holding onto what has been agreed. It is very important that an agreement is formed and maintained between this conscious self-representation of the client and the counsellor about what the counselling should entail, and which objective is linked to it. Counselling requires a shared focus! For this, Transactional Analysis has created the term ‘Treatment Contract’, which we find very useful in order to give the process a contractual clarity and to give a name to the continuing refocussing of this contract. Without such a treatment contract there is a danger that either the counsellor (“I am the expert and you must believe me when I say that your symptom has this meaning!”) or the client (“Well, today I would like to work on being able to present myself with more confidence in the next meeting, and not on any other matters!”) gains too much influence. If one of the two adapts to this without it being apparent, it becomes dysfunctional. Then unconscious decision-making patterns come into play and within the consultation an important problem is maintained rather than processed.

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