Marcia, 29 years of age, came to you six weeks ago with issues of poor self-esteem and lack of self worth. She has been married for 8 years to Michael, however in session she speaks little about him and when the conversation turn towards him she quickly tries to change the subject or issue. Although you have noted this shift you have not challenged her regarding this relationship as you work on different areas and issues leading up to the relationship.

At the appointed time today Marcia shows up with an unannounced Michael for her session. He said he was there because Marcia was changing and he wanted to play a role in the process, while getting a notion about what was in Marcia’s mind at the moment.

Throughout the session you watch Michael dominate and bully Marcia into answers that she, you feel, would not normally give. At one point Michael tries to stand over you when you challenge this behaviour. Throughout the session you feel uncomfortable and have feelings of melancholy for your client.

At the end of a very strained session Michael declares that he thinks it would be better if he came to all Marcia’s sessions so he can see what going on and what you’re filling her head with. After they had gone and you have reflected on the session you discover how his behaviours and her passivity have triggered feelings of unresolved helplessness in you — similar to those that you felt when your parents displayed these behaviours.

As her counsellor, how would you react to this situation?