My circle

Counselling Children & Young People

Who's in your circles?

My circle

With clients who feel pressure to please others or to belong to an extended family I use the circle.

I ask the client to write their name in the middle of a sheet of paper and draw a circle around their name. I then draw further increasingly bigger circles around their first circle.

I then ask: Who are closest people to you? The most important and valued?

They write their names down in the second circle, the one closest to their name. We then look at other people in their lives and place them in the appropriate circles, those with less significance or power on the client in the outermost circles. As I continue to enquire through the session, I refer back to the sheet, and ask the client to record new people as they come up, recognising the impact of them and questioning the importance of their opinion on client.

This sheet is used to allow me to understand the client’s position from their narrative and also a visual for the client to see if their extended family and friends should actually be having an impact on their lives and their significance to them.

This has proved to be a valuable tool both for me as their counsellor and to clients as they recognise that they may have misplaced people and they should be moved further away from the circle they thought they were in, freeing them from judgment and giving freedom of choice.

It’s always helpful to reverse this exercise and ask the client where they would put themselves in the other person’s circle. This allows the client to bring a balance to their relationship where there has been an imbalance of power.

A powerful exercise, which I refer back to throughout further sessions.

To protect confidentiality, all material here has been provided with consent, or has been disguised, adapted or several examples merged. Real names are not used.