Confrontation in the counseling field is designed to provide the client an opportunity for change. According to Myers and Salt (2007), there are five elements of confrontation: timing, staying concrete, estimating, forcefulness, and monitoring the counselor.

Timing is crucial when confronting a client. The most effective time occurs when the client is open to the possibility of change and when resistance is causing the client to remain stuck in negative thinking and behaviors. Poor timing for confrontation examples include confronting clients who are experiencing a major set back, working through grief and loss issues, experiencing suicide ideation, and show signs of major depression. Confrontation during these times could be a set a back for clients (Meyers and Salt, 2007).

The use of confrontation is to provide hope and facilitate change. Staying concrete is an important part of being confrontational in the counseling setting. If a counselor is vague, opinionated, unsure, or lectures a client in can create confusion and a sense of hopelessness. It is important for a counselor to confront with simple concrete remarks that assist clients in seeing the reality of their choices, such as, “Is behaving in this manner giving you the results you are wanting to achieve?” (Meyers and Salt, 2007).

In addiction treatment, denial is common and there is limited in treatment to break through a client’s denial. Confronting a client’s denial is imperative in order for them to move past it. It is critical for a counselor to estimate how much to confront and how forceful to be in order to remain effective. Meier and Davis (1993) offer a rule of thumb: “You may confront as much as you have supported.” Although the word confrontation implies forcefulness, it can be done in with gentleness (Meyers and Salt, 2007).

In conclusion, counselers must remain neutral and do an honest spot check inventory to evaluate their motives and feelings when initiating a confrontation. Counselors’ confrontations must be done out of concern rather than anger, annoyance, power, or self-glorification. Thus, counselors need to remain healthy themselves in order to engage in effective confrontation.


Meyers, L. & Salt, N. (2007). Becoming an Addictions Counselor A Comprehensive Text. Massachusetts: Jones and Bartlett Publishers

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