This dilemma provided some food for thought!
You are approached by a new client who wants to come and see you face to face on her way home from work at a school, she is unable to do online counselling as she does not have a private space at home as her husband is usually working from their house and he doesn't know she is coming for therapy. She tells you that she is so overwhelmed with work and home life and has no time during the day to grab something to eat.
You work with her for three sessions without any issue, but when she arrives at session 4 straight from work, she opens up her bag and starts eating a very squished Peanut Butter sandwich that seemingly has been in her bag all day. She doesn't ask if it is OK for her to eat in your office and she inhales the sandwich in moments.
The next session she arrives a few minutes late, this time she has a larger bag with her and you can smell hot food; she has been to the local chippy for Fish n' Chips. The aroma is strong and once again she doesn't ask if it is OK to eat in the office. You have an awareness that you have two other clients booked in afterwards and you feel uncomfortable that your room will smell like a chip shop.
What do you do?
1) Take no notice and work with her without saying anything, after all, she hasn't had a chance to eat all day. Open the windows and hope the smell goes before your next client comes in.
2) Inform her that you are unable to work with her anymore as it is important that she is honouring the therapy and concentrating fully on the process, rather than being distracted by food.
3) Tell her that unfortunately it is not permitted to eat in the room as other clients need to use the space and ask her if she would like to book a slightly later time in future so she has time to eat before the session. This would mean waiting for a few weeks for a later session to become available.
4) Let her know it is OK to eat but that you would prefer her not to bring in hot food, but that it is OK to perhaps bring in a sandwich.
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