The fire alarm goes off in the middle of the session.... The room is double-booked.... I'm late because of traffic.... Someone's moved all the furniture.... The young person must go immediately to be vaccinated....
I work as a school counsellor and, from time to time, practical things go wrong. Of course counsellors prefer to see young people at the same time and in the same room every week. Counselling training teaches the importance of consistency and, for young people whose lives have been chaotic, consistency is vital. So I try to minimise the likelihood of these things happening by always getting to the room early, keeping up to date with whatever's happening in school, warning young people about changes and so on. But from time to time practical things do go wrong and the way the counsellor reacts is of huge interest to the young person.
"I'm afraid your room's not available because there's an exam going on this week. Did no one tell you?"
The young person is watching. If I throw up my hands in professional horror, cursing under my breath, glaring at the poor messenger and, in all sorts of other ways, indicating my disgust, the message is that untoward events like these are catastrophic and that the untoward things happening in that young person's life will also be catastrophic. But if I allow that things do go wrong, that they're not ideal but - hey - we'll cope, then the message to young people is that they too can cope. It may be unfair and annoying but we won't need to panic, we won't need to lash out. Okay, so sometimes we have to meet in a different room which is untidy, a bit cold and not entirely sound-proofed - big deal! We can make this an interesting rather than a problematic experience. After all, it's our conversation that matters, not the room in which we have the conversation.