Defining CounsellingSkills Withincounselling the counsellor is aware that everyone, due to their personalexperience of the world, will understand different things in differentways. It is important that the counsellor does not try to fit clients intotheir idea of what they should be or how they should act instead enabling theclient to explore aspects of their life and feelings by talking openly andfreely. Talking in such a way is rarely possible with family or friends, whoare likely emotionally involved or in position of opinions and biases that maybe detrimental to the success of the counselling. It is important thereforethat the counsellor is not emotionally involved with the client and does notbecome so during counselling sessions. The counsellor neither judges nor offersadvice instead simply gives the client an opportunity to express difficultfeelings such as anger, resentment, guilt or fear in a confidentialenvironment. Mearns, in ‘Person-Centred Therapy Today’ (Mearns & Thorne,2008), highlights this foundation by asserting that “Part of the discipline ofthe person-centred approach is not to make assumptions about the client’sappropriate process, but to follow the process laid out by the client.” Counsellingis therefore known as a ‘helping approach’ which is used to highlight theemotional and intellectual experience of a client as well as how a client isfeeling and their views on the issue that they need help with.
The role betweenclient and counsellor has been consistently highlighted as of primary significancein therapeutic practice with an effective relationship being represented by thepresence of a defined series of counsellor attitudes or; with these attitudesand skills in place it can be argued that psychological growth within theclient or their fluid progress towards ‘self-actualisation’ is much more likelyto occur. Sanders,in ‘Counselling Skills In Context’ (Aldridge & Rigby, 2001) describes thesecounselling attitudes and skills as “…interpersonal communication skills derivedfrom the study of therapeutic change in human beings, used in a mannerconsistent with the goals and ethics of the profession of the practitioner inquestion. In addition, the user of counselling skills will find that their ownprofessional skills are enhanced by the process.
” Theuse of these skills should empower both the listener and the person being listenedto. The skill of being empathic or communicating understanding of another’sperspective for example shows respect for that individual and is an integralpart of building a working relationship. The use of counselling skills not onlyencourages the listener to participate and enter dialogue but also enables theuser to listen to another in such a way as to remove any doubt that they arecompletely focussed on them and them alone. This may include simple things suchas verbal nods to communicate understanding or appropriate eye contact to showinterest or it may involve more specific techniques such as reflecting or paraphrasingwhich can serve both to clarify that the listener understands correctly as wellas clarify the thinking of the person listened to. Summarising is similar toboth reflecting and paraphrasing with the exception that it feeds back an overallpicture rather than one specific point.
This assures the listener that thewhole issue is being followed and again gives the listener the opportunity to reflectupon it potentially enabling them to see a fresh perspective; the skills shouldbe used in a way that makes the listened to feel safe, comfortable, free fromjudgement and not simply unloading information without being truly heard.Outline The Different Roles Within WhichCounselling Skills Could Be Used Itcan be accepted then that counselling skills are not limited to trained counsellorsalone but can, in fact, be used in many professions due to the overlap betweenthe positions of a trained counsellor and those simply using counsellingskills; nurses are often faced with anxious or upset patients / relatives wherethe ability to listen and respond empathically will aid them greatly insituations where they might otherwise find themselves helpless. Teachers facedwith an upset child can use active listening to ascertain the causal,underlying problems the child is facing or a care worker for the elderly maylearn to manage silence in conversation so that the person listened to can havethe time to explain their real and a pastoral worker in a church can learn topractice counselling skills not to feel powerless in the face of distress fromgrieving relatives. From social workers to HR managers to the police servicecounselling skills can be used to empower both the helper and the helped andenable individuals to deal more effectively with issues for themselves andtheir environments. Each person’s pain is individual; A couple facinginfertility treatment might benefit and gain insight into the workings of theirrelationship and each other’s personal distress around issues often not spokenabout. A person suffering bereavement may experience a more powerful andimmediate need to come to terms with the loss of a loved one and thehelplessness, anger and feelings of loss that this might leave them with.
Anaddict might gain better understanding of their motivation to use substances orthe underlying feelings that inform their addiction and an adult survivor ofchild abuse might want to come to terms with the anger they feel towards theirabuser. Explain The DifferencesBetween Someone Who uses Counselling Skills And A Qualified CounsellorCounselling is not advice giving or persuasion; advice might not be appropriateto the client’s needs as it will be given from the perspective of thecounsellor and persuasion may result in conflict with the client and in doingso affect the therapeutic relationship adversely; a nurse might be able to giveadvice without fear of this from a medical perspective however a counsellorshould avoid this. Therewill often be an overlap between the trained counsellor and the person thatuses counselling skills.
The primary difference can be seen in the intentionbehind their use; those who use counselling skills are primarily taking onanother more defined role, be it nurse, doctor, social worker, priest or evenfriend. The counsellor however will have one role and one role only and will notbe primarily concerned with making a client physically better through medicineor attending to their spiritual needs. The BACP poses two questions that can beused to ascertain the role being undertaken: · Areyou using counselling skills to enhance your communication with someone butwithout taking the role as their counsellor? · Doesthe recipient see you as acting within your professional / caring role? Answeringyes to both questions would indicate thatthe readers primary function is not that of a counsellor. Ifsomeone is seen primarily as a nurse, pastor or teacher then they cannot, by definition,also be a counsellor. The counsellor and client should be in no doubt overtheir prescribed roles in the relationship; the counsellor and client shouldhave a contract outlining such issues as how often the counselling will takeplace, where, methods of payment, supervision, referral and the remits of theconfidentiality process as well as reference to the BACP Ethical Framework forGood Practice in Counselling and Psychotherapy. The client should be in nodoubt that the relationship is a professional one and will remain so for theduration of the counselling.Bibliography Aldridge,S. and Rigby, S.
Eds. (2001) Counselling Skills in Context, Hodder andStoughton BritishAssociation of Counsellors and Psychotherapists (2010) Ethical Framework forGood Practice in Counselling and Psychotherapy, BACP Frankland,A and Sanders, P. (1995) Next Steps in Counselling, Glasgow: PCCS Books Hough,M. (1998) Counselling Skills and Theory, Hodder and Stoughton McLeod,J. (2009) An Introduction to Counselling, McGraw Hill: Open University Press Mearns,D.
and Thorne, B. (2000) Person-Centred Therapy Today: New Frontiers In Theory &Practice, Sage Publications Mearns,D. and Thorne, B. (1998) Person-Centred Counselling In Action, Sage Publications