Let me introduce Bandara. Bandara has been working as the number two in a medium sized organization for ten years. It has always been intimated that when Jeremy his boss retires or leaves, Bandara will slip into the number one position and lead the organization. Barry has always had some clear ideas on how he is going to take the organization forward when Jeremy is not there; ideas that have not been taken up in the past.
Life being perverse, it had been decided to advertise the job externally and guess what? A better candidate came up who has now been in post for three weeks. Bandera’s new boss is a great guy, very friendly and supportive . . . but, he is not Barry. Barry has been to a counsellor for few sessions. Today is a new session.
Counsellor: “Well Bandara, your new man is now firmly in position, so how does that leave you?”
Bandara: “Adrift, de-energized, de-motivated, thwarted, un-trusted, rejected, passed over. Does that sum it up?”
Well what an outpouring of emotion. This guy is in real trouble.
Counsellor: “Can I add another one – rejected?” Bandara: “Of course that says it all. But I am clearly not as good at this job as I thought I was and that makes me feel insecure and uncomfortable. They have chosen this new guy over me – after all I have done here it does not seem fair. In fact, life does not feel fair at all.” How is this for a good counselling challenge? Which one of those key words above should our counsellor pick on first? Which of these is getting to Bandara most? What, if our counsellor mines deeply enough will help Bandara pick himself up and start regaining his customary enthusiasm? Counsellor must not be judgmental here, so he will ask Bandara.
Counsellor: “Bandara, you have used a lot of what could be described as emotional words here, can you pick out one that really stands out? If you look inside yourself, what feeling are you seeing, feeling or hearing?”
Bandara: “Phew that is not easy. My mind is going round and round with all these feelings. What did I do wrong, I ask myself constantly?”
Counsellor: “So what did you do wrong?”
Bandara: “I took it for granted that I would get the job; that I was the best man for it; that I knew so much about the organization that I was indispensable; that I had such great ideas that I was the obvious person for the job.”
Counsellor: “Bandara, did anybody else in the organization know anything about these ideas of yours? Have you discussed them in the past?” Bandara: “Well, no. They were always at odds with the fundamental direction that we were going so did not raise them.”
Counsellor: “Despite the fact that you had not discussed this openly, do you not think that over a period of 10 years, somebody would have got an inkling of your views?”
The counsellor is digging and digging here, not letting go and is on the point of getting Barry to understand for himself some of the reasons why he may not have been picked for the job.
Bandara: “Ummm, never thought like that. I a funny sort of way, thinking about it now, I have always been at odds with the culture here, despite that fact that I have been praised and rewarded for my efforts many times. Thinking about it that there has always been conflict in my sub-conscious and I had not realized it until now. The question is . . . what . . . how . . . well, oh dear I have got some very difficult resolving to do.”
Counsellor – let the silence do the heavy lifting again.
Bandara: “It makes sense that somebody here would have had inkling about my thoughts – ten years is long enough for people to do that. Oh dear, I may have shot myself in the foot here and been my own worst enemy. Wow, what a horrible realization.”
The counsellor has done a great job here. A few questions have got Barry to look at and inside himself and he has come up with his own self diagnosis. Bandara has also moved from his “old brain” into the analytical part of his brain thus removing the emotion for him. The coach dilemma here is that having enabled Bandara to take himself apart metaphorically, it is necessary to allow him to get himself back together before the end of the session.
Counsellor: “Bandara, if I were in your position, what would you advise me to do?”
Well done again counsellor. Getting an objective view on this.
Bandara: “Well that is simple. Think through the ideas you have always had, refine them and get them out of your head and onto paper (or a Word document). Not too long. Do not spend too much time on it and keep it very brief – an overview. Arrange to see the new number one, preferably off site at a neutral venue, and tell him that you have always had these ideas but never shared then and you would now like to share them and if anything was that good, maybe the organization can adopt them.
You will either get an acceptance, in which case you will achieve what you have always wanted or you will have a debate as to what can or cannot be adopted and you will have at least cleared the air for yourself.” Counsellor: “So Bandara what are you going to do?”
Bandara: “Crafty – you have got me to resolve my own dilemma. Clearly, I shall take my own advice and do just what I have recommended.
Thanks sir. I have gone from tragic to magic as Walt Disney would say and it’s all down to you. Thanks.”
Not crafty, just a great counselling session. The counsellor was faced with what appeared to be a somewhat intractable problem which was solved by some excellent questions and techniques.
Would you have handled this in the same way, or is there a better way?
Instructions to students
1 Read the case individually at least twice
2 Try to answer the following questions
a) What is Counselling?
b) What are the skills required for a counsellor
c) What are the stages of a Counselling Session?
d) What are the differences between directive counselling and non directive Counselling
e) What are the lessons from this case for a new counsellor?
3 Discuss your findings with the sub group members. Be prepared to make an oral presentation on your findings
4 Write the assignment and submit same before the due date. It is advisable to attach a copy of this document to your assignment
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