In life there are many difficult situations that some people can just get past and move on where others become stuck and unable to move on effectively. In some cases these people will use family, friends or work colleagues to assists them, but in some cases this is either too hard to talk about due to its personal nature or the embarrassment it may cause. This is where counselling can be very useful due to its confidential and non-judgemental nature.
A good counsellor will not pass judgement on you, they are there to listen to you and work with you to find the best ways to understand and resolve your problem. Unlike just listening to friend’s problems a counsellor will follow certain guidelines. Their primary goal is to create changes in behaviour, attitudes and feelings that may have prevented the client from getting the most out of life. A counsellor will help their client use their existing problem solving skills more effectively or to develop new or better ways for them to cope.
The relationship between counsellor and client can be the most influential factor on whether counselling works. The client-counsellor relationship is unlike relationships you may have with loved-ones, or a friend. This relationship is highly specialised depending on the way it is conducted. It is usually conducted with boundaries and rules to dictate where the relationship may or may not go. Boundaries such as confidentiality can create trust therefore the client feels more at ease revealing their personal feelings.
Also the rapport that is built up over time allows the client to feel safe and again allow the client to open up and divulge more personal information. Counsellors must also be aware of their professional limitations and follow a strict code of ethics such as the Code of Ethics set out by Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia. These codes are there to protect both the Counsellor and the client. They outline the confidentiality agreement between the client and counsellor, as the client also needs to be aware that there are circumstances where confidentiality will be broken.
Other areas of limitations such as Relationship Boundaries – client relationships are to remain on a professional level Respect for the person being counselled – increase their self-worth Responsibility of the counsellor –make sure the client is aware of any organisational policies that affects their confidentiality. Counsellor Competence – Being aware of your limits professionally and personally. Referral – If a client cannot be adequately cared for you make need to refer them to another professional that is better suited.
Client-Centred Approach Carl Rogers, the founder of client-centred therapy believed that the client not the counsellor was the expert. He was a man who passionately believes in the goodness of human nature. He also believed that to truly help a client then the best thing to do was to listen to where the pain or problem was within the client. Explain to a new client the nature of the client-centred approach to counselling. Firstly I am not an expert, I do not have the answers to your problems but I believe you do.
Client–Centred therapy will place you at the centre of your own therapy, as it is you who knows what hurts and how you are feeling. With this treatment I will work to establish a relationship with you in which you are able to develop greater self-awareness. Through this, I will guide you in effecting changes in your life based on a greater understanding of your feelings and behaviours. I will be very accepting of what you say and, at the same time, I will know when what you say is at odds with how I am experiencing you.
I will try to be very sensitive in what I say to you and at the same time I would want you to experience me as being really genuine with you and not putting on any pretence. I will be very direct and honest in sharing how I experience you and the things you talk about, and you may find this quite challenging. I will try to create a safe place where I hope you won’t feel in any way judged or misunderstood. Hopefully we can create a trusting relationship so that you can be in touch with your feelings and talk without fear, about anything that concerns you.
Although this technique is slower it will allow you to be in control and also allow you to release personal information at a speed to which you are comfortable. Identify three important areas to address with clients in the initial counselling session. Counselling Ethics, legislation and statutory requirements – before you start a counselling relationship with your client, it is very important to explain that although you provide a confidential treatment. There are, as is expected of Counselling practitioners, exceptions to confidentiality.
Mandatory reporting requires the counsellor to report any concerns regarding health and safety of a minor or any concerns that the client may be in danger of self-harm. In either of these cases the counsellor is required to break the client confidentiality agreement to protect the client and the community. It is also important for the counsellor to clarify the counselling service/s offered. This needs to be explained to the client at the start of their first session so that the client is aware of the type of counselling service you offer and whether or not it is suited to their needs.
It is important to make clear that you work within your level of competence and if at any point that you the counsellor feel you are unable to address effectively, you will discuss with them and provide referrals and options for continuing treatment. For counselling to be effective and of value, both the counsellor and the client must be very clear about their expectations for the structure of the counselling relationship. Honesty and trust are the basis of the counselling relationship. Clients expectations of counselling are often preconceived ideas about how counselling works.
Often a client can have very negative feeling maybe from past experiences with counselling or some clients will believe that all their problems will be solved. It is important for the counsellor to explain to the client what is expected of them in these counselling sessions and also what the client can expect in return. Also a client should be aware of the cost, the risks and benefits of engaging in these sessions. Identify and explain two micro skills of counselling and their purpose in facilitating client understanding. Attending – Giving all your physical and psychological attention to the client.
This skill allows the client to feel that you genuinely care about their situation and you are interested in helping them deal with their issues. Using the SOLER technique can help build the rapport you need to build a solid relationship with your client. SQUARELY- always face the client to show you are focussed on them OPEN – Open posture rather then crossing arms which is more closed posture LEAN – Lean towards the client showing interest in them and what they’re saying EYE – Always maintain eye contact with them without staring them down RELAXED – Act natural
Active listening – With active listening you are able to show the client both verbally and visually that you are not only listening to them but you also understand what they are telling you. Simple techniques such as a verbal –Yeh, Mmm or a Visual sign – nod of the head or facial expression can both show that the client that you are listening and understand. It is also important when listening to the client that you not only hear what they are saying but you also must take notice of their body language so you can also hear what they are not saying.
Things such as blushing rapid breathing or even posture changes can indicate that there is more going on. Micro Skills – most counsellors, to enable them to communicate with the client more effectively and intentionally use these Micro-skills. They also help establish a good rapport, which will encourage the client to share openly. It is important for the client to understand that this is all about them and for the hour your full attention is on listening and assisting them work through their problems.
Identify and briefly describe two client disclosures that would require immediate action on the counsellor’s part and what would action you would take for each. Under Commonwealth Law Act 1975, it is mandatory in Victoria, that as a counsellor I report to the proper authorities if a client has disclosed to me during our session, that they had been sexually abusing a minor in their care. This would need to be reported as soon as it is possible either to a supervisor (who will then notify the correct authority) or by me.
It is also my responsibility to ensure that the client is not judged by me, but instead helped through this situation with the care they need. In Victoria this authority is the – Department of Human services – Children, Youth and Families. If a client was to disclose their desire to kill another person and knowing they have this ability, then as a counsellor I would need to break our client confidentiality agreement as I have a responsibility to not only the client but also to the safety of the community.
I would first discuss this with my supervisor, and then if required the appropriate authorities would be notified. In this case the Victorian Police would be the authority. Choose one of the examples of client’s strong emotional reactions and explain how you would respond in your role as a counsellor: aggressive behaviour and reaction, excessively talkative, rapid changes in emotions. Aggressive behaviour and reaction – During a counselling session my client starts to react with aggression whilst discussing an issue with her family.
My first step as a counsellor would be to try and identify what triggered this outburst of aggression. By getting the client to discuss what she was thinking just before she felt angry we were able to identify the trigger. Working through this issue and getting a better understanding, we can teach the client how to express this emotion more appropriately. Now we need to know what the client was feeling eg: heart rate increases, rapid breathing or muscles tighten up, these are all signs that the client can learn to recognise and hopefully stop before the anger takes control.
The client can learn to use the Thought-stopping technique, which is where they feel the anger outburst coming, and tell him or herself to stop whilst they take a step back from the situation. This allows the client to stop and relax whilst they decide on a cause of action. Was the client over-reacting or does this issue need to be dealt with, these are now questions the client can ask himself or herself before taking action. Identify and explain three reasons why self-reflection is an important skill for a counsellor. 1.
Self-awareness is a way for us to understand our beliefs, value systems, personalities and behaviour. It is important to spend the time to self-reflect to gain a better insight in ourselves. This enables us to build on our strengths and identify areas, which need improvement. This will give us a better insight into our limitations, which is very important as to truly help somebody through their situation we need to understand what the client is going through so that we can have empathy and be able to guide them towards a better understanding of their situation.
2. Counselling can be a very invasive, personal and confidential process for anyone. This experience can be challenging for the counsellor as they support the client through the counselling process. Dealing with private and sometimes intimate details, on any level will make a person feel exposed and the counsellor will experience this also. Maintaining a professional attitude throughout the counselling process will enable the counsellor to assist the client, to the best of their ability.
However, at the end of the counselling session the counsellor must be able to switch of this relationship with the client. 3. Knowing who we are and our beliefs and values will assist us to be non-judgemental, as to truly help the client we need to give un-conditional positive regard. If we are still conflicted over our own feelings and values then we are more likely to spend the session working through our own conflicts rather then focusing on the client working through theirs. It is important that our own personal values and beliefs do not influence the client’s decisions.