Counsellors help people to explore feelings and emotions that are often related to their experiences. This allows their clients to reflect on what is happening to them and consider alternative ways of doing things. Counsellors work in a confidential setting and listen attentively to their clients. They offer them the time, empathy and respect they need to express their feelings and perhaps understand themselves from a different perspective. The aim is reduce their confusion and enable them to cope with challenges or to make positive changes in their life where necessary.
Counsellors do not give advice, but help clients to make their own choices within the framework of an agreed counselling contract. There is also no clear distinction between the terms counselling and psychotherapy, and both can encompass a range of talking therapies. Typical work activities
There are various models of counselling, each with its own theoretical basis. Differences in approach can relate to the individual practitioner’s interests and training, the setting in which the counselling consultation takes place, or the predominant client group.
Counsellors working in particular fields (e.g. relationship guidance, addiction, sexual abuse or health) tend to specialise in the models most used in those areas. Work carried out across most areas of counselling includes:
establishing a relationship of trust and respect with clients; agreeing a counselling contract to determine what will be covered in sessions (including confidentiality issues); encouraging clients to talk about issues they feel they cannot normally share with others; actively listening to client concerns and empathising with their position; accepting without bias the issues raised by clients;
helping clients towards a deeper understanding of their concerns; challenging any inconsistencies in what clients say or do; helping clients to make decisions and choices regarding possible ways forward; referring clients to other sources of help, as appropriate; attending supervision and training courses; undertaking personal therapy (mandatory for accreditation); liaising, as necessary, with other agencies and individuals to help make changes based on the issues raised by clients; working to agreed targets in relation to client contact; undertaking group as well as individual therapy on occasions; keeping records and using reporting tools.
The rapport of the client and counselor is an important factor in counseling. The counselor must:
A counselor must attempt to facilitate a client to solve their own problems yet demonstrate a genuine concern and compassion for the clients dilemmas The counselor must individualize interaction depending on clients personality type. For example, does the client seem more introverted or extroverted, does the client seem to talk more logically or emotionally, does the client seem more cautious or compulsive? Initially the counselor can listen and at appropriate times reflect by restating or rephrasing what the client had expressed.
This serves two purpose. First it allows the client to feel he is being heard. And secondly, it allows for any misunderstandings to be identified and corrected. When the counselor feels he understands the just of what the client is communicating, the counselor can proceed with questions. These questions can pertain to feelings, thoughts, beliefs, expectations, past experiences, preferences, or other details relating to the issue. The client may express a goal they wish to achieve.
The counselor and the client may want to explore the ultimate objective behind the goal. They may explore other options in addressing the ultimate objective and the real issues behind the desired goal. After further discussion the counselor may choose explain the benefits of holistic health, developing ones identity, and the concepts of self-responsibility. The counselor must realize that information given to the client may take time for the client to effectively implement into their lives.
The counselor and the client should discuss how these concepts relate to the clients issues. The counselor should encourage the client to ultimately draw their own conclusions and choose the direction the want to take in resolving the issue. The counselor may challenge the client to formulate a behavioral goal to address the ultimate objective. The counselor may need to ask the client how confident they feel in achieving the particular goal. The client will judge the plausibility of particular behavior based on their perceived benefit of the behavior and on their confidence of successfully achieving the behavior. Goals may need to be scaled down, implemented in a gradual manor, or modified altogether to optimize adherence.
Creativity should be exercised to make the new behavior as rewarding as possible. Other techniques that may be implemented to increase adherence include: behavioral logs and contracts, peer or family support, friendly competition, and verbal recognition. A future appointment can be agreed upon by the counselor and client to reevaluate the outcome of the behavioral goal.
Goals may be modified and other issues may be discussed in these later sessions. In summary, the ultimate goal as a counselor is to help others understand themselves and their existence so they both may live to fully experience what it is to be human.