Good Essay On Counseling Skills Involved In Therapy
A number of individuals find that they counsel other even though they may have little or no formal understanding in counseling. Many people will, at some point in their lives, find themselves in the role of a counselor without having a clear understanding of the concept of counseling or what the role of the professional counselor entails. One must note that a professional counselor is fully trained in the principles of counseling and empathy, and therefore uses a wide range of techniques to helps the client to deal with negative feelings or thoughts. In fact, it is not as stigmatizing as the helping relationships of the traditional psychiatric or medical treatment. Counseling is a form of therapy that includes talking where an individual talks about their feelings and problems in a dependable and confidential setting.
Counseling refers to “principled relationship characterized by the application of one or more psychological theories and a recognized set of communication skills, modified by experience, intuition and other interpersonal factors, to clients’ intimate concerns, problems or aspirations,” (Feitham & Dryden, 1993). Its principal philosophy is one of facilitation rather than one where one gives advice. Counseling can be for a long period of time or very brief, in a private or an organizational setting that intertwines with medical, practical, or personal welfare. Additionally, counseling is a unique and emergent profession that individuals undertake as they agree to share the roles of client and counselor. The American Counseling Association (ACA) defines professional counseling as the “application of mental health, psychological or human development principles, through cognitive, affective, behavioral or systemic interventions, strategies that address wellness, personal growth, or career development, as well as pathology,” (Gladding, 2014).
Empathy is a counseling technique that involves compassion and sensitivity. In psychology, “empathy refers to the ability to see things through someone else's eyes,” (Cavicchio, n.d). Many counselors are emphatic individuals who shift from a personal perspective to one that adopts the perspective of others. Nearly every trained or untrained individual has the ability to empathize with others, but during interpersonal conflicts empathy is not employed. Still, an emphatic statement softens the adverse dynamics, (Cavicchio, n.d). In counseling, probes solicit “additional information about the client's thoughts, feelings or behaviors,” (Probes, n.d). Additionally, probing uses open-ended questions that starts with “how,” “why,” “who,” “where,” and “when,” and close – ended questions that start with “do you,” and “are you.” Closed questions aids the counselor in coming to a particular conclusion based on specific information, while open-ended questions allows the counselor to gather information that gives the client the opportunity to express self in the most comfortable way.
According to Health Psychology Consultation (2011) nudging as a counseling technique requires that the counselor use a subtle approach to effect the direction of the client rather than using overt techniques to “change” the behavior of the client. On the other hand, “summaries are brief statements of longer excerpts from the counseling session,” (Encouragers, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing, 2009). The counselor summarizes periods of time and takes out the main ideas and restates the ideas for the client as accurately as possible. Prompts are verbal or non-verbal “encouragers” that motivates the client to talk freely even as the client explores detailed issues that provides accurate responses in the client.
The client has concerns about the strained relationship with her partner which is a result of the client wanting to pursue a higher education.
Counselor: How are you feeling today?
Counselor: I realize that there is something bothering you. Do you want to talk about it?
Counselor: Why do you say that? (Client pauses.) What do you want to talk about then?
I see that there is something bothering you Marianne, but sometimes talking about your problems give a clear picture of how to handle things. Just take your time Marianne.
continue with my studies and he insists that a woman’s place is in the home to take care of the house and the children. I cannot begin to think of how he came to this old-fashioned belief. I mean it is the 21st century. How can a woman not gain an education?
Counselor: How does this make you feel?
Counselor: So you are saying that Jerry does not want you to get a higher education because
he believes that women are homemakers? (Client nods.) And this makes you angry. (Client nods.) Have you ever tried talking to Jerry about his reasons for concluding that women do not need a higher education?
Counselor: I see that you are frustrated because you but how do you think that you can help to keep these two things that are so important to your life? If I tried to mediate between you and Jerry so you think that would help your situation?
Counselor: Let’s take this slowly. What do you want most? Your education? Or your relationship?
Counselor: Why don’t you take Jerry to me tomorrow and we can talk about this?
Counselor: Very good. See you have a new angle on the situation. Take him to me tomorrow and we can try to work this out where you tell him how much this is affecting you and how he feels.
Counseling sessions provide a number of limitations that impact on the desired behaviors
of the client. Probing questions elicit responses that may not have been entirely that of the client and shows the influence of the counselor on the decisions of the client. In addition, too much empathy from the counselor may draw the client lean on the counselor as a source of solving the problem and can also overburden the counselor who has a number of clients to deal with. The counselor becomes overwhelmed by the client’s responses and needs and becomes attached to the situation that makes it unprofessional. Summarizing the client’s responses at the wrong time can lead to painful memories that client would prefer to repress at the moment and in some cases this can be misleading as the counselor restates unsaid ideas or thoughts. In probing the client, the counselor may overstep boundaries and ask questions that may lead to hidden emotions and infringe on the client’s personal life that does not relate directly to the session.
Additionally, the counselor and the client face a number of challenges through nudging, emphatic responses, prompts, summarizing and probing. While a counselor may encourage the client to talk, there are some clients who prefer not to talk. The counselor will undoubtedly find clients who seek counseling but who are unwilling to talk even though the session is pointless if the client does not talk about what is happening. Prompting, summarizing and probing are techniques that elicit responses but the emotional distress of the client may force the client to maintain silence and create a frustrating session for the counselor.
Additionally, the counselor faces the greatest challenge while employing the empathic responses as many counselors find themselves overly committed and involved in the session. This extra involvement can lead to a breakdown in the professional barrier as the counselor unconsciously takes the side of the client and can no longer be objective in the session. The fact is that counseling is based on the counselor’s ability to be remain unbiased becomes threatened especially if the counselor has a personal experience with the particular issue. The inability to be objective in counseling sessions does more harm to the client than good to both the client and the counselor.
Boundaries in counseling add to the relationship between client and counselor. These boundaries surface through when the counselors use probing. In many cases the client shuts out the counselor as the client might believe that the counselor wants too much information that delves deeper than the surface. In fact such issues may lead to too much or too little self-disclosure. Empathy too may lead to the counselor crossing personal and profession al boundaries in the session. Additionally, empathy leads to over-identification, as the counselor put becomes overly involved with the client issues. As such, the counselor should maintain some form of appropriate boundaries.
In concluding, the client and the counselor complement each other in a counseling session. Most clients come to the session and are embarrassed by their current situation that they do not talk about the problems that they are facing. Still the client’s desires help to cope with the problem that they face. The fact is that the counselor must maintain a strict balance while using the counseling techniques as too much use of the technique or too little use of the counseling technique determines whether the outcome of the session is positive or negative. Each technique has its place in the counseling session and the counselor must maintain a balance in order to maintain a professional balance in the session.
Encouragers, Paraphrasing and Summarizing from Professional Development on July 21, 2009
Retrieved from http://www.counsellingconnection.com Accessed January 26, 2015
Feitham, C. & Dryden, W. (1993) Dictionary of Counseling. London, : Whurr
Gladding, S.T. ( 2004). Counseling: A Comprehensive Profession (5th edition). Upper
Saddle River, NJ: Merrill/Prentice Hall. P 6-7.
Health Psychology Consultancy (2011, July 9) “Nudge Theory” Retrieved
https://healthpsychologyconsultancy.wordpress.com Accessed January 26, 2015
Probes, (n.d) Retrieved at http://www.csun.edu. Accessed January 26, 2015
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