Birbeck University: Introduction to Counselling Course
Term 1, Coursework essay: 19th February 2013 (submission date)
Author: Monica Malkani
Describe some aspects of your learning about helping in a counselling way and what this has taught you about yourself
This essay aims to address a number of aspects of counselling that I have found particularly interesting since starting the introductory course in Counselling in October 2012. This will include a brief history of counselling; what it means to help in a “counselling way” from both a client and counsellor’s perspective and what the course has taught me as an individual. Reflecting on the history of counselling and considering today’s society and culture, I believe there is now a greater need to help others in a counselling way than there has been before. A variety of factors such as the media, social networking, advanced technologies and an increasing focus on individualism have arguably resulted in us being less able to recognise our inner identity at a deeper subconscious level, thereby leaving us feeling less attached to who we really are and to others we might have relationships with. Many of us have had some experience of helping others in a counselling way, although we may not perceive that help to be any more than genuinely listening to someone’s problems and providing them with the space, time and encouragement to resolve them. In fact, the role of a helper, in a psychological context can be performed by anyone, not just a trained and qualified counsellor or therapist. Nelson-Jones, R (2004 p.3-10) suggests there are seven main categories of people who either use or can use counselling skills in a helping way. Some of these key categories are: • Professional counsellors and psychotherapists who are suitably trained, accredited and paid for their therapeutic services • Paraprofessional counsellors those trained in counselling skills but do not hold an accredited counselling qualification e.g. Social Workers • Helpers using counselling skills as part of their jobs where the main focus of the job may be nursing; teaching; supervising or providing services • Informal helpers such as friends; parents; colleagues Counselling skills are often used to help individuals deal with particular personal or emotional problems that can’t be resolved independently. The process of counselling aims to provide individuals with a deeper awareness of who they are, an inner strength to create their own happiness and ultimately the courage and knowledge to be able to help themselves (www.sagepub.com, Chapter 1). This was not something that personally resonated with me eighteen months ago as I failed to recognise the value of counselling and the impact it could have on an individual’s outlook in life. What the Introduction to Counselling course has taught (and is still teaching) me is the importance of self-awareness and the feeling of being comfortable in one’s own skin. As a helper, in order to be effective in understanding an individual’s issues, I need to first understand myself. As a result, I decided to start Psychodynamic counselling in January 2013. I believed it was important to experience what it felt like to be in the role of a client and understand how a relationship is formed with a counsellor. As well as being able to seek a deeper connection with my subconscious, I find myself using my counselling sessions to validate some of the discussions we have in class and put what I am learning into practice. When helping in a counselling way, it is essential to understand what this really means and to recognise the key elements that are associated with this type of helping process. One of the most important aspects of any counselling relationship is active listening. A successful relationship can only be built where there is trust, acknowledgement and understanding. When a helper is actively listening to an individual, they are “experiencing something...
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