Developing self-awareness as a counsellor is considered “central to many of the mainstream theoretical approaches” (Mcleod, 2009, p624). I will argue that without the development of self-awareness neither a trainee nor qualified counsellor can meet the core conditions set out in most theoretical approaches to counselling, congruence, empathy and unconditional positive regard. I will also argue that counselling trainees need to experience the role of client themselves before they can take others on the same road to self discovery. To answer the benefits and difficulties of the counselling trainee developing self-awareness whilst practicing skills in triads I will argue the feedback received from fellow peers can be very beneficial to developing greater self-awareness, but only if triad members can develop trusting relationships with each other which by the very nature of triads may be hard to attain and maintain.
The core conditions, as outlined by Rogers in the 1960’s, are now generally accepted as central to the creation of a successful client/counsellor relationship to enable personal change. Firstly, with regard to congruence, Rogers believed “personal growth is facilitated when the counselor ... is genuine and without "front" or facade, openly being the feelings and attitudes which at that moment are flowing in him” (Rogers, 1962). A counsellor with limited knowledge of themselves is open to client’s stories evoking feelings to which they were previously unaware leaving them unable to differentiate between their own feelings and those of their clients. This “incongruence will almost surely be picked up by the person I am trying to help, possibly making me seem unauthentic or false” (Sanders, 2011, p65).
Secondly, a counsellor unable to separate their own, from their clients, feelings cannot show empathy and also undermines their confidence of judgment. Cross and Papadopoulous argue that “Self-knowledge or personal insight enables you to avoid personal blind spots and develop trust in your observations and confidence in your practice” (Cross & Papadopoulos, 2001, p3). To further add to my argument, I also believe a counsellor cannot take someone on the road to self-discovery if they have not been there themselves. A counsellor needs to understand the vulnerability caused by self-disclosure to appreciate the importance of the client/counsellor relationship and indeed counselling theory itself. And it is especially important any deep emotional issues to be evoked during counselling training rather than as a result of working with a client in the future (Mcleod, 2009, p625).
Finally, Rogers emphasises the importance of unconditional positive regard to establishing and maintaining a successful counselling relationship. I believe you can only see others with unconditional positive regard if you can firstly view yourself under the same conditions. Before developing my own self-awareness I was incredibly judgmental toward myself but now agree that “The more a therapist accepts and values him or herself, the more effect he or she will have in helping clients come to know and appreciate themselves” (Cross & Papadopoulos, 2001, p98).
I will now discuss the benefits and difficulties for the counselling trainee developing self-awareness during skills practice within triads. I will argue that triads can be an invaluable way to aid the development of self awareness through receiving and giving feedback allowing the trainee to be viewed by a variety of different people. I also believe that using triads increases the trainees ability to recognise feelings in others and themselves. However, for triads to be most beneficial it is important for those in the role of client to use real problems for discussion. This in turn leads to the main difficulty when using triads to gain trainee self-awareness. A lack of trust in fellow triad members can limit the openness of fellow triad members and the scope for...
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