In this, I shall endeavour to detail my development in terms of counselling student. I intend to describe where I was, where I am now and where I aspire to be.
Perhaps I should start with three questions: ‘Counselling’- why am I doing this? For whom am I doing this? How will I do this?
Why: For the bulk of my 37-year career, my role has been involved with getting information, analysing and delivering the results. Teamwork, management of resources technological, logistical and personnel have been key elements, but the goal was always results-focussed. Only the latter period of my work has been directly involved with people and their personal issues, previously ‘people’ were a ‘resource’. While I have enjoyed a satisfying and successful career, and not been an uncompassionate person, I feel I have only recently discovered qualities within myself that I can put to good use for others. This is more important to me and personally rewarding. So much for the why, but who will benefit from my training in this field? Me, certainly. Intellectually; a sense of achievement, but self-discovery leading to greater self-awareness and acceptance are equally if not more important. On the other hand, the clients make up the partnership that is the counselling therapeutic relationship. No point me having all this potential, learning and experience if I am not going to use it, is there?
As for the ‘how’… here we go.
Exposure and education
I must admit, when I first started Bedford College evening classes in 2008, as a complete novice to counselling, but interested in developing my listening skills to be a more effective manager in the workplace, I was not aware of different counselling approaches. In fact, Carl Rogers, and his three Core Conditions, was just ‘slipped-in’ almost surreptitiously.
I thought it was quite telling a short time ago, when a colleague asked, ‘what is the difference between Person-Centred and other counselling’
At one time, I did not really understand the difference, or connection of counselling with Psychoanalysis. Of course, I had heard of Freud et al but never paid that much interest. Probably through exposure to too much Woody Allen, I never related the American style of analysis with dealing with ‘ordinary people’s real life day-to-day issues, more of an affectation or status thing. My own take on counselling was more about helping ‘real’ people, and not about taking money from insecure or neurotic personalities. I was also advised by my education adviser to steer clear of PCA and aim for CBT as this is the ‘professional standard’. I had head heard of CBT but understood this as a coping strategy or treating symptoms rather than ‘counselling’ per se. I have come a long way since then, having read up on both and how they contribute to human understanding. Due to the Person-centred orientation of the CPCAB model favoured by Bedford College, in my Introductory Listening Skills, Level 2 Skills and Level 3 Studies, I feel I have acquired a fair awareness and understanding of Rogerian principles.
Those three core conditions of Empathy, unconditional positive regard (UPR) and congruence, or genuineness in the practitioner have since become synonymous with most therapeutic approaches. These are supported by three additional conditions,
1)That the client and counsellor are in a relationship in which each person's perception of the other is important.
2)The client has an anxiety or a vulnerability, that he/she wants to put right .
3)The client must perceive the therapist’s empathic understanding, to feel valued.
In addition, this approach is non-directive, the client is deemed the ‘expert’ in their own life, that the client has within themselves the capacity and motivation for change. While there are differing interpretations of PCA and the same debate about non-directive Vs directive, as detailed in The...