An Easy Introduction to Egan’s Skilled Helper Solution Focused Counselling Approach By Patrick JM Nelson Part One What is it? Gerard Egan’s Skilled Helper Model of eclectically based counselling provides a structured and solution focused basis for counsellors, psychotherapists and hypnotherapists. It is a three stage model in which each state consists of specific skills that the therapist uses to help the client move forwards. By mastering the process of using these basic skills in an appropriate manner (often in a cyclical process of stage 1 - 2 - 3 evaluate 1 - 2 - 3 evaluate) the talking therapist may be able to increase their efficiency and structure their work in a more logical way, thus helping clients in a more consistent manner and being less reliant upon their fluctuating ‘therapeutic inspiration’. Theoretical Origins Theoretically the Skilled Helper approach draws on Carkuff's theory of high-level functioning helpers (which explains that helpers with the skills of empathy, respect, concreteness, congruence, self-disclosure, confrontation and immediacy are most effective); Strong's Social influence theory (which explains that helping is a process whereby clients are influenced by others because they perceive therapists as having particular attributes and with this influence being most powerful when the the therapist avoids both laxity and coercion and is instead collaborative, empowering and democratic) and Albert Bandura's Learning theory (in which clients are seen as acquiring skills through coming to understand the processes of learning and developing appropriate self-efficacy expectations - expecting to achieve their goals by learning useful behaviours). Essential Therapeutic Orientations The Egan Skilled Helper approach encourages clients to become active interpreters of the world, giving meanings to actions, events and situations, facing and overcoming challenges, exploring problem issues, seeking new opportunities and establishing goals. Quite simply, success usually comes when human beings become active in initiating positive behaviours and developing problem-solving strategies.
The Skilled Helper aims to help their clients develop the skills and the knowledge necessary to solve both their current problems issues and ones that may arise in the future. To facilitate client development the helper builds a healthy therapeutic alliance with the client based on collaboration, warmth and acceptance. The Skilled Helper facilitates the client by helping them to formulate a plan of action, helping them accept their responsibility for becoming a more effective person and helping them to develop their own inner resources. The Skilled Helper also helps their client to transfer newly acquired skills and knowledge to fresh situations, facilitates them in establishing appropriate and realistic goals (that match their problem-solving skills), encourages them to become selfdirective and develop the skills of problem-solving, helps them to build on their inner strengths and to utilize external resources and support groups, helps them realize their potential and facilitates them in developing goals which are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, ethical and reasonable. Furthermore the Skilled Helper remains in a state of external sensory awareness and retains an awareness of their client's non-verbal communications. Effective Listening - SOLER Effective listening is key to being a Skilled Helper. It consists of various skills, which Egan covers with the acronym : S. If it suits them, face the client Squarely (some prefer up to 45 degrees etc) O. Maintain an Open Posture with the client. L. Lean towards the client (as appropriate). E. Maintain appropriate Eye Contact with the client. R. Be a Relaxed helper as by doing so you greatly improve the quality and comfort of the sessions. Active Listening & Empathy Active Listening is a key skill for the Skilled Helper. It consists in concentrating on the client's...
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