Module: Developing Counselling Skills in Health and Social Care
In any health and social care setting, employees at all levels will be required to listen to patients, clients, their friends and relatives expressing their views, concerns and emotions. These can be complex and sometimes difficult interactions; therefore it is important that employees have the skills and necessary professional boundaries to be effective helpers in these situations, and to keep themselves emotionally safe. Employees need to be aware of the scope and limitations of helping relationships and how best their knowledge and skills can be utilised with, and on behalf, of the client. The extent to which health and social care practitioners become effective listeners can depend on both inherent and taught skills. This unit focuses on the identification, practice and development of a range of interpersonal and counselling skills. Learners will develop the underpinning knowledge and ability to initiate, sustain and conclude an interaction with a client/patient, beyond that of being an effective listener to the level of skilled helper. They will understand and practise the parameters of the skills utilised in such helping relationships, including managing the process and, where necessary, referring the client to alternative sources of support. It is important to note that on completion of this unit learners are not qualified to undertake client work in a counselling context. An extensive programme of additional, higher level study and commitment to a period of personal therapy are required in order to become a counselling practitioner, eligible for professional body membership and/or accreditation. Effective listening and questioning techniques, and adherence to the boundaries of an ethical helping relationship, will be taught along with the understanding that an individual’s skills need to be continually reviewed and developed.
Psychology is the study of human behaviour, thought processes and emotions. It can contribute to our understanding of us and our relationships with other people, if it is applied in an informed way. Health psychology refers to the application of psychological theory and research to promote evidence-based personal and public health. To do this, psychology must take account of the context of people’s lives. Certain sets of beliefs and behaviours are risk factors for illness; therefore some knowledge of public health and the public health agenda for change is essential. Those we care for come from a variety of different social and cultural backgrounds that value certain beliefs and behaviours above others. These may place some people at greater or lesser risk of illness than others; therefore some knowledge of sociology is essential. In order to understand the link between psychological and physiological processes, some knowledge of the biomedical sciences is also essential. Therefore psychology sits alongside these other disciplines to make an important contribution to the health and well-being of the population. But it is important to note that the psychology we draw on has evolved entirely from western philosophy, science and research, and may therefore be viewed as specific to western cultures.
Those working in the caring professions spend most, if not all, of their working lives interacting with other people. A key part of their job is to promote health and well-being. Most people are familiar with the following definition of health: ‘a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’ (WHO 1946). If this is seen as an important goal, those working in health and social care need the knowledge and skills to help people work towards achieving it. There are many ways in which psychological theory and research can contribute to...