This essay will evaluate the skills used by a counsellor, Dr Berenson during a counselling session with a client named Rose. Various counselling skills will be identified and the effectiveness of their use and the impact of them on the client will be evaluated. Further to this, suggestions for more effective use of the skills will be made, also addressing the potential impact these might have on the client. While one of the main aims of the counselling process is to allow a therapeutic dialogue to occur (McLeod, 2007), as Armstrong (2006) suggests, the effective and appropriate use of counselling skills or tools enables the counsellor to support the client in clearly verbalising their story and also to ensure they themselves understand what is and what isn’t being said within this dialogue. For the purposes of this assignment, an audio of the counselling session along with a transcript of it have been used. In the absence of a visual account of the session much importance is then placed on the tone and pace of the participants’ speech as well as other verbal cues such as silences. Rose, the client has come to see Dr Berenson to find some sort of resolution to the issues she is facing around her daughter’s sleeping routine. Having been an ill baby, Rose’s five year old daughter has rarely slept in her own bed all night since birth. Rose has tended to respond to her daughters crying at night by bringing her into her own bed in order to settle the crying. She and her husband decided several months earlier that this pattern of behaviour needed to end and so resolved to attempt various ‘reinforcement programmes’. From early on in the session Dr Berenson clearly establishes an empathetic presence with Rose. This is clearly evident through the warmth and tone of his voice and his encouraging verbal prompts. In joining with the client, Dr Berenson is creating a foundation for a safe and supportive relationship to develop. Through the use of his voice, his patient and thoughtful
tone, and clearly his undivided attention, he develops rapport with Rose, further enhancing the counselling relationship they are participating in. In Rogers(1957) reference to the six counselling conditions necessary to produce change within a client(as cited in Hackney & Cormier, 2009), he highlights the need for empathic understanding in establishing an effective therapeutic relationship. Rogers (1987) with reference to accurately experienced empathy states that “Listening of this very special active kind, is one of the most potent forces of change that I know.” (pg 67, as cited in Hackney & Cormier, 2009) As suggested by Egan (2007) this use of empathetic presence clearly demonstrates to the client the counsellor’s commitment to both client and the counselling process. Dr Berenson’s use of verbal prompts early on in the session as shown in the following extract encourages Rose to tell her story while also validating and acknowledging her feelings and further developing rapport. R:.....she has seldom slept in her own bed through the whole night. BB: Mmmmm
R:..... and if I brought her back to her bed, we’re back at it again only a few minutes later. BB: Ummmm
Following on from this Dr Brenson further establishes rapport with the client with his use of empathy when he responds; BB: ...that had to be very frustrating for you because every time you made some progress.
In identifying and acknowledging the feelings of frustration that Rose may have experienced, Dr Berenson shows advanced accurate empathy with the client. While understanding the content of her narrative, he also goes further into understanding the meaning and significance of it for her. This is an example of Welsh and Gonzalez’s (1999) idea of the need for counsellors to communicate on two levels, that of the content of the narrative and then the meaning and significance of it for the client ( as cited in Hackney & Cormier,...
References: Armstrong,P. (2006). Counselling skills. In N. Pelling, R. Browers, & P. Armstrong (Eds.), The practice of counselling (pp. 46-75). Melbourne: Thomson Higher Education.
Corey, G. (2009) Theory and Practise of Counselling and Psychotherapy. Belmont, CA: Thompson Brooks/Cole
Egan, G. (2007). The Skilled Helper (8th ed.)
Belmont, CA: Thompson Brooks/Cole
Hackney, H. L., & Cormier, L. S. (2009). Building a working relationship. In The
professional counsellor (6th ed., pp. 65-95). Sydney: Pearson Education.
McLeod,J. (2007). Having a useful conversation: ‘Just talking’. In Counselling Skills (pp.135-169).Maidenhead, UK: Open University Press.
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