Counselling, in the profession, refers to the creation of relationships that are helpful and positive between a counselor and a client. Counselling is intended to aid in adjustment and growth. Usually a client come to counsellors when they do not how to change so that they can lead a better and satisfying life. There are many skills and concepts that makes a great counsellor but in this essay, I will go back to the most fundamental basic skill which is "joining".
As with all counselling sessions, "joining" with the client is very essential to build the rapport with our client so that we are able to work together to identify and achieve the contracted goals. Having a good rapport with client is one of the active ingredient to steer towards positive outcome. Rapport could be considered a ‘mutual absence of vulnerability' which is to make our client feel safe and trustful.
What is meant by the term "joining"?
"Joining" is an ongoing process which usually begins at the first point of contact between the counsellor and the client. This could be on the phone while fixing up an appointment or face-to-face in the counselling centre setting. The initial meeting with the client is important in "joining" as first impression will be build. The first impression will affect the willingness of client to share their thoughts or problem with us.
The first impression is usually affirmed with a handshake as the counsellor introduce themselves. The charisma and tone of the counsellor will speak volume of his or her confidence level which will be registering in client's first impression of us. Bearing that in mind, the counsellor must still be themself and not come across as intimidating or expert. It is crucial to be warmth and welcoming, putting the client at ease in our presence. "As we strive to make sense of the world around us, to determine what is real and what is illusory, we depend on other people to validate our perceptions and impressions." (Johnson, 1990, p.7)
During the first person-to-person encounter, it is also useful for the counsellor to observe the client while greeting. The non-verbal bahaviour and posture will give some cues of how the client feel.Their sense of dressing and the way they bring themselves will also be a indicator of how they perceive their self-worth and how they would like to portray themself to society. This are just unverified information which can be gradually developed as rapport with the client grow through "joining".
The "joining" process also differs in the initial session from the other sessions as counsellor is enabled to engage in chatting on casual topics with client such as the agency or weather. Even the counsellor is allowed to talk about our day and share something about ourself. By practosing self-disclosure in a relationship, the intimacy between the two people can be increased. But it is important to adhere to the art of self-disclosure, which would be to give away information in the right way and at the right time. This is to put the troubled mind of the client at ease and start establishing a relationship with client. For other subsequent sessions, counsellor is not encouraged to engage in casual chatting unless initiated by client. This is to prevent breaking the train of thoughts of client who usually attend sessions with issues they like to work on, which usually causes emotions to be on the brink of release. By engaging in casual topics, the client might lose focus and not be able to surface critical issues during the counselling sessions.
So as the counsellor starts the session, client will usually be apprehensive and quiet. The counsellor should encourage the client by inviting the client to talk. Some clients may respond immediately and start sharing their concerns. Some would still need reassurance and have difficulty to begin sharing. Door openers are useful to engage client during sessions. Client who are burdened by issues usually...
References: Geldard, K. & Geldard, D. (2005) Practical counselling skills: An integrative approach. London: Palgrave Macmillan
Bolton, R (1987). People skills: How to assert yourself, listen to others, and resolve conflicts. Brookvale, NSW: Simon & Schuster
Johnson, D (1990). Reaching out:Interpersonal effectiveness and self-actualization and self actualization. New jersey: Prentice hall, Inc.
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