Egan (2007) describes counselling as an act of explicit offer of time and expertise, involving effective communication skills, genuineness and joint problem solving. Beside the application of core counselling skills, such as active listening, openness and problem solving, there are other areas which the counsellor must be aware of for the achievement of a rapport with his/her client. Professional ethical standards serve as a pillar that forms and strengthens a therapeutic relationship if facilitated and maintained satisfactorily by the counsellor. Some examples of standards are keeping the counsellor client relationship on a professional level, respect for client confidentiality and maintaining boundaries.
Nonetheless, this is a critique on my application of counselling skills exhibited in the practice session i had with Cyan. Having said that things were not going well for him in his personal life and in his counselling profession, Cyan also mentioned that he felt anxious and down. Subsequently, we explored the sources of the anxiety from his personal to his professional life. We further explored his family relationships, his business operation and later explored possible ways he could use to help him cope with stress and anxiety. We identified his anxiety as originating by the lack of support and financial instability then we tried to work on how to deal with those issues. Most importantly this essay looks at my application of counselling skills and my ability to manage the ethical issue which arose in the session.
According to the BAC (cited in Bond, 2005)” counsellors must establish and maintain boundaries around the counselling relationship”. (p.230) identified as an ethical issue in the practice session was when the client said to me “what i was wondering is, can i get your mobile number off you so that i can call you over the weekend or sometime if i need to have a chat”? Personally i saw the client’s desire as a move towards crossing the counsellor client boundary. I felt that the client’s desire could be a move that would turn the professional relationship into a personal relationship. However, personally i think it is unethical for a counsellor to see or be involved in an intimate relationship with a client outside the counsellor client relationship. In most cases where the client and counsellor become informally and intimately involved the therapeutic relationship is high likely going to fail. In response to the client i said “oh ok. I am sure we had not discussed this before. The thing is i would love to keep this counsellor client relationship on a more professional level. So i think we can meet or you can call my office and check on me if there is anything you need. I can then get back to you and find out, but it has to be professionally focused”. In evaluating my response i think besides being assertive i responded respectfully, calmly and constructively in establishing the counsellor client boundary. Counsellors and Psychotherapists association of NSW (2002) stipulated that “counsellors must think carefully, exercising considerable caution, before entering into a personal or business relationship with former clients and expect to be professionally accountable if the relationship becomes detrimental to the client or the standing of the profession”. (p. 12).
As a trainee counsellor i consider avoiding entering into personal relationships with clients a very important thing to do. The reason being, i do not want to cause hurt or harm to the clients and the professional relationship if anything goes wrong. Moreover, looking at another approach i could have used in dealing with the ethical issue of crossing client counsellor boundaries. Instead of responding straight with a final response to what the client was saying, i could have further probed the client to get a vivid picture of what the client meant when he requested my mobile number. However another observation i made was that when we were...
References: Bond, T. (2005) Standards and Ethics for Counselling in Action (2nd ed.) London: Sage Publications.
The counsellors and psychotherapists association of NSW (2002)
Egan, G. (2007). The skilled helper: A problem management and opportunity-development approach to helping (8th ed.)
Geldard, D., & Geldard, K. (2005). Combining Skills to Facilitate the Change Process: In Basic personal counselling: A training manual for counsellors (5th ed., pp. 140-152).
Yalom, I. (2001). The here-and-now: Use it, use it, use it; Why use the here-and-now?;
Using the here-and-now: Grow rabbit ears; and Search for here-and-now equivalents. In
The gift of therapy: Reflections on being a therapist (pp. 46-57). London: Piatkus Publishing.
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