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The Professional Context Of Counselling

Introduction The remit was to answer different assessment criteria by actually defining counselling and identifying different forms of helping relationships and distinguishing how counselling is different from these helping relationships. It was necessary to identify different forms of communication used in helping relationships and then to ascertain the necessary communication skills used in helping relationships and how each of these skills might be used. Once these skills had been ascertained it was also necessary to pinpoint possible barriers to communication and how it might be possible to overcome these barriers.

Method Drawing on work already undertaken on the ABC Level II Counselling Concepts Course and research through reading it was possible to achieve a greater understanding of the counselling process and the communications skills and attributes necessary for successful outcomes. It was also possible to draw on current voluntary experience as a ‘listener’ at a local ‘drop-in session’ which certainly highlights how important communication skills and empathy are in clients feeling valued.

A Definition Of Counselling

Counselling is very much a confidential partnership between two people, counsellor and client. Counselling is a way of facilitating an environment (external and internally/physically/emotionally) that is conducive to another individual in determining any issues, they might be experiencing, which are causing problems in day to day living. The process encourages an individual to search through the issues themselves and enables them to assess and look at the various options available so that they might best resolve the issue that causes them concern, if they so wish. Counselling helps an individual identify choices for the future and supports their implementation. Counselling is about the counsellor listening with focused attention to the client and both counsellor and client working together on areas of concern and difficulty. The counselling process is unique in that the process combines the giving of time, attention and respect in a confidential relationship and as counselling is a unique partnership between counsellor and client there is a strong emphasis on self-understanding, self-development and self-acceptance. The process can be uncomfortable and painful at times and this may not all be one way but the neither is the progress and development.

“Essentially counselling is helping people to help themselves.” 1

Counselling can only be effective if the counsellor facilitates the right form of counselling. Meaning that the counsellor’s own ‘style’ will be based on the theory of counselling that he/she has chosen through their study and training and based on an awareness of their own values, strengths, weaknesses and method of communication.

There are three types of counselling:
Person Centred

Transactional Analysis

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

Carl Rogers, an American Psychologist working in the 1940’s, developed person-centered therapy and he suggested that three core conditions were essential for the counselling process to be successful.

a. Genuineness (Absolute Honesty)
b. Unconditional Positive Regard (Unconditional Acceptance)
c. Empathy

These will be discussed in more detail under How Counselling Is Different To Other Helping Relationships. The terms on which counselling is being offered must be made clear to clients before any sessions commence. As counselling is a two way process between the counsellor and client there needs to be a clear understanding of the guidelines and boundaries that both counsellor and client are working. A written contract should be agreed:
a. What both client and counsellor understand to be the point of these meetings. Agreeing measurable, achievable goals.
b. Confidentiality
c. What records are kept
d. What personal information is kept

e. The right of the client under current legislation eg., Data Protection, Freedom of Information.
f. If/When might confidentiality be broken by the counsellor
g. Anticipated number of sessions
h. Length of session
i. Time of meetings/punctuality
j. What type of therapy
k. Qualifications of counsellor, accredited associations.
l. Anything the client wants to add All of this helps with transparency there is no ambiguity. Absolute honesty from the first meeting of counsellor and client.

Different Forms Of Helping Relationships

Counselling skills are often used in every day life, in the family setting, in local communities, in the health care environment. There needs to be a clear difference between those who are counsellors and those who are using counselling skills as part of their expertise, such as Solicitors, Police, Doctors, Nurses etc. There is a whole range of helpers whose work involves listening and attending to the wellbeing of others but their primary focus is not counselling. However, the quality of their work is enhanced by the knowledge and use of counselling skills. A Macmillan or Marie Curie Nurse may undertake a home visit to a terminally ill patient but find themselves giving emotional support to a spouse or other family member. A student may see a teacher as someone with whom it is safe to discuss worries and anxieties.

A district nurse may visit the home of an elderly patient but again may find themselves giving emotional support to a relative who is in a caring capacity. A flight attendant may recognise signs of stress in a passenger. There are many different forms of helping relationships from family members, nurses, doctors, priests, nuns, teacher, social worker, befrienders, carer, weight loss facilitators, managers in the workplace. Advice services such as Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB) are also mostly a one way process, suggestions are made, individuals might be directed to other agencies. In the health care setting a nurse/midwife may give contraceptive advice, information would be given on lifestyle choices, the treatments available. Financial advice is available today people can be given advice and guidance on how to manage debt. Weight loss facilitators who run community programmes can be sympathetic to members who struggle to lose weight they can give written and verbal information, direction can be given to members. All these processes are one way. The methods used here are more telling and persuasive and not necessarily confidential.

Counselling Is Different To Other Helping Relationships

Counselling is different to other helping relationships as it is deliberately focused. It involves not just listening to facts but also feelings and drawing out those feelings, it is also about listening to the unspoken communication as expressed in body language and silences. Counselling is fundamentally a confidential, relationship therapy, a partnership between Counsellor and Client. Counselling is about mutual empowerment. Essential to the counselling process is the relationship between Counsellor and Client and that it is a team effort but responsibility for actions and behaviours very much belongs with the client.

Figure 1.
Counsellor + Client

Not

Counsellor ç Client

There must be synergy between the Counsellor and Client for Counselling to work effectively. ‘Synergy’ is two people work together as a team to achieve a mutually agreed and desired result. Figure 2.

Counsellor « Client Counselling is working with, and supporting another individual so that the conclusions that they come to are their own. In this process the client owns the problem, choices and decisions which are available, therefore for the Counsellor the emphasis is on being client focused rather than concerned about the problem. Some other helping relationships are problem focused (debt management, legal issues) rather than person focused and they around telling the client what action to take. We can describe counselling as assisting, encouraging, supporting, developing, recovery, empowerment. In all of this the Counsellor must be able to see the world from perspectives other than their own and this is not necessarily the way in other helping relationships.

Earlier the core conditions of counselling were mentioned. These areas make counselling distinctive to other forms of helping. These specific areas are required to ensure successful outcomes. There are different styles and theories that can be used in the counselling process but there is no proof that one theory is more effective at helping all clients than another but it is agreed that the essential supports for counselling are: the core qualities of genuineness, unconditional positive regard and empathy. Genuineness
The ability to be genuine as a counsellor is about understanding our own emotions and being aware of our reactions to enable us to one hundred percent focus on the feelings of the client. This self-knowledge allows us to be open and receptive without pretence or acting the image we want to convey. People who are upset are often extra sensitive and will pick up on any possible criticism or lapse in attention by the counsellor even becoming aware of any tension in the counsellor.
If a counsellor cannot be open and honest as a person with the client then how can we expect the client to be honest?

Behaviours that are indicative of genuineness are:-

Being spontaneous
Consistent
Open
Not defensive
Not over emphasizing the helping role

The counsellor must feel what they say as well as mean it. They have to transmit the right message on the right frequency. There is no point the counsellor smiling and saying I’m going to play a recording of Chopin when what is actually played and what the client actually hears is God Save The Queen by the Sex Pistols. Saying one thing meaning another.

I mean what I say, I say what I mean.

However, the genuineness has to be appropriate. So honesty/genuineness is the counsellor’s response to the client’s experience. The counsellor may be experiencing a variety of feelings but it is only those which are in direct response to the client that are appropriate for expression. The genuine response should be the one which is relevant to the immediate concern of the client.

Unconditional Positive Regard (Unconditional Acceptance) This is about showing regard for the client as a person and human being and having concern for their welfare. This comes with no preconditions. The client’s behaviour is not evaluated it is just accepted. It is finding a way to value and respect the client even though the counsellor may not share all, or any of their beliefs. Unconditional positive regard is important because it shatters any negative feelings the client may have about their worth, the client feels instantly and consistently valued, may be, unconditionally, for the first time. The client is accepted for him/her self. Carl Rogers called this ‘prizing’. ‘Prizing’ meaning accepting the client, their opinions and feelings. Caring but in a non-possessive manner. It is accepting that this is a human being who is not perfect but that the counsellor is able to accept them for who they are.

This is necessary if the client is to feel safe and secure in order to explore the issues affecting them.
Empathy
Empathy by the counsellor is one of the unique key features of counselling if not the key feature. The sheer experience of the client being ‘heard’ or ‘understood’ leads to a greater capacity to explore and accept. Empathy and genuineness can be linked. Empathic listening can be taught and the counsellor can learn to ask the right questions, give the right responses, but if this does not come from the heart, from the true personality of the counsellor the client will sense this and therefore the counsellor is not being genuine. How can the client trust the counsellor? Many helping relationships are sympathetic (feeling sorry for another individual) but with counselling empathy is about is seeing the experience through the other person’s eyes, feeling what that they feel, from their point of view. Empathy is about understanding the client’s feelings and experiences and keeping in the ‘here and now’. Empathy is not about knowledge the counsellor does not say ‘I know how you feel‘, it is more ‘I feel what you feel’. The counsellor is able to work in this intense way without becoming overwhelmed by the client’s feelings. Displaying empathy is being able to ‘walk a mile in someone else’s shoes’.
To show the difference between counselling and other helping activities, if someone’s car breaks down at night in an area that is unfamiliar to them, if they had no breakdown cover, if it was raining and they got out of the vehicle to start walking but they weren’t dressed for the weather and they were cold and felt miserable and anxious.

If they were intimidated by the people around them and they were wary and nervous of asking people for help but they have my telephone number because they have heard that I have helped people in similar situations in the past. If they contact me and I say, ‘That’s terrible. That’s happened to me before. I know how you feel and I know exactly what you should do.’ This would not be Counselling. I am being sympathetic and telling the other person what to do. Supposing I tell them to, ‘pull themselves together’, to ‘stop crying’, if I say, ‘you’re an adult’. I am showing irritation, being unhelpful and making the situation worse for the other person as they can feel weak, they may feel even more distressed about their lack of ability to cope with the situation. If I told them that they ‘should be more organised and should have had breakdown cover’, ‘that they should have started their journey earlier’. I am judging them and they are not conforming to my ways and beliefs. If I gave them factual information such as how to get to the nearest bus station or train station. This is advice and only useful if the individual knows exactly where they are and where they want to go. But, if I asked them if there were any street signs and the individual said that they couldn’t see them as it was too dark where they were and that it was getting colder and they didn’t feel safe. If I take this as the absolute truth and I give the person my full attention and respect and I just accept their current situation. I could ensure that they focused on me and I could use my voice, its tone and inflection, to convey empathy and trust. I could gently encourage the person to search for clues as to where they are, in doing so they may find a more well lit area. They can see the Police Station, 24 Hour Emergency Garage, Bed & Breakfast, 24 Hour Café, a Bus Station. They can see more clearly now, they can see the options available to them, they don’t feel as afraid. I have supported the individual to move at their own pace towards a place where they feel safer, where they can see the options available that might help them resolve the situation immediately and in the longer term. This is Counselling. Telling or giving advice has its place if there is a technical problem such as how to sew a hem, how to bake a cake, mend a puncture, change a wheel. This is very much a one way process. Counselling also differs from other helping activities because the counsellor is also bound by a code of ethics and practices as well as professional responsibilities. Other helping relationships may not have an agreed contract or boundaries, there may be no mention of confidentiality and other helpers may offer sympathy rather than empathy.

Different Forms Of Communication Used In A Helping Relationship We can use many different ways to communicate in a helping way such as one to one speaking, body language, the use of technical aids such as computers, mobile phones (use of apps), telephone (Samaritans, NSPCC helplines), symbols and pictures, writing (information leaflets, guidance sheets etc), sign language, lip reading, Braille, Makaton (a language using signs and symbols to help people communicate, people with learning difficulties, autism, downs syndrome, people wishing to develop their language and literacy skills, in schools), foreign language interpreters, Morse code (a method of transmitting communications, aeronautical navigational aids constantly identify in Morse code and Morse code can be life saving in emergency situations), Semaphore (acceptable for flights departing from the deck of a ship at sea or in emergency communications in daylight), international marine signal flags (have special meaning and vital in helping situations at sea, flags can indicate such things as ‘I am disabled communicate with me’, ‘I have a doctor on board’ even ‘We are discharging explosives’).

Communication Skills In A Helping Role And How They Are Used

Ursula O’Farrell in her book First Steps In Counselling suggests that the word ‘skill’ might be considered too measured and technical for the relationship evolving in counselling. ‘Skill’ in the Concise Oxford Dictionary is ‘practised ability’. It is more a combination of attributes and skills that the counsellor has which results in an approach that creates a relationship within which the client feels safe to explore and change, if they so desire. The building and preserving of all kinds of relationships is based on effective communication, and the counselling relationship is no exception.

Rapport First point of contact is vital in establishing the relationship between client and counsellor. That first welcome by the counsellor is the point at which the core conditions are communicated. Making the client feel at ease, chatting about normal every day things eg., the weather, the clients journey to the counselling setting. Non-threatening conversations. Not everyone wants to launch into their problems immediately.

Attentiveness First and foremost the counsellor but be completely focused on the client in order to witness and process all the words and signals that combine to convey the client’s message.
Attending to the client as a person with ‘body listening’ shows the client that they are important and they are of significance. Examples of this would be the counsellor facing the client with shoulders parallel, chairs being at equal height and structure, leaning towards the client, being open (not crossing arms or legs), looking at the client (eye contact).
It is not just sufficient to focus on words and thoughts of clients but it is vital that the counsellor conveys this attention to the client and eye contact is the most effective way of doing this. Eyes reflect our thinking and also our attention. This does not mean that counsellor stares at the client.
Posture, lean and eye contact all convey messages about attentiveness and interest. All three convey a message that says, ‘I am with you, please continue’. Active Listening If the counsellor is attending then they are also actively listening. It’s about tracking the client – what are they saying? What do they mean? How do they feel about what they are saying and what is their current state of feeling? Attending is picking up on all the signals that the client gives both verbal and non-verbal.
The counsellor can only infer things from body language - gestures, facial expressions, posture, general vibe but it is only by listening that the counsellor gains information about how the client feels and what is happening inside their emotional and psychological world. With listening the counsellor will also pick up on more than just words, the counsellor will note changes in speech patterns, rhythms, pauses, differences in tone and volume, context, emphasis, inflection, pronunciation. With active listening the counsellor will also note things like repetition of words by the client and the client may be quite oblivious to this. Eg., the counsellor might say, ‘You used the word bizarre a few times and I’m not sure what you mean by this?’ Thus inviting clarification but equally showing that the counsellor is listening. When listening actively the counsellor must listen from the client’s point of view, from their frame of reference, as different words can have completely different meanings for some people eg., the concept of ‘mother’ to the counsellor might be warm and caring but to the client this might be hurt, fear, unhappiness.

When listening the counsellor needs to show that they are with the client, that they have listened and would like to know more. Often a simple ‘Um’ or ‘Ah’ can be encouraging or suggestive statements such as, ‘Really’, ‘I see’, ‘Right’, ‘Good’. All of this encourages the client to continue talking or to expand further. Pete Sanders in his book First Steps In Counselling says that there are three stages to the skill of active listening:-

Observation Paying close attention to the client.
Understanding Empathy, whereby the counsellor puts themselves in the clients shoes.
Reflection In order for the counsellor to check that they have understood the meaning of the client is it necessary for the counsellor to do this by reflection, paraphrasing and clarifying.

Reflection/Paraphrasing Reflection or mirror statement is about the counsellor taking what the client has said and giving it back to them without changing the meaning. It shows that the counsellor has clearly heard what the client has disclosed.

Client: I have a very difficult line manager. She shouts at me and I get frightened. Counsellor: You are experiencing problems with your manager who is aggressive and you felt intimidated.

In drawing out feelings the counsellor further enters the clients frame of reference to assist in facilitating these feelings the counsellor can tentatively offer key word repetition which can link one thought to another and begin the process of exploration. Client: I have a very difficult line manager. She shouts at me and I get frightened. Counsellor: Frightened?

This is especially useful when the counsellor can link a reflection to a feeling and therefore encourage the client to acknowledge the feeling and perhaps gently draw this out more. Paraphrasing is similar to reflection when the counsellor offers a summary of what the client has been saying. Client: I know it doesn’t help my depression to sit around or stay in bed all day. Counsellor: It sounds like you know you should avoid staying in bed or sitting around all day as it doesn’t help your depression.

This is empathy as it is not just about repeating what someone else has just said but it is trying to understand what the client is feeling, from the clients frame of reference. It is about the counsellor reflecting an empathic understanding It is essential to concentrate on the emotions and feelings of clients.

Open Questions & Clarifying Questions promote discussion and rapport and help the counsellor gain information that can be used to promote mental activity around a particular topic, problem or difficulty, so that the client can think things through using a different perspective. Questions can also bring clarification when the counsellor is not clear about what the client is saying. The most powerful questions are ‘open questions’ which cannot be answered with a straightforward ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

Open questions begin with:- What? When? Who? How?

‘Why?’ is missing from the above list as this can be a minefield of problems. It could just give validation rather than a true answer but is can also sound challenging or judgemental eg., ‘Why did you do that?’ However, ‘why?’ can be softened with, “That’s interesting, why was that?’ Open questions are about the counsellor saying, ‘Tell me more.’ Open questions also encourage the client to think through various answers. In certain situations asking the client, ‘What do you think about it?’ elects importance. The client feels worthy and valued. The counsellor can also encourage the client to answer their own question, ‘What do you need to know to be able to handle that situation?’

Remaining With The Client It is important the counsellor does not make assumptions about the clients problem from the outset. The counsellor must pace themselves and remain with the client, at the client’s speed of disclosure. The counsellor should not attempt to hurry the client along.

Silence
“Silence is golden.”

Just as important as listening is the counsellor knowing when to be silent. The counsellor must not be eager to interrupt.
By pausing the counsellor has time to consider what they have just heard and, in some instances, it also give the client time to reflect on what they have just said.

Barriers To Communication

Appearance
In the counselling setting this could be the appearance of the counsellor or the client. This might be the way someone is dressed, their hair style, if female their make up, long false fingers could be very distracting.
If a female counsellor is leaning forward to be encouraging/attentive that’s fine but would be inappropriate if the client had a birds eye view of cleavage!
The counsellor also needs to be aware of initial assumptions around appearance of the client if someone looks unclean and untidy this may be related to mental health issues such as depression and simply a case of the client not taking care of themselves because of their current lack of wellbeing.

Body Language
Just as we express different emotions by speech so we express emotions differently with our bodies. For example, what does the clients’ smile mean? Was it nervousness? Anxiety? Shyness? The client keeps squeezing their hands together. Are they cold? Tense? Angry?

Listening
Hearing is physiological function and listening a psychological activity and the two are vastly different. We can hear but not actually listen. We can also selectively listen that is tuning out only choosing to hear what we want to.

We cannot empathize and tune out at the same time.

Questioning Ourselves
Sometimes when someone says something we mentally ask a question of ourselves for example ‘Is that true?’ ‘Do I actually believe that?’ When this starts to happen the conversation is lost as we have stopped listening.

Personal Concerns/Boredom
Often someone’s mind can wander outside the conversation, ‘Did I switch off the washing machine?’, ‘What time did I tell the childminder I would collect the children?’, ‘I wonder how mum got on at the hospital?’.
Someone could just feel bored or disinterested in what the speaker is saying and could start daydreaming.

Speech/Facial Barriers
In the counselling setting a client could be heavily accented or have a speech impediment making it difficult for the listener to understand or the listener may be compelled to want to finish sentences and interrupt. Someone could have a facial tic or twitch which could be distracting for the listener.

Jargon
A client could use a lot of ‘jargon’ or ‘slang’ or phrases unique to the area that they live. This could make interpretation difficult.

Mannerisms
If the counsellor was holding a pen and playing with the pen this would be very distracting for the client. Or similarly if the client was constantly playing with her hair. The client or counsellor could be very fidgety or constantly shifting posture.

Filters
In the counselling setting the counsellor needs to be aware that filters can become present between themselves and the client. Filters could be many things such as prejudicial about certain actions, culture religion.
The counsellor could become over-eager and too emotionally invested with the client. The counsellor may have had a similar experience and begin to identify too much with the client. The counsellor may start to feel sorry for the client, the counsellor understands but does not put themselves in the client’s shoes.
Another filter could be from the client’s perspective and an immediate one or even prior to arriving for counselling and this is regard to their expectations of counselling.
Also over a given length of time the client could start to learn coping mechanisms and problem solving and begin to think that they ‘know it all now.’

Personal Agenda
There could be a danger in the counselling setting that the counsellor could take the conversation in a direction that they want to go. A female counsellor may feel that all men are untrustworthy and if a female client is in a relationship with a man and has particular issues with this the counsellor could push in a direction they want to go.

Bodily Distractions This could be anything from feeling hungry to requiring the toilet, having a headache, lack of sleep, being in pain.
No Synergy
We are all only human and we just immediately get on with some people, we ‘click’ from the moment we meet and we enjoy their company. There are others that are acceptable and that we can probably work with. But there are some people that we just don’t get on with.

Note Taking
If the counsellor was taking notes during the session would be off putting as the client would not have the undivided attention of the counsellor.

Environmental Barriers
There could be immediate barriers with regard to access to the facility if someone was disabled and there was no wheelchair access or if the counselling room was not on a ground floor and the client could not use the stairs and there was no lift.
The waiting room may not be hospitable. The counsellor may keep the client waiting with no apology. The receptionist may be off hand. The client may just be directed to the counselling room and find the door shut they would then have to knock - an immediate physical barrier.
Noise could play a part in creating a barrier to effective communication. In the counselling setting this could come from a noisy reception area outside the room itself. There could be road works outside with constant loud drilling, the room could over look a school play ground or playing field. Air conditioning can often be noisy and distracting. If there is a computer in the room the noise of the computer running can be a distraction and even if the room is quiet but there is a ticking clock sometimes this can appear to be very loud and a distraction.
The room being used may not be comfortable it could be too big, too small, too cluttered, very sparse, too hot/cold. The décor could be too ‘busy’ or too dull.

The seating could be uncomfortable or the chair used by the counsellor could be higher than that being used by the client. The counsellor and client would not be meeting equally then.
There might be a table or desk between client and counsellor thus creating a physical barrier.
The lighting may not be adequate making the room dim or equally the artificial light may be too bright – it is not an interrogation. There may be sunlight filtering into the room and this could be directly opposite the client or the counsellor. There may be no window screen available to blot out the sunlight or just to give privacy from buildings opposite.
Client or counsellor may keep looking at their watch when speaking.
Either the client’s or counsellor’s mobile phone ringing. Or a telephone in the counselling room ringing. The time of day can be important if the session is just after lunch and the client or counsellor has eaten a large lunch then there is a tendency to feel tired and sluggish. The time of year can play a part as well. If it is a warm, sunny afternoon both the client and counsellor could feel distracted by ‘wanting to be somewhere else’, ‘out enjoying the sun’.
Another issue that might be a barrier to communication is attraction to the client and vice versa.

Ways Of Overcoming Barriers To Communication When offering counselling the immediate outside environment needs to be right first. Access for all complying with legislation. Hearing loops in rooms. A comfortable reception/waiting are, trained receptionist for these specific clients, refreshments available, literature and posters available in different languages.

Counsellor coming to reception for their client, greeting the client at reception. Escorting the client to the counselling room whilst undertaking non-threatening conversation eg., weather etc. On the first meeting it is the counsellor who holds all the cards there is no equality at this point. The room is the counsellor’s domain, the counsellor has the knowledge, skill, experience. The client is vulnerable, unsure, distressed. It is vital for the counsellor to redress the balance as quickly as possible. The counselling room should not be too cluttered, not too sparse, the chairs should be of equal height and positioned opposite each other but not too far away and not too close as to invade personal space. A digital clock should be displayed so that the counsellor can see this without distracting the client. Landline telephones to be switched off as well as mobile phones. Whatever the environment/weather outside the room should be a welcoming cocoon for the client. A safe, secure environment. When welcoming the counsellor should ensure that the client understands that this is ‘their time’. The counsellor should explain about confidentiality and about having an agreement and agreeing boundaries. This creates an emotional bond between client and counsellor in achieving agreement regarding boundaries and contract. It is about a shared understanding of the process and of achieving successful outcomes.
The counsellor is immediately providing genuineness, empathy and acceptance. The client should be given the opportunity to ask any questions at this point. There is absolute transparency from the outset. The counsellor should dress comfortably but appropriately. The counsellor needs to use their memory skills and only take notes after the session has finished. The counsellor needs to be aware from initial contact of the clients social class, age, gender, ethnicity as there will be an effect on the counselling relationship and it is up to the counsellor to be aware of this and to be able to adjust their style/approach accordingly whilst practicing the core conditions. With regard to internal distractions to the counsellor such as personal concerns, self questions etc., the counsellor needs to concentrate to stay focused and use empathy and reflection. If the client is using jargon then clarification could be used. The counsellor must be self aware and use body language to attend such as eye contact, nodding etc. As for synergy if the counsellor is struggling then they must try to find something about the client that they like. The counsellor must give focus and stay in the ‘here and now’. They must use empathy. They could ask themselves, ‘where are we now in this discussion?’ if they cannot answer that for themselves they are not actively listening. When the counsellor is empathic they will be listening actively. Any issues such as the counsellor becoming over possessive, over identifying or attraction to client or client to counsellor would be best dealt with through peer support.

Conclusion From research and reading it seems clear that peer support for the counsellor is a vital component in the counselling process. If transparency/honesty/genuineness, unconditional positive regard and empathy exist in the counselling setting this in itself can be enough to lead to successful positive outcomes. If the counsellor practices these three core conditions there are no barriers as they can be overcome.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

1Perfect Counselling: All you need to get it right first time Max Eggert

A practical approach to counselling Margaret Hough

The theory and practice of counselling psychology Richard Nelson-Jones

First steps in counselling Pete Sanders

Listening Helpfully: How to develop your counselling skills Jeanne Ellin

Person centred counselling in action Dave Mearns Brian Thorne

First steps in counselling Ursula O’Farrell

An introduction to counselling John McLeod

Bibliography: 1Perfect Counselling: All you need to get it right first time Max Eggert A practical approach to counselling Margaret Hough The theory and practice of counselling psychology Richard Nelson-Jones First steps in counselling Pete Sanders Listening Helpfully: How to develop your counselling skills Jeanne Ellin Person centred counselling in action Dave Mearns Brian Thorne First steps in counselling Ursula O’Farrell An introduction to counselling John McLeod

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