| Understanding the context for the use of counselling skills
| Assessment: Khadra Mohamed
| Portfolio of work. Word Count 3,500 +/- 10%
A3 (1) Understand what is meant by counselling skills
Define counselling skills
What is a counselling skill, one application of the word ‘skills’ pertains to areas of skill, for instance listening skills or disclosing skills. Another application refers to level of competence, for instance, how strong your skills are in a particular area. Competence in a skill is best viewed not as an either/or matter in which you either possess or do not possess a skill. Rather, within skills area, it is preferable to think of helpers as possessing different levels of strength. In all skills areas you are likely to possess a mixture of levels of strength. For instance, in the skills area of listening, you may be stronger at understanding clients, but less strong at showing your understanding. Similarly, in just about all areas of their functioning, clients will possess a mixture of skills of differing levels of strength. A third application of the word ‘skill’ relates to the knowledge and sequence of choices entailed in implementing a given skill. The essential element of any skill is the ability to make and implement sequences of choices to achieve objectives. For instance, if you are to be good at listening deeply and accurately to clients, you have to make and implement effective choices in this skills area. The object of counselling skills training and supervision is to help trainees, in the skills areas targeted by their training programmes, move more in the direction of making choices that reflect strength. For example, in the skills area of active listening, the objective would be to enable you to make stronger choices in the process not only of understanding clients but also in showing that understanding to them.
The key difference between someone using counselling skills and a qualified and trained counsellor is that 'the counsellor is bound by a code of ethics and practice and carries a set of professional responsibilities'. Generally anyone can be trained to use counselling skills however often they use them in the context of their own environment i.e. Nurses use skills at work but are bound by their own employer's set of standards and practices, therefore counselling skills can be subject to a conflict in interests e.g. a Nurse who has used counselling skills with a patient may be obliged to disclose information given if their employer's guidelines dictate so i.e. the patient discloses that they are HIV Positive. This conflict of interest, on the whole, does not exist with the trained and qualified counsellor, so the client retains the confidence that what is being said is confidential and will not be repeated outside of the session.
Outline different roles within which counselling skills may be used The primary difference between counselling and other forms of helping is the way in which the counsellor listens. Active listening is at the heart of effective counselling. Active listening involves listening at a head level to the thinking behind the client’s words, and at a heart level to the feelings and emotions behind them. It also entails being aware of (a form of listening) the clients nonverbal communication, eye contact, eye movements, tone of voice (harsh or soft), gestures (sighting, clenching fists) body posture (slumped, tense, open, closed), facial expressions (smiling, frowning), mannerisms, and mode of dress (smart, casual). Nonverbal communications, or body language as it is commonly called, can provide the counsellor with significant information about what the client may not be expressing but may be feeling. We go to a doctor when we have something medically wrong; to a psychiatrist when there is something mentally wrong; to a priest when there is something spiritually wrong. All of these establish a helping...
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