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Sandra Dean – Registered Member

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My understanding of what is meant by the term ‘counselling’ and my approach to counselling. My counselling level 4 diploma course

“Counselling is not advising, gossiping or argument about anything. That’s chatting. Counselling is unbiased support”

Titus and I

Titus and I

Sandra Dean

Counselling occurs when a person (client) seeks the help of another (counsellor) and engages in private conversations with them in order to resolve issues in their life. A therapeutic relationship is key where the client feels at ease to share their problems with the counsellor and the counsellor listens, seeks to understand the problems from the client’s point of view (empathy) and gives them the space to explore their feelings, thoughts and behaviours. Important within this relationship is that the client is active and ready to engage with the counsellor in sessions. If they are not, then counselling does not occur. It is not about having a ‘chat’, it is about exploring issues, looking at thought processes, and a desire to change negative patterns.

I have had counselling on numerous occasions, as a client, and have mainly been open and honest about myself, my issues and negative personality traits as I see them. However, with one counsellor, I was not totally honest and held back information about my behaviours so as to protect myself. This stopped a counselling relationship to fully occur and I could not be helped with some of my issues.

I feel that if a person really wants to change their negative thoughts, feelings and actions regarding an issue in their life, that a talking therapy such as counselling, is one of the best opportunities the person will have. This relies on the therapeutic relationship forming, and a feeling of trust and confidentiality being experienced by the client. Counselling can help with many issues, including finding a path to a life worth living for the client.

Some clients need little more than someone to talk to; to bounce their ideas off, to be listened to intently, to be understood and accepted for who they are. Merely talking and having their words said back to them via paraphrasing, could be enough, as the client resolves their own issues. This could lead to short term counselling requirements.

Other clients need a lot more. They may take much longer to soak up their realities. They may be in denial; thus requiring repetition in order to break through their barriers, to see the errors in their thinking. They may need help to explore what is actually the issues in their lives. For example, if depressed, a person may experience ‘catastrophizing’ where they view everything that happens in their lives as a problem. They cannot ‘see the wood for the trees’ and simply do not have the calmness or insight to work out which are real problems and which are just, in their mind, a problem that isn’t actually a problem at all. This is irrational thinking and the counsellor may need to challenge the client many times in order for the client to see their errors in their thinking; the reality of the situation.

People naturally judge others, and because of this, sometimes stigma or bullying can occur, usually borne from ignorance. Therefore, many people fear talking to others’ in case they think they are bad or wrong. People we know well are often biased; either wanting to protect us, or tell us we are wrong, and it’s commonplace to be judged. We may go to these people for advice, but it is much more comfortable and helpful if we can talk to someone without bias. If the counsellor is patient, calm, empathic, a good listener, and is not shocked by what the client tells them, the client is more likely to open up further and explore their thoughts, feelings, and actions with honesty and feel more self-worth which can aid social inclusion.

A counsellor will treat each client as an individual, with individual needs, thoughts, feelings and behaviours and the therapeutic relationship will be based on allowing and helping the client to make their own decisions and find their own answers. The counsellor will aid them in doing this via challenging, verifying information and much more. A trained counsellor, however, may possess knowledge of coping skills, which could be explained to the client, if suitable and relevant to the client’s needs. In any case, it is not the role of the counsellor to advise the client what to do, or to share their own experiences or views.

I find that by following the practise of counselling, by studying and learning, and by self-reflection, I enter each counselling session at ease, with pleasure, comfortable, and with a determination to help my clients, and this helps me to be a good counsellor. My clients are open and honest with me, they are committed as am I, they trust me, they are not afraid to show or share their emotions and deepest thoughts, and they are willing and open for the challenges I may set them with their agreement. They understand what counselling means to them fairly quickly, and as we meet more and more, and they overcome some of their issues, they become even more determined to help themselves within sessions, outside of session time, and after our relationship and meetings end.

Having been through lots of adversities in my forty one years, and having seen family members and friends going through as many, I am very resilient, which I feel is important as a counsellor. I remain calm and not shocked by what my clients tell me. I do not judge my clients. And this helps the client feel at ease. If they can trust me in telling me of their adversities and stories (testing the water with me), and the result of my interaction is calm, helpful and insightful, then they open up more and give me more of their truths.


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