Do we need to be perfect or be good enough is OK ?
Be Good Enough…
That is right. Who is a good Counsellor or Psychotherapist ? All we know is that a person trained in mental health needs with good knowledge, experience and other life skills. Perhaps, Good character and be nice?
Being nice is not enough to be a good therapist.
Years of learning, practice and personal development must be considered. Knowing and understanding one’s self is a challenge no less than understanding somebody else. Hundreds of hours spent in education learning counselling skills give a spark of therapeutic knowledge, but experience in practice is gained during a lifetime spent in the counselling room. Only then we can begin to say we are good, good enough as a counsellor.
In our educational programme, we are learning unique counselling skills and preparing for the journey to practice as a counsellor and psychotherapist. Many of the skills necessary for practice are adopted during the educational training, others we have learned from different areas of our lives. Today I will tell you a bit about the Therapeutic Skills.
The most critical skills are presented by Rogers in his six core conditions, which are amongst the most adopted elements in the therapeutic process and include empathy, congruence and unconditional positive regards. A fundamental skill which a counsellor must hold to create a positive relationship between client and therapist is empathy as it is the means through which the therapist accurately comprehends the client’s feelings.
“Clients like to feel understood on their terms by counsellors and helpers.”(Nelson-Jones)
Empathy is a crucial aspect of understanding another person. Without the skills the therapeutic interaction will be complicated for both parties; it will hinder the ability to understand another person and to build a positive therapeutic alliance between client and therapist. Empathy is the ability to ‘walk in someone else’s shoes’. The helper must be accepting of a wide variety of people and their problems, always employing good empathic skills and striving to understand the other person without judging them.
A good counsellor will be emotionally attuned even when they do not agree with their clients. Empathy is especially evident in Unconditional Positive Regards (UPR) when the helper accepts the client unconditionally. You can find more information in Carl Rogers book.
A typical example of conditional behaviour is when the parents accept and love the child only when it is good and makes the parents happy. According to UPR, the therapist cannot only choose the ‘right’ clients based on the therapist’s conditions of behaviour. When the helper inhibits the proper technique, then the psychological process between client and therapist is creative and fruitful.
Another important skill is genuineness: the therapist is authentic, adequate and true. As Egan said:
‘Genuine people are at home with themselves and therefore can comfortably be themselves in all their interactions’.
This quote provides the key to congruence and transparency, but these are not all the skills which the good counsellor has to hold. Namely, the practitioner must also possess skills like:
- listening skills,
- paraphrasing and reflecting
I hope you like that subject which I will describe and extend in the next blog and episode.