Self awareness is a big set of rules for all of us but as a practitioners, we also, should wisely remember that we are our own most important counselling instrument.
Every counselling practitioner should aspire to achieve excellent standards in psychotherapy practice. Attending personal development and practising self-care is critical to professional awareness. Personal characteristics are fundamental in self-awareness. A counsellor has to know about their strengths and weaknesses because they will be dependent on those emotions.
In the journey with a client, many of the therapist’s attributes will expand with emotional responses, clarification of values, prejudice, personal responsibility and practical change. All these values will be practised and challenged all the time. The practitioner must be aware of his prejudices to avoid personal bias-interactions and must carefully consider the client with a non-judgmental attitude.
In other words, what is right for me as a practitioner is not necessarily right for you as the client. It is worth remembering that
”we are all the same but completely different”
A helpful strategy is to know yourself. Well illustrated examples of this are in the Johari Window pattern. More about Johari Window you can find in another blog.
The practitioner could receive feedback from the group and find the blind area which is visible for others but not for individual one. Another aspect of self-care is personal therapy for a counsellor.
When we work with a client, we have to know who we are. Before we start the process of understanding another person. To achieve that progress of self awareness, personal counselling and continuing professional development is necessary. That knowledge provides opportunities to improve self-concept.
The counsellor is not omniscient and makes mistakes just like other people.
The therapist is not in business to change the client, give advice or fix the problems.
The knowledge is constantly changing and has to be continually developed. Techniques employed need to be consistent with client expectation and appropriate for client ability. For instance, a client who has to work with a particular method, for example, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy charts, could find that the homework is difficult as he or she is not used to those kinds of exercises. Often the client does not finish their homework not because of laziness but because of a lack of ability or knowledge. A good counsellor will be able to see if the client can work alone or not. The therapy has to make sense to the client. Otherwise, the exercises will not be sufficient to achieve a positive outcome. The techniques need to be manageable and productive for the client.
Knowledge and skills are essential, but they are not sufficient to establish and maintain an effective therapeutic relationship.
A good therapist should explore as many approaches as they find necessary until they find one which best fits the client. Strong interpersonal skills are not just courteous toward clients; they may help the therapist to be more successful in professional awareness and interactions.
During our education, we learn theory and practice, including some techniques like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Person-Centred Therapy. Also, we learn how to use charts and other tools with clients to achieve a goal. Unfortunately, knowing all the techniques provided to us as psychotherapy practitioners is not enough for us to be good counsellors. If we do not also have the skills needed to be able to understand a client, or we lack essential counselling skills or don’t have a clear view of what counselling is, we are not going to be able to practice adequately and fruitfully.
Another aspect where a counsellor is not ready for counselling with clients is when they need to resolve their dilemmas, especially when a client brings an issue which harms the counsellor’s own experiences. For instance, a counsellor will not be able to work with someone who had the same traumatic experience as them if the counsellor lacks the healing on the experience in themselves and therefore is not ready for that particular practice.