Week 2: Attending Behaviour: Empathy and Advanced Accurate Empathy
The attending behaviour is critical in determining the efficiency of counselling. Attending refers to being attentive to an interaction between two people. On this, the attending behaviour as it related to counselling refers to the attentive interaction between a counsellor and his or her client. The attending behaviour employed by a counsellor influences the strength of the relationship formed between the counsellor and the client. Empathy is a core concept in the attending behaviour that is critical to the formation of this key relationship. Empathy creates a virtual experience where the customer places himself or herself in the situation that the client is undergoing (Elliott, Bohart, Watson & Greenberg, 2011). This enables the counsellor to make a good connection with the challenges that the client is facing and be in a better place to provide appropriate solutions to the client. An unprofessional attending behaviour that contradicts attending behaviour is sympathy where the counsellor tends to feel pity towards the client and his/.her situation. This approach is counterproductive since it plunges the client into deeper problems. Empathic behaviour hence requires that the counsellor takes up the position of the client virtually using the information provided by the client.
Advanced accurate empathy is a second level of empathy where the counsellor digs up into the situation of the client using information, experience and skills gotten from external sources other than the client (Wicks, Parsons & Capps 1993). Advanced accurate empathy therefore enables the counsellor to connect with the client better since it is possible to identify the underlying factors to a problem that may be unnoticed by the client.
In my future practice as a counsellor, I will use empathic behaviours to build relationships with my clients. In the initial meetings with the client, basic empathy will be used to create relationships. Advanced accurate empathy will in turn be used to create a deeper understanding of the client’s situation in follow up sessions.
Week 3: Reflection Skills: Reflection of Content
Effective communication influences the success of a counselling session. The counsellor should be able to understand what the client means during counselling sessions. On the other hand, it is important that the client feels that the counsellor understands what he or she means. Therefore good communication in counselling ensures that there is a free flow of information between the counsellor and the client. Reflection skills come in handy in this communication process. Reflection is a process in which the counsellor restates the words and feelings of the speaker (Geldard & Geldard 2008). Reflection is measure of ensuring that the counsellor does not get misinformed about the communication from the client.
From this week’s learning, I learnt about the two main reflection skills namely mirroring and paraphrasing. Mirroring is the reproduction if the words that the client has spoken either in bits or whole. It is meant to show the client that the counsellor understands what he/she is saying. Mirroring should not be taken too far as it can be irritating to the client. The other reflection skill is paraphrasing. Paraphrasing involves the use of own words to restate what the client has said (Geldard & Geldard 2008). Caution should be taken so as not introduce own ideas and feelings in the reflection.
In my practice as a counsellor, I will use reflection to ensure that I am on the same level ‘page’ with the client. I will practice using paraphrasing and mirroring skills so as to develop an ability to reflect content of the conversations between me and the client. This will be developed hand in hand with my listening and speaking skills.
Reflection of feeling is meant to state the feelings of the client during the progress of a counselling session as perceived by the counsellor. This process is meant to ensure that the counsellor is in touch with the feelings/ emotions of the client, hence being able to understand his or her situation better in be well placed to offer appropriate solutions to it. It is normally hard to reflect feelings especially when the client does not disclose his or feeling verbally. Therefore, feeling reflection skills require that the counsellor be in touch with the verbal and non verbal communication of the client. Reflection of feeling requires two main skills. The first skill is the identification of the clients’ feeling. As pointed out earlier, it involves understanding the verbal and non verbal communication form the client (Koole, Dornan, Aper, Scherpbier, Valcke, Cohen-Schotanus & Derese, 2011). The second skill is the ability to present the feeling verbally in a statement form rather than a question. This gives an option for the client to either agree with the counsellor or give counter indications that give more insight to his/her feelings.
From this week’s learning, I appreciated the critical role played by reflection skills in developing a good relationship between the counsellor and the client. I acknowledged that reflection of feelings enables counsellors to have a deeper understanding of the client’s situation (Hetzner, 2013). I will use reflection of feelings hand in hand with the refection of content, hence being able to improve my attending skills and counselling skills in general.
Counsellors are able to ask get information from their clients by asking questions. For this reason, the skill of asking questions is important to a counsellor. From the lessons learnt on question skills in counselling, it was seen that there are two main types of questions used in counselling namely open and closed questions. Open questions are questions where the respondent (client) is not limited on what and how to answer. Open questions are used when the counsellor wants to get a wide range of information from the client (AIPC, 2014). They also give them opportunities to know more about the client in instances where he or she might deviate from the contexts of the questions asked. On the other hand, close questions are expected to be answered using a specific response (AIPC, 2014). This type of question aims at getting specific information from the respondents. Reframing enables counsellors to make follow ups on previous questions so as to get more information. An example is where an open question may be followed by closed questions so as to get specific information that came up in the broad response given for the former question. Summarising skills in turn come in handy in deducing the important information as gotten from the client’s responses. The summaries form an information base on which the counsellor is able to understand the client better.
Reflecting on the use of open and closed question in my personal life, I came to appreciate its importance in enabling counsellors get information about their clients. I came to realise that I have been using open ended and closed questions all my life in various contexts. Knowing when to ask which type of question at which time comes in handy in enabling me get the maximum possible information from people that interact with. In the future, I will develop my skills in questions asking so as to increase my efficiency as a counsellor.
AIPC, 2014.Couselling Micro Skills, http://www.aipc.net.au/student_bonuses/Counselling%20Micro%20Skills.pdf
Elliott, R., Bohart, C., Watson, C., & Greenberg, S. 2011. Empathy.Psychotherapy,48(1); 43.
Geldard, K., & Geldard, D., 2008. An Integrative Approach. Personal Counselling Skills. Charles C. Thomas, Illinois
Hetzner, S., 2013. Reflection in Professional Practice, Retrieved on 25th November 2014 from http://epub.uni-regensburg.de/29830/1/HETZNER_Dissertation_Reflection.pdf
Koole, S., Dornan, T., Aper, L., Scherpbier, A., Valcke, M., Cohen-Schotanus, J., Derese, A., 2011. Factors Confounding the Assessment of Reflection: A Critical Review, BMC Mediacl Education, 11(104);1-9
Wicks, R., Parsons, R., & Capps, D., 1993. Clinical Handbook of Pastoral Counselling, Volume 1 Expanded Version, Paulist Press USA