When a client interacts with a counsellor it turns out that these two individuals bond into a positive relationship hard to break. Clients open up to the counsellors and everything turns emotional, the counsellor becomes part of the client’s experiences and through the relationship, the client’s goal will be achieved. From week 2 to eleven I have been involved in sessions I have never been in before. I role played as a client in the first five weeks and the bond with my counsellor was so tight that I became emotional every time I shared my experiences. The emotional moments turned into tears trying to let go of all the issues within me. The rest of the weeks I role played as a counsellor and the trend was the same my client became emotional and the sessions too ended up in tears.
Empathy is an important skill for a counsellor to demonstrate as it gives one the ability to perceive the clients experience, and then be able to communicate back observation to the client as a way of clarifying their experience. When communicating empathy to the client skills such attendance is critical. Use of verbal and non-verbal attending helps in the sharing of the client’s experiences as the counsellor responds in a manner that the client feels the situation he/she is going through is shared and someone is paying attention in a positive way, (McLeod, & McLeod, 2011,p.23). Attendance reflects a counsellor’s behavior of paying full attention to the client in a way that reflects acceptance and support of the client. It is important that you express the response at the appropriate level of the client’s emotions to avoid disappointing them and making them distant. I shared my experience in school to my counsellor whereby one of my schoolmates has been spreading false rumors about me; the student also talks of my family in a bad way making me look bad among other students. I even have had difficulties socializing as other students distant themselves from me. It was hard for me as I tried informing my teachers but nothing much has been done to deal with this issue. My counsellor responded well by being keen on what I was saying, she repeatedly nodded to avoid interrupting my story and encouraged me to give more information.
When reflecting on the content of the clients experience, selective focus on cognitive parts of the message is important, (Chen, 2003, p.67). The key content of the message should be communicated back in a shortened form. Before starting the session the counsellor knows about the topic but do not know about the details of the message. He/she starts by asking the client a question that reflects the whole message, for example when talking of my experience in the school the client asked, “you want us to discuss about a problem with a schoolmate in of yours”. After the counsellor asks the question I was able to tell my story well and it was the same case for the client I was helping. It is required that the counsellor identifies significant points in the message and recalls them. The counsellor should also help the client identify the person or idea he/she is talking about, this is achieved mostly by expressing a behavior of the person in the message with the right word and if the client feels it appropriate for the person he/she will keep on using it. When describing the schoolmate tarnishing my name and that of my family the counsellor gave the word disrespectful, this actually fitted the behavior, (Egan, 2010, p.53). This is a role very crucial as it determines the concern and the capability of a counsellor in helping the client.
Reflective skills on the client’s feelings, give the counsellor a chance to reflect the clients experience in a respectful and an open minded manner. This is also done through verbal or nonverbal communication. The most important part is choosing the right words to use in communicating back to the clients feelings and experiences. After sharing my experience in week one the counsellor was able to reflect on my experiences. She told me she sense the loneliness I was facing and the frustration as there seemed to be no help with my experience. I could not agree more as those were some of the feelings I had, (Mearns & Thorne 2007). This is what a counsellor with good reflective skills should portray making sure he client becomes comfortable as the feelings are respected and well understood. It is easy to achieve the goals of the counselling program if the counsellor applies the correct empathetic skills.
The questions raised by the counsellor should be appropriate to the client’s situation. Open questions can be asked in an attempt to encourage the client to tell more of the experience and closed questions helps ask short answer questions for the purposes of gaining accurate information, (Armstrong, 2006, p.12). An example of the open ended question I asked as a counsellor to a client who experienced bullying at the neighborhood was, how do you feel? The client was able to reflect his experience and the effect the bullying had on him. The reflection and feeling is what I was looking for, a detailed explanation of what is bothering the client. To get more clarity on the issues during my sessions as a client the counsellor asked closed questions like are you in the same class? Do you come from the same neighborhood? You have tried to respond to the issue but you don’t have a way to do it.? It helped me for example in knowing about my clients experience with the neighbors and how he felt helpless as he did not have a way to respond to the bullying. The student who was spreading false rumors about me is a neighbor and she was behind me with one school which proves the disrespect. This reflection brought about by my counsellor’s question gave me confidence on the road to find an appropriate measure to deal with the issue.
Reframing is a technique applied by counsellors in putting a positive spin on a client’s perspective of the experiences. This skill requires the counsellor help the client perceive the circumstances they are in from a different perspective without imposing personal values and beliefs. This changes some perspectives that could be dangerous for the clients especially when they see themselves as the cause of the problems they are going through or generally victimizing themselves. It is crucial to deal with the client’s perspective in a lighter way and help them view the experience also in a way that makes it easy for them to deal with problems in a positive way, (Knapp, 2007, p.87). Reframing of my problems when I was seeing my counsellor helped view the world in a brighter perspective different from the previous view of an imperfect world in which I am unfit to exist. This perspective was the same for my client but I was able to change the mind by helping him stop viewing himself as the victim. Mostly what is created by a counsellor in such a situation is a therapeutic relationship regardless of whether the client views the experiences in a positive manner or not.
To summarize, the counsellor should provide direction and focus for the session, (Rosengren, 2009, p.54). Significant issues raised throughout the session are brought together at the end of the session in order to identify problems in the presentation and look for extra areas we can discover. When I was having a session with my client I realized at the end of the session I had not exhausted the problems but the client looked contented, I had no more time and the best thing to do was tell the client we were going to discuss more about the issue in the next session.
Following the flow of the clients experience or what is referred to as tracking is very important, (Levitt, 2001). This s a key skill as the client observes whether the client is keen on what he/she is saying and it should be confidently demonstrated. In case the client sense lack of this skill much information may be withheld. The session requires support as the client tells his/her experience and lack of this skill the counsellor will not be in a position to provide the support required to the client. I was able to respond and create a positive environment for the client in which he gave the information freely without holding back. At the end of the second session the client told me that he liked the way I was paying attention to his experience. I realized that my tracking skill was alive and helpful to my client, (Doherty, & McDaniel, 2010, p.23).
Another important part of counselling programs is normalizing which helps build openness and trust between clients and counsellors, (Burwell & Chen, 2006, p.25). As a client facing my rival neighbor and school mate I felt as if I was the only one suffering or in that position. The same was the case for my client who felt that the world was unfair to him, he hurt no one but the bullies kept harming him every time they met. To deal with situation a statement complimenting the client to let them realize that the problem they are facing is shared by many individuals is necessary. During my sessions I helped normalize my clients situation through statements like “that’s a pretty common occurrence in the neighborhoods and schools”, “I have had many clients with such a problem” what I could see was a more relaxed client as he realized this is a normal occurrence for any individual, (Martin, 2014).
To help clients do some reality test trying to apply what they have learnt from the session in the future is a good strategy for challenging the clients. At this level the counsellor tries to discover the unused resources and strengths of the client, (Egan, 2010). I asked my client what he would do or say to the bullies if he met them. The answer was “I would do nothing and for what to say, I am not sure of that, I believe I need to think about the issue more.” When I was asked by my counsellor what I would say to the schoolmate, during my role play as a client, I said that I would ask her one question why she was doing that to me. There was nothing bothering me much than to know I had done nothing to deserve the treatment. There was more to explore in the sessions so my question also required some thought due to the possible reactions of the person, (Reuters, 2012, p.71).
Congruence is key in counselling as the counsellor is expected to be genuine to their clients. It is a skill different from what happens from a psychodynamic therapist, who don’t disclose of who they are to the patients, (McLeod, 2007, p.34). It is expected of the counsellors to let the clients experience their personality or who they really are. The skill helps also build trust between the client and the counsellor strengthening their relationship which will help them share more confidential information. I felt that my counselor was open like a book to me which made me feel good as I was not only draining my problems to a total stranger but to someone I knew, (Corey, 2012). It is also important for the counsellor to facilitate an informed decision making, conflict resolution and problem solving element in the client. These will help the client deal with small issues in the future with minimal effort avoiding long term effects of ignoring the issues.
Subject: Counseling Session with Tom Armstrong]
I Tom was experiencing problems with some neighborhood kids. They were older than him and abused him whenever they met. It was problematic for him and his life was withdrawn so much until the parents brought him to me.
II I instilled some skills the kid did not have like good decision making and problem solving. The advice was to help deal with the issues at hand in a peaceful way to avoid its escalation or turning worse. I told Tom to avoid routes he knew the boys were and make sure he does not irritate them at any time. I helped the kid stop victimizing himself and rather view the issue in a different angle.
III Tom presented facts of how he was bullied and physically abused by the boys. His explanation gave me a clear understanding of the situation.
IV The client listened well to the advice offered and was ready apply the skills acquired. He agreed to forgive the boys and not do anything as a way of making them payback for what they did. He accepted the issue is normal and it can happen to anyone.
Due to experience in counselling a counsellor is capable of applying a variety of methods and skills when helping clients. The counsellor will have a holistic view of the issue looking at what is happening emotionally, cognitively, and physically. With such a view there is a huge impact on how I see myself and my clients with the values they hold and the consequences of their behavior and beliefs.
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