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The Meaning Of Counselling Psychology Essay

Alongside this, counsellors distance themselves from the idea of expert, although the fact remains that clients, when they first come for counselling, have some expectations that the counsellor will possess the knowledge, ability and expertise which they themselves lack. In such situation, the power balance is tilted in the counsellor’s favour where problems can arise and abuse of position can become a possibility. Even though the fundamental goal of counselling is to help clients locate and trust in their own capabilities and strength. Clients often do not see it like this at first, and in some cases may expect to be told what to do by the counsellor. However, the aim of the counsellor is to work together with the client to build a relationship that makes it possible for the individual to use counselling to move forward in their life. This is why establishing a relationship is so important.

When the relationship develops, then too does trust between the counsellor and client develop. This will enable the client to look at many aspects of their life, look at their relationships with others and themselves which they may not have considered or been able to face before.

Rogers (1957, 1980) believed that effective counselling is most likely when the counsellor is able to offer clients a relationship in the qualities of empathy, congruence and unconditional positive regard. Making sure the counsellor understands the client’s situation, putting themselves into their position and not judging them and throughout the session remaining genuine with them. In order for a counsellor to do that, they would have explored their own feelings, attitudes and prejudices in some detail during training, in order to be confident and self-aware of themselves in order to become a non-judgmental and supportive presence, which implies allowing the clients to express strong or negative emotions if they wish to, and through these processes to achieve a deeper understanding of the various issues concerning them. Bergin and Lambert 1978: Luborsky et al. 1983: O’Mally et al. 1983; Hill 1989, believe that successful outcome of a session does not depend on particular theory and methodology of the counsellor, but on the strength of the working alliance in the relationship between counsellor and client.

In counselling and mentoring situations, the relationship needs to take centre stage, because meaningful counselling and mentoring, depends on the establishment of a bond or alliance that is strong enough for the person to be able to tolerate talking about issues that are emotionally painful, embarrassing and sometimes even confusing. This is why counselling naturally takes time because the person seeking help may need to test out the relationship before they can rely on it. According to Carl Rogers (1959) a person enters person centred therapy in a state of incongruence. It is the role of the therapists to reverse this situation. If an individual comes into the practice vulnerable and hurt it could be because of their past failed relationships with individuals and the sudden expectation of forming a new one with someone they don’t know, would be impossible to ask. However, after some time working with the individual they would come to experience a caring relationship with a counsellor, which may allow them to begin to develop better capability for developing friendship, intimidate partnership and other types of relationships. However, the implication of that could be that the client becomes dependent on the counsellor. This danger exists, but is often overstated. (McLeod, 2007, p. 112) The counsellor should always make sure that the relationship is kept strictly professional, and also make sure the client’s aware of that.

This is where boundaries come into place. Boundaries have a considerable significance in therapeutic practice. The boundaries of therapeutic practice is that there shouldn’t be physical contact with the client, for example, no reassurance touch on the arm or shoulder, no hugs at times of great distress. Such friendly and social relations between client and therapist are prohibited in the psychoanalytic tradition in order to avoid ambiguity and unhelpful rescuing and also to ensure the therapeutic relationship is purely focused on in-session transferential dynamics. In most humanistic approached there may be some relaxing of such boundaries in the interest of the authenticity and the judicious use of tactile contact for therapeutic purposes. Some cognitive and behavioural approaches may include a strategic use of out of office visits. Clearly then, boundaries differ across models of therapy. All therapy approaches however, should carefully weigh up the benefits and costs, small acts can have large unintended consequences or meanings in the future. Also another boundary is time keeping. Again different models have different approaches. Psychoanalytic practitioners offer consistent appointments, to monitor client’s behaviour, and hold onto these agreements. Whereas, in the humanistic approach, sessions may be lengthened in order to facilitate and debrief after deep emotional therapeutic work and behaviour involves long intensive sessions. Other boundaries may include accepting only self-referrals or gifts and structuring the therapeutic environment so that client and counsellor never see each other. Again, different traditions, therapists and circumstances have different responses to gifts and other possible occurrences. It all concludes that therapeutic relationship should remain purely professional.

If boundaries are left unexplained some actions taken by the counsellor would seem abnormal and perhaps hurtful to the client. There are clients who feel abused by rigid distance and coldness experienced by therapists. (Heyward 1993) Boundaries then may be perceived as unhelpful rather than therapeutic and this makes one wonder whether some traditional prohibitions may impact heavy-handedly on clients from different classes of cultures.

According to Stanard, Sandhu and Painter (2000), as human beings are being recognized as multi-systematic organisms, spirituality and religion in human development are gaining legitimacy. Historically, the counselling profession steered away from addressing religious or spiritually issues in the counselling process with clients. Within a multi-cultural society, cultural dynamics of native models of helping often include consent that counsellors are trained to shift from a Western model and explore alternative forms of helping that may have a religious or spirituality presence in the lives of clients. Every so often this shift clashes with the traditional values and beliefs inherent to the counselling profession, values and beliefs that lead counsellors to be sensitive to issues of religion and spirituality.

In addition to this, in most cases ethnic minority clients are not seen as priority clients because their problems are not considered to be as important as those of clients who belong to the majority culture (Eleftheriadou, 1994, p.12). This can be attributed to ignorance about other cultural practices and language, and the prejudices and racism of western mental health professionals, that people from other cultures, particularly from some races, are inferior. If the whole field of cross-cultural counselling is really to cater for the needs of the racially or culturally different client, it is necessary for counsellors to understand other cultural practices beyond their own cultural group. Seeing that the individual is so deeply ingrained in his or her culture that it cannot be ignored (Eleftheriadou, 1994, p.15).

In order to accommodate these differences, there needs to be a way provided. Most professionals now realise that cultural factors really have been neglected and that it has had an impact on theory, research and practice. Many professionals have had the idea of wanting to understand the cultural differences, but hardly any development has been implemented. There hasn’t been enough done to tackle this situation. It is only now that society is gradually taking it serious, because of all these ethnic minorities living. But as a whole, this society hasn’t reached a verdict whereby we as individuals in society can be proud of. There need to be enough training provided for competent counsellors so that they can acquire experience and knowledge on how to handle these people. Similarly in mentoring and coaching, if the individual doesn’t have experience about the issues that the individual is coming into the practice for, then how are you going to coach or mentor them into improving their lives, and ways in which they can succeed? The mentors are seen as role models. Therefore, it is always vital to have experience and knowledge in the field that you are going to be working in. Most employers in society always ask for people with experience, because they know the importance of it.

Another issue is that there are individuals in society today who may be qualified to become a counsellor or mentor, however have not been accredited to the BACP, and continue to set up their own practice, as they feel that once they have the qualifications, nothing else is needed, however, being a counsellor or mentor doesn’t just take a qualification, it requires time. It is a profession where you are going to deal with people, and not just any type of people, but individuals whose lives have been affected a great deal and may be going through depression. If there hasn’t been enough training provided, the client is most likely to go away with a higher level of depression than they did before entering the practice or worse they could be abused.

One might argue, that they should ask the counsellor of their qualification and experience and their proof that they are allowed to set up this practice. However, there are some counsellors who reveal little to nothing about themselves. They are called opaque counsellors. If they reveal nothing about themselves, then how is one to know all this information? It all depends on the research you do on a counsellor and the certainty of what kind of counsellor you want. However, the problem still exists because people haven’t been informed yet.

Research and theories of human mentality all started during the inter-war years, community studies were undertaken increasingly to investigate physical ailments, but also other aspects of people’s lives such as diet and mental health. These studies confirmed a generalized prevalence of the neuroses, particularly anxiety and depression. The Second World War created several conditions for the need of a greater grasp on mental health and a growing awareness of psychosomatic illnesses. Examples of these conditions were social and marital problems, a disparate labour force, war injuries, and evacuation of the citizens. In the immediate post-war years, community based studies became relatively common with a range of medical specialities, particularly anxiety and depression were seen to be even more widespread and harmful, not only in the terms of military but in all aspects of life in peacetime. Before counselling was fully established, a lot of people dealt with their struggles in a very different manner. Some people would keep all their emotions bottled up inside them; others would resort to their close relatives or church leaders.

Counselling and Psychotherapy theories all started in the beginning of the 20th century. The most influential work is that of Sigmund Freud whose research into the human mind began in Vienna in 1881. He started working with patients who were classed as hysterical. Freud named his method psychoanalysis.

Freud and Carl Jung worked together, but eventually he split from Freud to pursue his own analytical viewpoint of psychology. Carl Jung, and other descendants of Freud's approach, focused heavily on psychodynamic theories. There are now three general types of psychological therapies; behavioural therapies, psychoanalytical/psychodynamic therapies and humanistic therapies..

The psychodynamic approach to counselling has its origins from Freud, Jung, Adler, Ferenzi, Reich and it emerged in the early 20th century. It is a model which stresses the importance of childhood experiences, and seeks to establish links between past and present by drawing parallels between what has happened in childhood and what is currently happening in adult life.

Whereas the behavioural approach orientation is concerned with actual, observable behaviour and work is produced by a number of psychologists, who, at the beginning of the century, did experiments with animals in order to formulate and validate their theories. Individual’s problems are seen in terms of learned behaviours which are often problematic; for example, phobias or obsessions, and the objective of therapy, is to help clients reverse these patterns of through a process of behaviour modification.

Finally, the most important one by Maslow, Rogers, Moustakas, Rollo May, the humanistic approach assumes that clients themselves have an intuitive knowledge of what it is they need and want. Individual’s problems are seen as entirely unique to them, and the most important aspect of Humanistic therapy is to facilitate the client’s growth towards self-actualization, integration and wholeness. These three broad classifications are the basic tools necessary for effective counselling.

Counselling has evolved a lot since the 20th century where every one used to rely on other methods of coping. So in a way, counselling has become quite beneficial for people in society, though not necessary everyone. But it only the start of something historical, in the next years to come, counselling could be seen as a productive coping mechanism for many more people. There are going to be more theories and further research on how to improve counselling as a whole. Although training individuals up to a competent stage would resolve most issues arising in counselling today. And to make sure that all practitioners do not impose culturally biased views or procedures for action that will, in effect, be harmful to clients. As a future counsellor, the thought of seeing such remarkable progression, would be incredible.


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