This report will discuss and evaluate what the key issues are within the counselling profession and show a better understanding of Rogers theory of Person Centred Counselling. Explaining the issues that counsellors come across in the counselling profession as well as outlining the BACP Moral Qualities and Ethical Framework. There are many factors in the counselling profession that will be outlined concerning contracts, confidentiality and supervision and the importance of them, along-side other aspects all which are as important as each other in this particular profession. This will also clearly state the guidelines that are appropriate for a counsellor in training or in practice to follow.
These are in place to ensure good practise in the counselling profession. As stated by the BACP (2010), the values inform the principles and show an ethical commitment. As stated by Kearns (2011:123), it is the “practitioner’s responsibility to seek professional support” and then goes on to state that a professionals duty of care is made for the client’s well-being without any self-interest of the counsellor. There are a number of factors in the ethical framework which should be honoured as a practitioner in the counselling profession. Being trustworthy, having respect for the client and being fair are just a small part of the ethical framework. There will be times when circumstances arise to where it becomes difficult for a counsellor to have all the principles in place and in these times supervision is paramount.
Supervision and self-management
Supervision is essential to all counsellors for professional development and is something which should occur for one hour to every eight hours of counselling done as recommended by the BACP (2010). Supervision in some way is like counselling as the supervisor must have the core conditions in place so that the counsellor does not feel judged and feels that it is an accepting and understanding environment. As stated by Munro et al (1989), supervision is there to support counsellors to become aware of their own competence and any weaknesses to ensure that the counsellor has a sense of self-care. Supervision is in place for a counsellor to help solve problems that arise and has been stated by Munro et al (1989) that supervision is learning and a productive relationship, well-structured and goal directed.
Self-care in the counselling profession is essential as this is something counsellors promote to the clients. As stated by Thomas (2006) that all counsellors must undergo personal therapy as this is an element of self-care and this is to look after their physical and emotional well-being. No matter what the circumstances are for a client to go to a counsellor, the counsellor must be self-aware as problems arise from different clients and their personal issues and these can be close to home and can even bring something back for the counsellor. There is a possibility something traumatic can be brought back after seeing a client going through something similar and it is important that if such issues arise that these are taken to supervision. It is also vital that when such issues do arise as stated by Sanderson (2006), that the counsellor remains to have the respect for the client to deal with their personal issues in their own way.
Insurance policies are put into place to ensure that the counsellor is covered from claims being made against them in instances like malpractice. The insurance needed are:
- public liability: This is in place so if a client was to have an accident on the premises where the counselling sessions were being held, they would be able to make a claim.
- indemnity insurance: The BACP (2010) have put into place that counsellors have indemnity insurance as a requirement. This covers the cost due to practice-related litigation as suggested by Thomas (2006).
Even more so if a counsellor is working from home or in a private practise as this complies with any supervision requirements. Insurance does not just cover the client it also covers the counsellor for being liable for many factors as stated above. To remain professional it is of upmost importance that a counsellor follows the guideline of having insurance.
Being professional is essential in any work place but in the counselling profession it is more so, as the trust built for experienced counsellors underpins the ethical framework as suggested by Milner et al (2001). It has also been stated that for a counsellor to refer a client on due to difficulties beyond the counsellors competence has been seen as a mark of professionalism and was also stated that “fools rushing in where angels fear to tread cause all sorts of problems” (Milner et al 2001: 282). This is a reason better than any for counsellors to be professional. The stigma about counselling as a profession has on occasion been misunderstood which then leaves potential clients to believe a counsellor cannot be trusted as a professional.
Boundaries are put into place in the counselling profession as a rule or principle for a clearer way to understand the limitations to a session. For example time boundaries are put into place so that the counsellor can ensure the client is aware of the time they have in a session together and usually not to exceed this time boundary unless counsellor see fit to carry on due to not wanting to leave client in a bad place. Boundaries can be for many things in this profession:
- Length of sessions
- How to be acknowledged outside of counselling (if at all)
- Where sessions will be held
When boundaries are in place, this ensures a sense of safety for the client and counsellor as stated by Smith et al (2012:40), “Clear boundaries create a sense of containment.” A framework is created by having boundaries in place which then assists client’s to develop a sense of trust in the counsellor.
As stated by Lichman (1991: 197):
“Boundaries are of crucial importance to the counselling process, and reactions by the client to time, to breaks in the continuity of sessions, as well as to the ending of counselling are full of significance”
Lichman (1991) then goes on to suggest that by applying boundaries it creates a heightened experience for the client’s process. Depending on the client and their experience to boundaries, depends on whether the client feels the boundaries are too loose or quite restricting. As stated by Wosket (2002), this is where the matching of client and counsellor is important and if the counsellor where to consider themselves for example, too rigid for a set client then a referral would be in the best interest for the client, to a counsellor more suitable.
Contracts are an agreement which explains the exchanging of money for a service and when in the counselling profession, contracting is of upmost importance as this is an agreement that both client and counsellor must agree to before starting any counselling sessions. A contract is needed so the client is not under any false impression and stops any misunderstanding due to poor information. A contract is required to have information such as how many sessions there will be, the cost of each session and the confidentiality clause along with other information to give the client everything they need to make an informed decision. A contract is made from a therapeutic perspective and a business perspective to give clear outlines of what is expected from the counsellor and of the client, for example a notice period if either in the agreement has to make a cancelation.
Sills (2006: 52), states that person centred counsellors do not see contracts the way other therapists do, and then goes on to state “They define the relationship within which we work, and limit or enhance the quality and nature of our work”. Therefore, no matter the type of client, a contract is essential one way or another as overall a contract is in place to protect both client and counsellor.
Confidentiality is the most important attribute in the counselling profession as this is where a client tells a counsellor private and personal things about themselves and their lives. Also it is confidentiality that keeps the clients autonomy as they may not wish others to know they are going to therapy. However confidentiality has other aspects to it, as if a client were to disclose certain information the counsellor may have to break confidentiality for the safety of the client as well as any others possibly affected by whatever has been disclosed. For example if the client were to disclose that they had been sexually abused as a child and the abuser is still in contact with other children, the counsellor has the duty of care to break confidentiality and report the matter. Confidentiality has been described by Jenkins (1999) as “a banner, signalling loyalty to a cluster of professional values or concerns.” It is an interpersonal contract between client and counsellor and the only time confidentiality can be broken is in the interest of the public due to legal requirements. Due to data protection a counsellor must report anything that is said in terms of serious harm to the client or anyone else. Anything to do with illegal activities such as money laundering, child abuse or drug dealing is a must to disclose to the authorities. This should all be mentioned in the contract between client and counsellor.
Usually to refer a client on is due to a value conflict between counsellor and client as stated by Corey et al (2011). To refer a client on, there are rules and regulations set by the BACP (2010) and talking through with the client about the decision that has been made. Referrals are not as easy as they may seem as to a professional counsellor a decision like this is not to be made likely. A counsellor needs to think about:
finding a suitable counsellor: Finding the right kind of counsellor to fit the needs of the client is very important.
Confidentiality: Ensuring information disclosed during the referral process is protected.
Keeping the clients interest at priority: Above all ensuring that the referral process is what is best for the client.
No counsellor is suitable to every client and it has been stated by Nelson-Jones (2012) that if a counsellor does not have the level of competence required then referral is necessary. There are many ethical issues surrounding referrals and there are many styles of counselling. Not one form of counselling suits every client.
There are no legal requirements to keep records of any session, however overtime it has become an expectation of professional bodies to keep appropriate notes as it is good practise. All records must be kept in a safe and confidential place as client’s confidentiality is a legal requirement. There are different systems to which a counsellor may keep all records such as notes, such as a single file system, two file systems or multiple file system to ensure that all notes are not identifiable or be able to be linked to any others. For example a multiple file system may have recordings of a session in one, finances in another and notes of a session in another. This is all to ensure that the clients are protected and remain confidential.
There are not many texts on the issue surrounding record keeping, however the texts that are available did not cover much but what has been covered is the fact that in record keeping, it is most important to protect the privacy of the clients being identifiable through information.
Note taking is very important as this is where a client’s progress is charted. This is also a way for a counsellor to be able to review the progress they have made with the client. As stated by Manthei (2006) the quality of a counsellors notes is also of upmost importance as messy and unfinished notes leaves an impression of being non-professional.
In Person Centred Counselling, founded by Carl Rogers (1957), note taking is something which is done after the session has ended with the client as it is the listening that takes precedence over the notes. In different models of counselling this may not be the same, however Rogers (1957) believed that giving the client the undivided attention. Also stated by Rogers (1995:8) “It is through hearing people that I have learnedâ€¦”
If in a counselling session a counsellor used an audio tape then the note taking is by far more simple, however, if one is not used the counsellor could miss vital point as the recall of memory is perfect.
It is good note taking that enables the counsellor recall what was said in the previous session with the client as not all details can be recalled on the basis of memory and as Ivey et al (2007) explains, if a counsellor was called upon by the law a counsellor is accountable for interviews which require notes.
To conclude, this report has discussed the importance of following the BACP (2010) moral qualities and ethical framework. Also discussed was the importance of boundaries as without boundaries it is unprofessional and the standards set for the client would mean nothing without boundaries.
As a counsellor the skills needed to counsel are the backbone of the theory Person Centred Counselling, founded by Carl Rogers (1957). However, without the Ethical framework and personal moral qualities this can leave clients vulnerable to all kinds of ‘counsellors’. Without ethics or morals what kind of a counsellor could call themselves a counsellor? As stated by Corney et al (2006: 45) that having:
“Good character, conscience and integrity are necessary virtues; however, as we hope to make clear, they are not sufficient in themselves to deal with the conflicts that can arise in any counsellor’s practice”.
Supervision is paramount to all counsellors as this is a duty of care to the client and also self-care to the counsellor. If a counsellor believes to be competent on every level yet is not competent on all levels, the problems this could cause for the client could be potentially harmful. Supervision is required and should be maintained following the standards of the BACP (2010).
This report also discussed the matter of how important confidentiality is in all cases as well as highlighting the fact that if something disclosed could cause serious harm to the client or be a cause for concern to the general public then this should be reported to the appropriate authorities.
Insurance, the same as confidentiality and supervision is very much required as a professional counsellor to remain being professional. A client is not likely to trust a counsellor that does not have a form of insurance.
The key issues within the counselling profession have been discussed throughout and are essential for any counsellor to bare them in mind and follow all regulations set by the BACP (2010).
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