Counselling is a really big responsibility, which is why a lot of worries come from being a counsellor. Usually, I hear a lot of counsellors voicing out their worries about their method in providing help to other people. There are these usual ‘doubts’ in the way they handle their clients. I’ve heard these from people who have attended my Accidental Counsellor Training. For example:
“Am I really helping them, or am I hurting them?”
“Am I really providing good intervention?”
I want to really tell you something right now: Be Confident! I also want you to be much clearer about the principles to focus on and have a sort of framework about what to avoid and what to do. I needed to come up with a simple ‘do this, don’t do that’. This is why I’ve designed a template that contains some counselling guidelines you can follow.
Accidental Counselling: 3 Do’s and Don’ts
Don’t: Give Advice
Do: Empower them by creating a space so that they can explore possibilities. Acknowledge, affirm and validate their experience.
What happens when advice is given to a client? The person will now feel a lot less motivated to act upon this advice. Researchers say that telling people what to do lowers their motivation for doing it. What we want to do now, is to connect with them first and create a space so that the client actually comes up with their own ideas and the next best step. This of course, then, empowers the person and feels like they can they actually get out of their issues and they can cope and manage the problems the face in their life. You want to empower them and not form a dependency with you as a counsellor or a guru. When they can discover the answer or the next best step, they own it much more. The likelihood of them taking action is much much higher.
Don’t: Be in your head
Do: Be in their head! Create a “space”. Listen to verbal & non-verbal communication.
Being in your head forces you to think about solutions. It makes you analyze their situation so you can understand and figure out how you can help them. Though this might be the case, we’re not actually present and really listening to what’s going with the other person. You become too preoccupied with what you’re thinking about, rather than simply creating a neutral space. The purpose is to have this space where you can have no agenda whatsoever in solving these issues. The only agenda you’re supposed to have is to deeply understand the experience that’s being communicated to you verbally and non-verbally by the client. This makes you understand these issues better. Once the client feels like you have understood these issues the same way he or she feels [or maybe understand these issues better than them], the person will be able to allow you to guide them to move on to the next step.
Don’t: Analyze/Focus on the Past
Do: Help the client construct a vision of solution “next step”.
As much as you want to acknowledge that you have understood the problem, the danger with analyzing the past is that it takes your clients to remembering the events and then lingering there, as opposed to moving forward and finding a solution to this problem. You should be able to help them construct a vision of what the next best step could be for them. A very simple question you can ask to help you do that would be: “How would you like things to be?”. This will help the client focus more and elaborate on what is the desired outcome rather than what they don’t want.
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