What is Counselling?
Counselling is a talking therapy within the Person-Centred Framework, developed during the 1950s by Carl Rogers. Counselling has a positive and optimistic view of human nature.
It is underpinned by the philosophy that people are essentially good and that ultimately the individual knows what is right for themselves.
Counselling is about supporting the client in talking trough their problems and helping them to reach their own conclusions and solutions about how best to deal with the problem.
The Core Conditions of Counselling
The core conditions of counselling involve conditions that need to be met for therapy to be effective. These are not framed as skills to be acquired, but as personal attitudes or attributes practiced by the therapist and communicated to the client. All of them are entirely interlinked, each supporting the others to create the climate of safety and understanding needed to reduce incongruence in the client and promote self-actualization.
1. Unconditional positive regard: accepting the client as they are, creating a non-judgemental space for the client.
2. Empathy: the therapist shows the client that they are understanding of their experience and feelings in the here and now.
3. Congruence: the therapist is congruent and genuine with the client, this involves the therapist being transparent with the client regarding feelings that may be present in them during the therapy as well as their experience of the client.
Principles of Counselling
· Self-Actualization: Describes the concept at the top of the Maslow Hierarchy of needs. It is believed that people have a remarkable capacity for self-healing and personal growth leading towards self-actualization. Self-actualization involves acceptance of who you are despite your mistakes and limitations.
· Self-concept: Consists of all the ideas and values that characterize the self or “me” and includes a consistent set of perceptions and beliefs about “what I am” and “what I can do” which in turn influences our perception of the world.
· Self-responsibility: Suggests that the individual is responsible for themselves and in counselling translates into not giving advice as this may prevent the client from making their own decisions or finding out what is truly the best solution for them.
· State of incongruence between the ideal and actual self: Through the counselling we work so the idea of who they would like to be is congruent with their actual behavior.
“Rather than being guided by images of how to be, people need to attend to how they actually are and to respect this.” Leslie Greenberg
· Non-Directivity and interpretation: The counsellor does not try to take the control and make diagnosis about the client´s issues, neither instructing the client how to deal with their difficulties. Instead, the client is viewed as the expert on their own life.
· Focus on here and now.
How Counselling works?
The most important part in Counselling is the quality of the relationship between client and therapist. Its success is wholly dependent on the capacity of the therapist to enter an experiential relationship with a client, not hide behind professional masks or intellectual expertise
“In my early professional years, I was asking the question: How can I treat, or cure, or change this person? Now I would phrase the question in this way: How can I provide a relationship which this person may use for his own personal growth?”
The client is responsible for improving their life, not the therapist. Counselling places the emphasis on genuineness and on being led by the client, who consciously and rationally decides for themselves what is wrong and what should be done about it. The role of the therapist in Counselling is to support the client in their own process, and with that in mind the only techniques used are listening, understanding, accepting unconditionally, reflecting, summarizing with the client´s words and sharing.
Main differences between Counselling and CBT
CounsellingCBTNon directive, supporting the client and respecting their own pace in the process.Directive, focused and structured, with clear and agreed goals for therapyFocuses on the emotions and on the therapeutic relationship.Focuses on the relationship between thoughts, emotions, behaviours and physical symptoms.Used for mild problems, life events reactions, low mood, relationship issues, low self-esteem, existential difficulties.Effective for a wide range of conditions as phobias, depressions, panic attacks, severe anxiety, PTSD.Techniques: listening, reflecting, summarizing, sharing and accepting.Techniques: cognitive restructuring, exposure, relaxation techniques, journaling, behavior activation, thought records.