In an essay of 2500 words, consider what exactly makes a good counselor. Counseling is a process where a person tries to assist another person to be able to handle his or her problems. A counselor is not just there to give advice; it is also based on mutual trust and understanding. Counseling is an opportunity for us to help people to mentally adjust to different situations. A good counselor should display sincerity, good listening skills and be able to assist people in gaining a better understanding of themselves and their problems.
A good counselor above all should be really interested in the person and their problems. Insincerity is very easy for most people to detect and makes the counseling sessions less effective. A good and sincere counselor makes time for their client and makes and books sessions so both parties have time to speak and listen. A good counselor will listen attentively to what is being said and to work out, by looking at body language and gesture, what the client is really saying. Most of us are good at talking but need to make a big effort mentally to actively listen.
Don’t waste your time!
Order your assignment!
Listening is a big fundamental character trait for any good counselor. There are a couple of different methods of counseling, ‘Direct Approach’ and ‘Indirect Approach’ although I have found a combination of both is often appropriate. ‘Direct Approach’ When the counselor takes on the responsibility for problem identification and resolutions he or she would be using the direct approach (I talk, you listen). Traditionally people faced with problems and personal crisis turned for help from those they thought to be more experienced and wise (for example a vicar, priest or rabbi).
This direct approach to counseling may also be called the problem solving approach. Counselors may collect bits of information, which is aimed to determine the problem caused, this may happen to some degree before the counseling sessions start. During the session the counselor discusses the problem with the client, giving recommendation or suggestions sparingly. We must not force or squeeze out clients input even though the directive approach is being used. ‘Non-Directive Approach’, a non-directive method. This is when the counselors articipation is very small and the techniques of reflection and acceptance are used to encourage the client to freely express him or herself, the counselor pays more attention to the attitude and emotions which are associated with the problem. Additionally, the client is encouraged where possible to choose the goals. Making the client take some degree of decision making and responsibility. This method is a little limited. It depends on the ability and the level of intelligence of the client. This method is also limited by the desire of the client.
That is, regarding whether or not he or she wishes to change their current situation for an improved and more secure future. Despite some of the floors, the ‘Non-Directive’ method of counseling, in my view, is almost certainly the most appropriate and effective method to use. More often than not, this has evidently been the more successful approach as opposed to that of the ‘Directive Approach’. To be a good counselor you need to be non- judgmental, you need to be able to accept the client for what they are and who they are.
We also need to accept the client for what level they are at emotionally at all stages throughout the clients counseling life with us. Also as good counselors we need to now how to be patient, sometimes our own goals for the client can take a little bit longer than anticipated. We need to always be prepared for the unexpected. When counseling a client we can have a few situations of three steps forward and two steps back syndrome, which can be very disheartening as a counselor especially when you have seen your client make huge progress, we must never let that kill our self confidence as counselors.
Good listening and communication is the key basic of any counselor. There is a big difference between hearing and listening. Listening requires active participation. We must be mentally alert and pay attention physically. Hearing comes naturally, but listening well does not always come naturally. Clients seem to trust those they think have listened and have tried to understand them. We should always watch what our body language is sending out to our client, we should also be very careful of what comes out of our mouths, and the verbal communication, which is exchanged between us, and the client.
We can easily give our clients false hopes or damage their self-confidence by one misunderstood word. Another thing, a good counselor should always keep the clients sessions confidential. What ever is said to us should be kept confidential and should not be past on to a third party, there are exceptions depending on age of the person, mental state, and the nature of conversation being held which can warrant us passing on confidential information to a third party.
Boundaries should always be set from the beginning so both of us know how far we can go and what’s acceptable and what is unacceptable. ‘Characteristics of a good counselor’ As a counselor we need to gain trust from our clients, a client will not open up and go into any detail or area bothering them if they have no trust in the counselor. All counseling skills acquired will be next to worthless without a degree of trust from the client. To be effective as a counselor we need to earn the trust from the client.
As counselors we need to use a mixture of skills to be effective. These skills include ‘interpersonal’ skills, ‘communication’ skills, ‘listening’ skills and equally a good ‘sense of understanding’ toward the client verbally and physically with regards to their body language and facial gestures. A good counselor will stick to boundaries. This means if a session is booked for one hour, then it will be for one hour. A counselor who visits clients at home should stick to the same time limit as if they had counseled the client in the office.
If on the other hand the client can not get rid of the counselor on a home visit after the agreed time of one hour, we would then be behaving in an unprofessional manner. Boundaries are in place for both parties. When a client is speaking to a counselor the client should not be made to feel as if they are under any form of condemnation. We are not there to judge them. The last thing someone wants to hear when they are feeling down and weak is ‘well I would never of done that! ‘ or ‘what you did was awful! ‘. Counseling is not about thrusting advice at clients.
There is a popular miss-conception that counselors are only available for giving advice, this is not true. The aim and idea of the counseling is for the benefit of the client. Mainly to help them to clarify any inner negativity (thoughts, feelings, problems, etc) and, eventually, help them to come to their own conclusions on what positive line of action can be taken to resolve a particular situation. A good counselor should be very careful not to put across, or in any way force, their own opinions. If a client is able to detect (senses) that a counselor is trying to put them off doing something, e. . reading particular self help books or taking up a new hobby of some sort, it is very likely that the chosen method of approach, toward counseling that individual, was incorrect. A personal or forced opinion that has been based on the counselor’s past can easily be perceived by the client as the counselors attempt to unduly influence them (they might feel that the given scenario is not relevant to either their situation, nor a solution). This could throw the clients concentration or focus away from the session. As a client you want to be both fully understood and listened to.
If the counselor is not listening to what one is saying and equally if the counselor is speaking more than the client is speaking, then yet again we most definitely will result in another text book case example of ‘bad counseling’. A good counselor will gradually but ultimately make you feel at ease so you can open up to them and feel safe to disclose your thoughts and feelings, as a client you should not feel, in any way, shape or form feel blocked by the counselor. It is imperative that the client should feel comfortable to talk about anything without feeling convicted, judged or ridiculed.
It is acceptable for us as counselors to give a small amount of self-disclosure to a degree only if we feel it will help and/or benefit the client, but it is very important that this self-disclosure measure does not amount to a reversal of roles. That is, the client must not feel as though they are the ones that are counseling us, the counselors. Sometimes it can help to know that their counselor has witnessed and been through something similar life experiences as they might have gone through, or even may be going through.
I currently work at a youth club as a youth worker with children and young people with learning difficulties. Some of which have behavioral problems. Also, children who are generally underachieving at school and feel that they have little or no future prospects. Many of them believe that they have no option but crime. Some have even reached a stage where they are basically readily and willing to completely give up on developing or building for a working future at all. I have let some of them now that I too was once labeled as ‘underachieving’ at school and that even to this day I still have a learning disability. What I do not do is tell them what they should be doing, as we are all different. It does help a client to sometimes know that someone can identify with the struggles and difficulties also. I feel that sometimes I am ‘lucky’ as I have an edge and advantage (with regards to understanding the client hopes, despairs, expectancy, needs and requirements) in this aspect. This is because amongst other experiences I too have been a client myself in the past on a few occasions.
I have received different help from different counselors some good and some bad! In my experience (and talking as an ex service user myself), I believe that if a client is not happy with the counselor that is allocated or working on their case, they should ask themselves the following questions. Am I allowed to talk freely during sessions, am I being listened to, Is my counselor talking more in the sessions than I am, also think if the counselor is putting too much of his or her own personal opinions across to me. Am I being given advice or am I counseling the counselor?
If there is something wrong with the relationship between the client and the counselor, then no amount of counseling session are going to do the client any good. That is, not unless you feel to disclose what is wrong to your counselor. Even then, I would be dubious. After all, the issues I (the client) wish to address are not being addressed. …(listened to nor are they being understood). The client’s issues come first. The whole point of attending sessions for a client is to receive help (in the form of clarity, solutions, release, etc). They do not attend to be dictated to, or to feel as if they are just being told what to do.
To get the most out of counseling you need to be able to talk freely and also be made to feel comfortable enough want to trust and receive helpful options or possible solutions from their counselor. That is what a good counseling session are all about. I have found this assignment very interesting, and I have learnt lots of useful information for my career. To help me complete this essay I have also read the book on counseling, called Mastering Counseling Skills, which is written by Jannie and Lance Linden. This book has been very useful and helpful as a reading aid for my research on what makes a good counselor.