Counselling Skill

Counselling Skill

Counselling Skill

Counselling Skill

Excerpt

This book is about doing counselling. It is about what happens in the meeting between a person who wants to talk through an issue in their life, and another person who is willing to be there to assist them to do this. It is a book about practical things: tasks and methods. It is a book that has been written primarily for people such as doctors, nurses, teachers, clergy, and those who work in social services, human resources, trade unions, community projects, the criminal justice system, advice centres and many other contexts, who are called upon by the people with whom they are dealing to give them some space to deal with pressing personal concerns.

I have found myself drawn towards wanting to write this book for two reasons. First, it seems that even though there has been a massive expansion over the past few decades in the number of counselling agencies and psychotherapy clinics that are available, it is still the case, and probably will always be the case, that the majority of episodes of counselling take place outside of these settings. For example, of the large numbers of people who report in surveys that their lives are visited by depression and hopelessness, it is likely that less than 10 per cent are receiving psychological treatment from a professional counsellor or psychotherapist, or drug treatment from a doctor. Most of these people talk to, or try to talk to, whoever is at hand in their life who seems reliable and competent. There is a great deal of counselling, therefore, that takes place in brief episodes, fitted into consultations with a doctor or nurse, or in the middle of a tutorial with a college teacher. In this book I refer to this type of counselling as embedded: the counselling role is embedded within other roles being fulfilled by the practitioner, and the counselling conversation is embedded within other professional tasks (teaching, nursing, career advice) that are being carried out around it. So, the first reason for tackling this book was that the topic seems socially and culturally important. I believe that it would be a good thing if teachers, nurses and other human service workers allowed themselves to respond to the emotional pain of their clients and listened to their personal stories. We live in a world characterized by an all-consuming drive towards efficiency and a bureaucratic approach to people. In this kind of world, a bit of counselling is a humanizing factor.

The second factor that has motivated me to work on this book has been my dissatisfaction with most of the books on this topic that are currently in circulation. I do not think that the existing literature on counselling skills does justice to the reality of embedded counselling. In my view, the counselling profession has sought to distance itself from this domain by its use of the terms such as 'counselling skills' and 'interpersonal skills'. This has happened, I believe, because at a time when counselling profession has struggled to become established as a recognized area of specialist knowledge, it has been in the interest of professional counsellors to emphasize that what they do is special, and can only be done by people who have received lengthy . . .

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