Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

Self-Monitoring and Counseling Skills Skills-Based versus Interpersonal Process Recall Training

Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

Self-Monitoring and Counseling Skills Skills-Based versus Interpersonal Process Recall Training

Article excerpt

For many years, counselor educators have debated whether general personality characteristics and relationship-building abilities or specific knowledge and skills are the most important qualities to emphasize in preparing counselors. Some studies have indicated that counselors' personality traits and relationships with clients have greater impact on clients' outcomes than the specific theories or techniques used (Stein & Lambert, 1995: Stevens, Dinoff, & Donnenworth, 1998). For example, interpersonal characteristics of counselors, such as self-monitoring, self-efficacy, and dogmatism, have been assessed in relation to empathy skills (Barrow, 1990; Haferkamp, 1989: Haverkamp, 1994; Ottens, Shank, & Long, 1995; Tongue, 1989). Haferkamp suggested that those low in self-monitoring, although generally perceived to be genuine and congruent, were at risk of appearing to be or becoming dogmatic or rigid in response to clients' needs. In contrast, those high in self-monitoring might appear to be manipulative, unless their directive and adaptive interpersonal styles were not tempered. Haverkamp found that those low in self-monitoring tended to be nonconforming and less disposed to follow directions and imitate behavior offered by supervisors. Those high in self-monitoring have been shown to have low tolerances to ambiguity, and thus might become confused by too many cues given in counseling and supervision situations. Thus, it seems that counselors-in-training who are high in self-monitoring skills might learn counseling skills more easily and efficiently than those who are low in self-monitoring skills.

However, not all studies have favored counselor personality traits over skill levels attained by counselors. There has been some evidence that systematic training in higher level counseling skills is related to positive client outcomes (Lambert, 1989). In addition, Larson (1998) found that highly structured training procedures resulted in lower levels of anxiety and led to higher level counseling skills for participants.

Historically, the training of counselors was rooted in psychoanalytic theory (Baker, Daniels, & Greeley, 1990). With this approach, participants were expected to develop conceptual and therapeutic skills for use with clients while undergoing psychoanalysis. During psychotherapy, the teaching psychologist acted as an expert model and the participants' personal and professional problems were examined through analysis.

The Interpersonal Process Recall (IPR) training model (Kagan, 1976, 1980) followed the early psychoanalytic training approach by having participants watch counseling sessions conducted by expert counselors who intentionally made use of specific counseling techniques. Then, after the demonstrations, the experts described the thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations they had experienced while counseling (Baker et al., 1990). Following this, counselors-in-training described their own thoughts and feelings experienced while counseling. The focus of this activity was to help counseling participants recognize and examine the skills they used for understanding and dealing with clients' problems. Therefore, it could be concluded that IPR training that recognizes and uses the existing personality traits of participants could result in their learning to apply counseling skills to conceptualize and deal with client problems.

Another approach to the training of counselors is that of Carkhuff's (1987) Human Resource Training/Human Resource Development (HRT/HRD) model, which was based on Rogers's (1980) core conditions of counseling. The HRT/ HRD model expanded and defined the concept of empathy to include more observable counseling behaviors and used a didactic-experiential training program to teach the core conditions. The HRD/HRT Model (Carkhuff, 1987) has been shown to be effective for teaching lower level (attending, active listening, and empathy) counseling skills. …

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