COUNSELLING ADULT DYSLEXICS
While the differences between psychotherapy and counselling may be debated, we shall not be concerning ourselves with that debate. We shall use the term 'counselling' to refer to any procedure that focuses on helping clients solve a specific personal, or work-related, problem or to make progress in their personal development. The key aspects of the therapeutic exchange discussed here, which are specific to dyslexics, still remain pertinent to both counselling and psychotherapy. We are defining 'psychotherapy' loosely as any intervention that aims to facilitate major changes affecting the whole person, by thinking, talking, listening and reflecting.
Miles (1988) draws a distinction between 'generalist' and 'specialist' counselling expertise. The former he describes as being common to all forms of counselling, including the ability to be a good listener, show empathy and be non-judgemental. The 'specialist' expertise refers to skills that are required for specific areas of concern in relation to individual conditions. According to Miles, counsellors with specialist expertise are those who have a 'technical knowledge over and above their ability to listen and discuss'.
This chapter will focus on the specialist expertise that we have concluded is both relevant to and required for effective support, training and counselling of dyslexic adults. Our conclusions are based on more than 25 years of combined experience in providing services to adult dyslexics in employment. Although generalist skills are not examined in this chapter in any significant detail, the underlying assumption is that anyone providing support services to adult dyslexics will have these skills as well as other appropriate qualifications.
The chapter starts by examining some important general issues that counsellors and therapists need to understand if they are to provide effective interventions for adult dyslexics. Those areas where counsellors need to use mostly generalist skills are outlined, and this is followed by a discussion of dyslexic issues that require specialist skills. The role and benefits of Internet counselling, or 'cybercounselling', are discussed, and the chapter concludes with some brief comments on psychotherapy and the possible applications of the Internet as a psychotherapeutic tool for adult dyslexics.