Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Carl Rogers' Counseling Skills CAN WORK!

I just returned from a week long Residency experience with a National University. During this Residency faculty members are assigned to train Mental Health Counseling students in basic counseling skills. Many of the skills are based on, though not limited to, skills that Carl Rogers suggested. Much of Rogers' Human Centered counseling approach was based on the idea that all people are inherently good, and that if individuals are provided the opportunity to receive unconditional positive regard from a professional, then the chances of personal growth increases. Carl Rogers also said that the therapeutic relationship is necessary and sufficient for change. Therefore, counselors are trained to utilize methods such as reflective listening (i.e. being an emotional mirror), echoing, paraphrasing, summarizing, appropriate use of open/closed-ended questions, validation, etc. to help clients feel that they are receiving an empathetic ear to their problems; thus having the environment to promote change. If you want to learn more about it, click on this youtube link to see Carl Rogers talking about his method and demonstrating it in the all-too-familiar case of Gloria. What I find to be interesting is that the basic counseling skills can transcend just the counseling office. There have been times that I have worked with couples where they have an issue with communication. It is interesting to see what can happen if they are taught how to use these basic communication skills in their relationships. They can learn how to talk with their significant others and be able to come to a better understanding of one another. They can also be used as a teacher or instructor communicates with learners. As counselors begin their training in the field, I would strongly suggest that they study the methods that Carl Rogers and other humanist psychotherapists utilized as a means to understand how a therapeutic relationship can help a person change. Think about it, how often do we need an understanding ear to work through our own problems? Being skilled in these methods allows that to happen and can often lead to a person discovering the answer to their own questions. Thus, the client is left empowered and accountable to themselves for their own change and growth. The counselor then becomes a willing observer and partaker in their process, though they do not provide the answers, which strengthens the counseling relationships and maintains ethical boundaries. When I began as a counselor, I remember being overwhelmed with how many clients who wanted the "answer" to their problem. Can you imagine how much knowledge one would need, as well as how much responsibility one would have if they truly did have all of the answers? Also, can you imagine the liability and accountability one would have if their answers are not "correct" for the client? Therefore, a person who can competency use basic counseling skills can provide a means to help their client/learner find their own answers. See you later. Dr Jamison Law

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