I considered a number of different titles for this particular Blog initially. However, having decided it wasn’t really to do with “Self Assessment” (ie Tax Returns) or “More Than” (ie Insurance), I settled on “Inside Counselling”.
Except of course, counselling is absolutely “more than” listening to another person talk about themselves and their life……and even more absolutely about self assessment in terms of personal awareness, insight, development and understanding!
How many times have you heard someone comment “Nice job – I wish I could get paid for just sitting in a chair listening to someone else.”
The problem with counselling is that if you only sit in a chair listening to someone else, you really aren’t engaging with the real work of counselling.
When you get inside counselling, it is so much more than that.
So, what’s it really all about?
Well, obviously, sitting in a chair listening to someone is an essential and important part of the job, and it takes great skill to focus entirely on the other person and their story for an hour at a time. Listening with a focus and purpose. Using skills of reflection and working with empathy, congruence and unconditional positive regard.
But it is also more than that, in that there has to be a continuing process of self assessment in terms of awareness, parallel process, boundaries, ethics, transference, collusion, sabotage, projection, emotional responses etc etc.
How well are you able to focus entirely on the other person and what they are saying for one whole hour without fidgeting or losing track of their words or story, ignoring the shopping list and the items on your “to do” list, putting aside your own experiences, not sharing personal information, not forgetting the names of their children or what happened when, and managing your own emotions in response to your own experience or the fact that your buttons are being pressed in a big way?
How well are you able to engage in a transparent sharing of your own thoughts and process in relation to the work with a client? How much are you able to take constructive criticism, guidance, supervision of all aspects your clinical work and the points where your personal life and experiences impact on that process?
I borrowed the title of this Blog from a book* I bought very early on in my training. Not on any course book list that I have experienced, first published over 20 years ago now, but certainly not out of date.
If you still think counselling is all about sitting in a chair listening to people, then it’s time to think again.
If you want to explore more than simply listening, sign up for an introductory online course and engage with a much deeper process for yourself.
If you really want to get inside counselling, and are prepared for a challenging read, then get the book…
*Inside Counselling by Anthony Crouch. Sage Publications 1997