Styles of Counselling
February 20, 2009 by Vauna Beauvais
Counselling, these days, is holistic. This means that the person is understood as a whole.
What do Person Centred Counsellors do?
Person Centred Counsellors (of which I am one) believe in awareness of the core conditions, i.e. empathy, congruence, and unconditional positive regard. And these core conditions underpin the quality of relating between the two people, therapist and client.
What do Transactional Analysts do?
In Transactional Analysis the same things are known, but the language is different. TA therapists (of which I am, also, one) say that everyone has worth and everyuone has the capacity to think - and therefore deserve to be treated accordingly.
People who know a little about TA have probably heard of the saying, “I’m OK, You’re OK” - this is not in the sense of “I’m all right, Jack!” but rather, “I know that I am worthwhile in my own eyes and in yours, and I know that you are worthwhile in my eyes and yours”. (If the client does not yet believe either part of that, therein lies psychotherapeutic growth-potential).
Counsellors across all modalities respond to their clients at different levels
We humans are so complex and we function at a number of levels psychologically. Therapists and counsellors need to listen out for those different levels and respond to those different levels of functioning in both clients, and in themselves.
There is benefit in both the non-diresctive style and in the directive style
Person Centred therapists are known for being non-directive. What is important in this way of therapy is that clients can develop new meaning in their lives by retelling their life stories - by making narratives. Having those experiences emerge and perhaps be expressed at a metaphorical level, not only in the words, but also in the felt meaning that is shared between the two people present, is very valuable.
Valuable, also, is a therapist sometimes being directive, and confronting clients’ beliefs, or defences. Counsellors, therefore, need to make judgements and take choices about which way to respond to clients at any one time. This is related to the levels of functioning, mentioned above. The same therapist will be engaging in an empathetic way, using non-interrupting style sometimes, in response to certain levels of a client, and at other times, in response to other levels, the therapist could be making interventions and taking more risks.