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Stages of the Helping/Counseling Process

Discuss about the Sociology and Social Science for the Helping/Counseling Process.

The counselling process can be defined as a planned and structured dialogue that takes place between the client and the counsellor. Trained and professional experts whose work is to help the individuals in identifying the sources of difficulty or the issues concerning that person carry out the process of counselling. In the opinion of Lane, (2016), a cooperative process includes dealing with the stressful or emotional feelings of the client. For a successful counselling, confidentiality is necessary. However, the process is different from psychotherapy as counselling is a helping approach that lays its focus on the emotion and intellectual feelings of the clients.

In this study, the process of counselling is discussed along with the communication skills at each stage of the process. The barriers to communication are highlighted to understand the influence of the barriers in the process. Moreover, the measures that help to address the issues are also studied in this particular project.

The counsellors follow the three-stage counselling approach considers the three stages of the process to be very vital. The three stages of the counselling process are building the relationship, exploring and identifying the concerns of the client and offering suggestions and guidance to the clients (DeKay, 2012). In the very first stage of the counselling process, the relationship between the client and the counsellor is established. In this stage, the counsellor introduces himself to the client in order to make the client feel free and comfortable. It is important for the counsellor to make conversation with the client so that the individual obtains some information about the background and the perspective of the counsellor.

With the healthy establishment of the relationship between the client and the counsellor, the second stage of the counselling process begins. In the second stage, the client starts to open up and reveals the issues faced by them in front of the counsellor. In order to understand the areas of concern of the individuals, the counsellor asks a number of questions. After the client is able to make the counsellor understand the issues and the concern, the third stage of the process begins. The counsellor tries to analyse the issues of the clients based on which, advice and suggestions are offered to the individual. Accordingto Ross& Nilsen, (2013), the counselling process is effective only when the process is supported from both the sides. The effectiveness of the process not only depends upon the ability of the counsellor but also on the trust of the clients in following the recommendation of the counsellor. Thus, it can be stated that the stage one is a crucial stage as the effectiveness of the whole process depends upon the strength of the relationship that has been established (Myers, 2015).

Since the process of counselling involves conversation between the client and the counsellor, there is a need for effective communication skill in order to facilitate the changes taking place in the process. In order to achieve effective counselling, it is necessary to have certain basic communication skills. The basic communication skills include attending, listening, basic empathy, questioning, summarising and integrating the communication skills (Geldard, Geldard & Foo, 2013).

The Communication Skills at each Stage of the Helping/Counseling Process

Attending: The attending skills of the counsellor refer to the way in which the counsellor is able to be with the clients both physically as well as psychologically. This helps the clients to feel the counsellor is with them and thereby the clients are able to share their issues in a better manner. The SOLER is used to express the attitudes, respect and the genuineness towards the client. SOLER indicates squarely facing the clients, open posture, leaning towards the client, eye contacts and relaxing with the clients (Ahmed, 2016).

Listening:The messages can either be delivered verbally or nonverbally. Active listening includes four other skills such as listening and understanding the verbal message of the clients. Listening, analysing and then interpreting the nonverbal messages of the client, listening to the client and understanding them in context and listening with empathy to the client (McMahon& Palmer, 2014).

Basic empathy: The basic empathy is a skill that helps the counsellor to understand the concerns in such a way that the effective outcome is reached. The counsellor temporarily forgets about their personal frame of reference and visualises the client’s situation from the viewpoint of the client (Cooper& Dryden, 2015). 

Questioning: Probing is the process of incorporating statements and questions that help the client to explore more relevant issues experienced by the clients in their daily lives.  The probing or questioning helps to encourage reluctant clients to share their individual stories and remain focused towards the issues that are more important. Furthermore, this helps the client to take a step forward towards the helping process.

Summarising: It is useful for the counsellors to summarise everything that happened and discussed in the session in order to remain focused. The summarization is a part of the communicating skill that helps the counsellor to support the client in moving forward at times when the client is stuck (Dykes et al., 2014).

Integrating communication skills: In the counselling process, it is important to integrate the communicating skills in a natural way. In order to help the clients to achieve a grip of the problems the skilled and experienced counsellors often attends and listens carefully and uses a combination of empathy and probes. The type of client, their needs and the problems or situation of the clients determines the type of the communication skills used by the counsellor (Nelson-Jones, 2015).

There are many barriers to communication and they occur in the various stages of the process. The barriers lead to the occurrence of distortion, risk, wasting of money and time and further leading to confusion and misunderstanding. In order to make the communication better, the barriers are to be overcome to convey a clear concise message.

The common barriers to effective communication in the counselling process are use of jargons that is using overcomplicated, unfamiliar and technical terms while conversing with the clients or the counsellor. There are also emotional barriers and taboos since individuals find it difficult to express their emotions to someone unknown. In addition to that, lack of attention, interest or irrelevance to the receiver is also disadvantageous. Differences in the languages and problems in understanding the unfamiliar accent cause barriers in the communication in the counselling process (Kwong, 2014). These barriers reduce the effectiveness of the process as either the counsellor is unable to identify the areas of concern properly or the client is unable to follow the recommendations.

Identify Barriers to Communication that Impact the Helping Process

As there are a number of barriers in the process of counselling, it needs to be removed in order to achieve effective results. In order to minimise or remove the hindrances in the communication, it is important to clarify the ideas between the client and counsellor before communication. The objectives of the session need to be determined and things are to be arranged accordingly. Furthermore, Silverman, Kurtz& Draper, (2016) added that the communication needs to be done according to the need of the client. This will help to understand the environment of the client as well. Both the counsellor and the clients should be aware of the language, the tone and the content of the message. The tone of the conversation should not hurt the feelings of the individual in the conversation. Use of excessive information needs to be avoided in order to keep the conversation simple yet effective.

In order to carry out effective conversation, it is necessary to carry out conversation that helps the client to solve the issues faced by the client. The needs and the interest of the clients are to be given highest priority by the counsellor so that the communication becomes more effective. The counsellor further needs to ensure that the clients give proper feedback as it will help to understand and analyse the problems in a better manner. The effectiveness of the communication can be further increased by keeping a constant check on the weakness of the communicating system. This can be done by focusing on the communication style. The counsellor needs to understand the nature of the client and accordingly use formal or informal communication.

Conclusion

From the above project, it can be stated that the counselling process is a process that is completely based on the communication. The effective communication is the main factor that ensures the success of the process. The three stages approach supports the counsellor to carry out the activity in a structured and systematic manner. The communicating skills and its influences further play a crucial part in the process of making the counselling session worthy. However, since there are barriers to communication that are capable of degrading the quality of the process, it is important to adopt appropriate strategies that help to overcome the issues in communication and offer the best possible outcomes for the clients to address their issues. 

References

Ahmed, S. (2016). Counselling Skills and Social Work Practice.

Cooper, M., & Dryden, W. (Eds.). (2015). The Handbook of Pluralistic Counselling and Psychotherapy. SAGE.

DeKay, S. H. (2012). Interpersonal Communication in the Workplace: A Largely Unexplored Region. Business Communication Quarterly, 75(4), 449-452.

Dykes, F. B., Kopp, B., Postings, T., & Crouch, A. (2014). Counselling Skills and Studies. SAGE.

Geldard, K., Geldard, D., & Foo, R. Y. (2013). Counselling children: A practical introduction. Sage.

Kwong, W. M. (2014). Counselling as' Conversational Art': Development of a language-based Approach to Counselling and Laboratory Training of Counselling Skills.

Lane, S. D. (2016). Interpersonal communication: Competence and contexts. Routledge.

McMahon, G., & Palmer, S. (2014). Handbook of counselling. Routledge.

Myers, B. (2015). Counselling in practice: Counselling patients on antipsychotic medicines. Australian Pharmacist, 34(6), 42.

Nelson-Jones, R. (2015). Basic counselling skills: a helper's manual. Sage.

Ross, C. S., & Nilsen, K. (2013). Communicating professionally: A how-to-do-it manual for librarians. American Library Association.

Silverman, J., Kurtz, S., & Draper, J. (2016). Skills for communicating with patients. CRC Press.

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