Discuss about The Stages of the Counseling Process and Communication.
Counseling is the process by which a professional provide guidance and assistance meant to resolve psychological, social and personal difficulties (Pickard & Carroll, 2015). According to McLeod (2013), the psychological therapy that the counselor provides to the client includes relationship therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and psychotherapy. The client should communicate the difficult feelings to the counselor and the counselor help the client in finding their own solutions for the problem. The essay will discuss the main stages that are involved in the counseling process which includes: relationship building, problem assessment, the creation of assessment goals, interventions for the problem, follow-up, and termination. The essay also discusses the communication skills required during counseling and includes: listening skills, questioning skills, responding skills, analytic skills, observation skills, and influential skills. The communication barriers during counseling that include being judgmental, sending solutions and lack of attendant behaviors have also been discussed in the essay.
There are five stages of counseling process which includes the following.
Establishment of a rapport with the client (Relationship building)
The counselor should initiate the counseling process by establishing a rapport with the client (Hackney & Cormier, 2013). The counselor has several tasks to undertake in order to build a relationship with the client. The task includes articulating their roles as counselor to their client. The counselor should also introduce himself/herself by full names to the client and should also address the client by their names. According to Bond (2015), an informed consent is important while establishing a relationship with the client as the client should understand the whole process of counseling and give assent to it. According to Hackney & Cormier (2013), the core conditions required for a successful relationship building includes empathetic understanding, respect, immediacy, self-disclosure, concreteness, congruence and unconditional positive regard.
Assessment and Diagnosis
Assessment and diagnosis represent the second stage of the counseling process. According to Nelson-Jones, (2013), the assessment and diagnosis stage is when the counselor gathers the information from the patient in order to understand his/her problem and reasons for undertaking the counseling. The counselor should help the client to communicate their problems rather than pronouncing for them. Hackney & Cormier (2013) assert that the problems of the client being counseled can be categorized into several divisions that include stressors which are unpleasant events that cause a person to experience distraction and distress. The second problem may be a need where the client may be lacking something that is very vital for life and hence becomes disturbed. The third problem may be life conditions which are the conditions that are out of control of the client which limit his success for happiness. The fourth problem may be dysfunctional social patterns in which the client experiences problems in relating with some people but get along well with other people.
Communication Skills that should be Integrated into Counseling Stages
The counselor should, therefore, look forward to understanding the client problem in order to set the necessary goals and interventions meant to alleviate the client problem. Hackney & Cormier (2013) argues that the cause of the client problems seeking to counsel may be relationship based, behavioral based, milieu based, emotion based and thought based. The counselor should be observant to the client in order to detect any signs of manifestation of their problems. The client manifests their problems through worries, fear, feelings, and an unsatisfactory interpersonal relationship among others.
Goals formulation is an important stage during the process of counseling. The setting of goals is vital in determining whether the counseling is working and when should be concluded. According to Bhargava & Sriram (2016), the general goals associated with counseling include a reduction in dysfunctional behaviors, reduction in emotional stress, and assistance in decision-making, development of potential and promotion of adaptation. The specific goals of counseling should be set immediately after understanding the client expectations and problems. The counselor has a role at this stage in guiding the client in setting the goals that aim towards alleviating the client distressing condition.
Intervention and Problem-solving
Intervention and problem solving is the stage where the counselor and the client initiate a solution to the client problem. The solution to the problem is related to the assessed problem by the counselor and the formulated goals. The counselor should first ask the client on the solution they have tried for their problem but it has failed. The counselor is, therefore, able to design an alternative solution to the problem. According to Jordans, Komproe, Tol, Nsereko & de Jong (2013), the counselor should relate the client problem with the intervention the client will use. The problem that is related to how the client view on the life situation (cognitively determined problem), the appropriate intervention would endeavor to bring cognitive changes to the client ((Hackney & Cormier, 2013). The intervention for behavioral changes would be used if the client has a problem that is related to how he/she affects other people. The intervention to resolve emotional crises would be used to a client that experiences emotional problems. The identification of the client problem is, therefore, important in formulating the right intervention for the client.
Termination and Follow up
The counseling process does not end immediately after providing the interventions necessary to solve the client problem. The client should have appointments with the counselor so that the counselor can be able to access whether the client is in the process of solving the problem (Manthei, 2007). The counselor should encourage the client to call if a need arises before the appointment date. The purpose of follow-up is to ensure that the counseling solves the client problem and identifying other needs for counseling before the counseling process is terminated. According to Manthei (2007), the termination of counseling should not be abrupt but procedures should be used which includes: evaluating the client readiness for termination, providing notice of termination in advance and discussing with the client on whether he/she is ready to terminate the counseling.
Barriers to Communication during Counseling
Effective Listening and Attendant Behaviors
The counselor should try to understand the client deeply at the early stages of the counseling process. Active listening is important in the entire stages of the counselling process. According to Beebe, Beebe & Redmond (2014), eye contacts, encouraging gestures and leaning forward slightly are some of the attentive body languages in communication.
Questioning and Interviewing Skills
The most effective communication skills required during the assessment and the diagnosis stage is the questioning skills. Beebe, Beebe & Redmond (2014) assert that questioning skill is important in all stages of the counselling process. Questioning skills are used to guide the conversation process and help to gather enough information from the client. Both the open-ended the question and close-ended questions are used in counseling.
The analytic skills refer to the skills necessary in collecting information, visualize it and make decisions on how the problem will be solved. According to Egbochuku (2010),the analytic skill is most important communication skills during the identification of counseling goals and intervention stage of counseling. The counselor should be able to analyze the patient problem and come up with the goals and treatment plan for the problem.
Feedback / Responding Skills
The skill is important in the entire process of counseling. Egbochuku (2010) assert that the responding skills encourage the client to explain his/her story and allow clarifications.
The observation of both the verbal and nonverbal message for the client is a vital skill in all stages of the counseling process. Beebe, Beebe & Redmond (2014) argues that the observation of body languages like tone variations and facial expression are important signs that help in understanding the client problem and coming up with the solutions.
The influential skills are important in changing the client ways of thinking and behaviors. The counselor should embrace the influential skills in order to have an impact on the client problem (Saarinen, 2015).The influential skills are mostly important during the intervention stage of the counseling process.
Barriers to Communication during Counseling
Judging is one of the barriers to communication during counseling. Egbochuku (2010) assert that the counselor should refrain from judging the client during the entire process of counseling. The counselor should not impose his/her values to the client in order to promote communication with the client. The counselor should avoid judging the client so that the client can be open to them and create a good rapport with them. The counselor can reveal his/her judgemental nature to the client through criticism and manipulation.
Sending solutions for the client
Sending solutions for the client is a barrier to communication during the helping process. The clients should be given time to explain their problem and the counselor should facilitate their decision making but not imposing the decisions on their behalf without their involvement. Egbochuku (2010) argues that the counselor should encourage communication by refraining from ordering, avoid excessive/inappropriate questioning, avoid finishing sentences for the client, avoid moralizing and threaten the client.
Lack of Attentive Behaviors
Lack of attentive behaviors is a communication barrier in helping the process. The client requires that the counselor should be attentive so that he/she can deliver his/her problems. The client would not communicate effectively if the counselor does not give hi/her attentive ear. According to Egbochuku (2010), the counselor should use the listening skills and body language like nodding of the head and smile so that the client can recognize his/her attentiveness.
Counseling is important in solving psychological, social and personal problems that most of the people experience in their lives. The processes required in counseling should include the establishment of rapport with the client, problem diagnosis, goals setting, treatment and intervention, and follow-up which is finally concluded by the termination of counseling. The counselor has a role in ensuring that he/she embraces the appropriate communication skills while dealing with the client so that he can build a rapport with the client and the client is guided on how to solve his/her problem.
Beebe, S. A., Beebe, S. J., & Redmond, M. V. (2014). Interpersonal communication: Relating to others (7th ed.). Harlow, Essex: Pearson Education
Bhargava, S., & Sriram, S. (2016). Counsellor Characteristics and the Counselling Experience. In Counselling in India (pp. 13-33). Springer Singapore.
Bond, T. (2015). Standards and ethics for counselling in action. Sage.
Egbochuku, E. (2010). Counselling Communication Skills: Its Place In The Training Programme Of A Counselling Psychologist. Edo Journal Of Counselling, 1(1). https://dx.doi.org/10.4314/ejc.v1i1.52380
Hackney, H., & Cormier, L. S. (2013). The professional counsellor: A process guide to helping (7th ed.). Boston: Pearson.
Jordans, M. J. D., Komproe, I. H., Tol, W. A., Nsereko, J., & de Jong, J. T. V. M. (2013). Treatment processes of counseling for children in South Sudan: a multiple n= 1 design. Community mental health journal, 49(3), 354-367.
Manthei, R. (2007). Clients talk about their experience of the process of counselling.Counselling Psychology Quarterly, 20(1), 1-26. https://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09515070701208359
McLeod, J. (2013). An introduction to counselling. McGraw-Hill Education (UK).
Pickard, E., & Carroll, M. (2015). Counselling Psychology. Elements of Applied P
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