How counselling theory underpins the use of counselling skills:
Theories Underpin Skills – If the listener is knowledgeable and capable of practising a range of theories, there is the opportunity to consider and explore the needs of the speaker to determine which therapeutic model would be most effective in the helping relationship.
With CBT, for example, the approach of the listener structuring and guiding the speaker through a process of improvement may be more useful in problems relating to mental health, where the guidance is necessary for the therapy to be effective.
Then taking Person-Centred Theory as an example, it helps to inform use of the following counselling skills.
Theories Underpin Skills – The listener is Congruent when being authentic, genuine and real and letting the speaker know that they are Ok to be themselves, also without façade. This is important to engender transparency so that the listener is less likely to be seen as superior and the client is more likely to feel empowered to change themselves.
Unconditional Positive Regard is a non-judgmental acceptance of the listener which enables them to explore negative feelings honestly and to feel self acceptance. Empathic understanding is the endeavour to experience the speaker’s situation through their eyes and it is communicated through attention and caring, which helps the speaker to value themselves.
Regardless of the theoretical model being used, without a model or several models to draw upon a counsellor may be much less effective. This is because there would be no framework to guide them in the helping relationship in, for example, knowing when best to be silent, when to question and how. In other words, even with the best intentions of helping the speaker, they could do more harm than good from attempting to do so without a frame of reference and best practise, as relates back to the theories.
In conclusion, knowledge of the counselling theories and when and how to apply them goes hand-in-hand with effective use of the practical counselling skills, bringing theory into practical realisation in the helping relationship.
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