Finding The Client’s Answers: Four Tips For Counselling Professionals
by Adrian Holmes /3 min read
At SKATTLE, we view the relationship between counsellors and clients in a unique way. Our philosophy suggests that we are all experts in our own lives, and that no-one else knows us like we do.
We believe that because of this, we already have the skills and knowledge we need to keep standing strong through adversity. However, when we are faced with hard times, we often have trouble connecting the dots and we can struggle to see those answers clearly. We believe that the role of counselling professionals is to provide clarity for their clients, by facilitating conversation in a way that helps to connect those dots.
There are various ways that counselling professionals can do this. However, there are four key techniques that our workers at SKATTLE use:
When we are faced with a problem, it can sometimes become totalizing and can create a sense of hopelessness. If we start to identify with our problem, we give it a sense of permanency that feels impossible to shift.
However, if you talk about the problem in a way that externalises it, you can view it from a more objective stance. When working with clients, be aware of the language used when discussing the issue. Change the personal pronouns used around it. Instead of saying “your anxiety”, or “your grief”, talk about “the anxiety”, “the grief”. The client is not the problem, the problem is the problem. Talk with them in a way that presents that.
It’s also important to remember that the purpose of externalising is to change the client’s personal relationship with the problem. If someone close to them has passed away, there is little that we can do to alter that. However, if we help to change their relationship with the problem, we can better assist them to create a new experience to keep standing strong.
Assess your client’s values
Problems happen for us when the things that are occurring in our lives are inconsistent with the way we wish them to be. This means that we are often deeply absorbed with the idea of things that we don’t want. We often fail to realise that inconsistency can also highlight the things that we do want, and what is important to us. While we cannot always have what we want, knowledge of what is important to us can help us to find new ways of establishing consistency.
When a client is discussing an issue that concerns them, ask them why that is or is not ok with them. If a child you are working with is acting out against their siblings, ask them if that is ok with them. Why, why not? Giving client’s clarity around their values is an important step in building new pathways.
Explore past successes
Before they have walked into your office, your client has already done something in the past to keep standing strong when they needed to. What were they doing then that worked? How were you able to do that?
Explore these successes with your client. Even if they have not faced this issue before, delving into past successes can help the client to consider the strengths they have that may be useful in their current experience.
Once your client has a solid understanding of their strengths and values, explore ways that they can utilise these to create positive actionable steps. How can they use their strengths to align them with their values? Will they need resources to do this? What are those resources? By creating a plan with your client, they can walk away with the tools they need to keep standing strong.
Have you tried these techniques with your clients? Or do you have any others? Get in touch with us, we’d love to hear them!
* Image by Texas A&M University