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Reeves - Therapist Competencies and Counselling Skills

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A n I n t ro d u ct I o n to c o u n s e l l I n g A n d P syc h ot h e r A Py 2 Chapter Overview • While there are a number of counselling and psychotherapy theories that differ in terms of how therapeutic change is viewed, there are some core skills that are typically evident in most therapy relationships. • Such skills facilitate the development of the relationship in the early stages, as well as enabling the client to consider, in depth, issues that have brought them to therapy. • Different approaches place slightly different emphases on the ways in which the skills are implemented (concerning their frequency, for example), but all approaches integrate these skills into their core theoretical model. • This chapter will consider what is meant by therapist competence, including personal and professional qualities, as well as considering the use of competency frameworks in counselling and psychotherapy. • Counselling skills will be considered in more detail, offering examples of them 'in action', while also placing them in the context of the therapeutic process. Chapter videos • The Aims of Counselling Skills • Asking Open-Ended Questions • Reflecting, Paraphrasing, Summarising • An Empathic Stance • Active Listening • Being Non-Judgmental • Bringing Things into the Here and Now • Expressing Warmth and Care • Minimal Encouragers • Using Symbols and Metaphors INTRODUCTION We have discussed in previous sections of this chapter how specific models of therapy adopt preferred interventions and skills. It would be very unusual, for example, to find a psychodynamic practitioner (where the emphasis is on therapist 'abstinence' to facilitate the transferential process) to set homework, whereas a cognitive-behavioural practitioner might. Likewise, interpreting a client's thoughts, comments or behaviour, as would happen in psychodynamic therapy, is very unlikely to take place in person-centred therapy (where the emphasis is on the client's frame of reference and understanding, not the therapist's). It is probably fair to say therefore, there are particular tools or approaches that are quite model-specific and not easily transferable because of philosophical incompatibilities. There are, however, a number of micro-skills that cross the divisions of modality that are used by most therapists, most of the time. Each approach might place a different emphasis on particular skills (e.g. person-centred counsellors are less likely to use questioning than a cognitive-behavioural or psychodynamic counsellor), but the use of questions would not be prohibited by the model (despite the persistent myth that person-centred counsellors are 'not allowed' to use questions). Before we begin to consider some of these skills, however, we need to reflect further on what it is that makes an effective counsellor or psychotherapist.

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