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Excellence In Counselling - Gift or Skill?
Dr. Pati Beaudoin writes: The way we use our words and voice with our clients can make a person feel heard from the heart. With a counselor who uses words and voice well, clients often feel for the first time that what they think and feel are important and worthy of respect. Feeling heard in this deep way encourages the client to go deeper, to share the secrets that have felt too shameful, too embarrassing ever to share with anyone.
The deepening words and vocal tone alone -- without asking the client a question -- lead the client into deeper and deeper places. And then when the client has reached that deep, s/he often discovers secrets s/he has kept even from the self. This process leads to the client discovering strengths and talents unknown before the deepening dialogue, for frequently talents and skills are hidden under secrets.
Some people seem to have a gift for getting others to open up, but it is
actually a learned skill with a specific sequence of actions.
Like any skill, it depends on some “native” talent.
Just as singing well depends on the talent to hit the right notes
combined with training of the voice, so “gifted” counselors start with a
warm heart, a genuine interest in other people, and a sincere desire to help.
But that is not enough — in fact, that warm heart and sincere desire to
help can lead both lay counselors and professionals into counseling quicksand.
Many in the counseling profession have found themselves feeling as if
they need to change the client’s behavior, especially when feeling frustrated
with a client’s repeating self harm. Some
examples of this arise in the field of addictions, but a client does not have to
be addicted to bring up these feelings in a counselor.
Consider people (usually women) who repeatedly get into romantic
relationships with people who physically abuse them.
If you have counseled such a client, you may be familiar with the feeling
of having done wonderful work, only to have her return to the man who caused her
One of the skills of counseling is knowing how to use these feelings on
behalf of the client. Another is
knowing how to get the client to make her own decisions in her own favor and at
a deep enough level to really stick.
But it all starts with that “gifted” ability to invite the client’s
heart into your own, and that also is not really a gift, but a skill.
Choosing the right words, the right tone of voice, knowing when and how
to use your knowledge and when to hold back — even breathing in certain ways in session — all of these skills
can be taught. If you have the warm
heart, the sincere interest in people, and a real desire to help, your
counseling practice will benefit from learning both the macro and the micro
skills of counseling. Macro skills
are those that are larger processes of counseling, such as how and when to
validate, empathize, confront. Micro
skills are the smaller components of the larger skills, such as choosing just
the right word, breathing in such a way as to help the client relax, sitting in
such a way as to help the client relax, using one’s voice to invite the
client’s heart to open.
And as I write this, I realize that it can sound as if counseling is a
gimmick, a bunch of manipulations. In
someone who doesn’t truly care for the client, counseling can become gimmicky
and manipulative, for it is done in the interests of the counselor.
But an open-hearted counselor
who truly cares for the client and has the client’s best interests at heart
uses these skills to express authentic acceptance and to really help the client.
For the open-hearted counselor these skills become second nature after a
little practice, because they help so much in the counseling process.
For anyone who works in the healing professions these skills are
important, whether you are a physician, a massage therapist, a Reiki
practitioner, a nurse, or any of the many healing professions involved in Energy
Psychology. These are the
skills that comprise excellence in counseling, and if you are in the healing
professions, you may have already recognized that no matter which healing
profession you practice, counseling is part of it.
The Counseling for Non-Counselors training program is designed
specifically for people who are already practicing a healing profession that
does not traditionally include training in counseling.
Besides the skills already mentioned, the program also includes
psychological assessment, assessment of risk, how to avoid getting in over your
head, and what to do if you discover that you are already in over your head. When you finish this program, you will have new skills to use
right away, bringing you to a new level of mastery in whichever healing
profession you practice.