People who experience troubles can receive help for their problems in both formal and informal ways. An informal helping relationship can be as simple as a chat with a friend while offering advice and support. The counselling approach differs considerably form formal counselling which this essay will discuss. An informal helping relationship may involve counselling skills such as displaying good eye contact and body language, listening, summarising and paraphrasing but this does not in any way mean they are a trained counsellor.
Formal counselling will involve the counsellor, who is formally trained, and the client where the sole purpose of the meeting is counselling. The counsellor and client should meet in a private place and the meetings should be scheduled. There should be a contract in place and a strict understanding of privacy and guaranteed confidentiality although there are limits to this. Formal and informal helping relationships both require certain qualities and skills. The skills as mentioned before include good, open body language and eye contact, tone of voice is also important.
During the triad exercise I was very aware of my body language and responses and initially did not relax. At times I was more focused on my own behaviour rather than the speaker. I have now experienced three triad sessions and feel my skills have improved and I do feel slightly more relaxed and confident. I am also finding it easier to pick up on feeling words and key phrases allowing me to develop my responding skills. Qualities are perhaps what we would expect from a helping relationship to enable us to feel listened to and are not as easy to learn as skills.
The main qualities to focus on are empathy, which is the ability to identify with the person and enter into their thoughts and feelings. Genuineness is where we present ourselves in an open and relaxed way and acceptance which refers to being non judgemental and showing respect to others beliefs although we all have limits to accepting no matter how open minded we are. I am still not completely relaxed in the triads and do tend to think ahead about what my response should be therefore I perhaps do not display the quality of being genuine.
The course has allowed me to take part in self awareness raising exercises including a guided fantasy. During the exercise I focused on feelings as opposed to objects. I was able to easily decide which emotion to keep and which to let go. These particular emotions did not come as a surprise to me but my thoughts were clearer after this and I felt somewhat relaxed. The Johari Window demonstrates how we can become free and open if we open ourselves to others. The feedback I received during this exercise was accurate meaning the impression I give to others is true.
When filling out the self-disclosure form I discovered that I was more closed with the person I was closest too. I think this could be because I am aware that I do not want to disappoint this person and as a result I am conscious of what I disclose. Self awareness is important in counselling because as a listener we encourage the speaker to explore their own self and so we must have that ability too. The course has allowed me to learn more about myself and the feedback I have received has been helpful enabling me to focus on areas such as my facial expressions which I was not aware of.
The positive feedback showed me as an approachable, warm person which I was very pleased with. I did surprise myself during the first triad experience as I was more open than I had imagined I would be therefore I think my confidence is improving also. Formal counselling should involve a contract and certainly a confidential setting which is not necessarily required in an informal helping relationship. At the beginning of a session the professional counsellor should make clear the working agreement to the client where confidentiality will be explained.
It is important for the client to understand that there are limits to this and any concern over their safety or the safety of others may be disclosed. This is in keeping with the codes of practice which are in place to ensure the safety of the client and counsellor. My workplace follows the health and social care code of practice therefore I am aware of the importance in having these guidelines in place. A client is more inclined to feel free to talk when they know that what they say will not be disclosed and this should encourage a safe feeling for them.
At the start of the course a working agreement was decided and agreed by the class. This agreement stated that we should respect and be respected, have the right to be supported, the right to have fun and most importantly confidentiality. This allowed the class to feel safe to disclose information that may be of a personal nature. I think that this agreement has been followed and I do feel safer knowing it is in place especially during the triad exercises. Many helping relationships occur in veryday life and this course has allowed me to understand the difference between formal counselling and a counselling approach.
I think I have become more self aware and realise that I am slightly guarded, especially with certain people in my life. The triad exercises made me quite anxious initially but feel as I gain more experience I am becoming more comfortable during the sessions. The feedback I have received has been helpful and I do try to improve on weak areas and I hope that I give the same back to others. Overall I have thoroughly enjoyed the course so far and I am happy with my progress.