How counselling works

Graph/ My counsellor explained (would explain) how counselling works

Graph/ I understand (To understand) how counselling works

19 respondents to the surveys mentioned that they are trained or training in counselling, psychotherapy or psychology, and some can be expected to understand the counselling process.   The responses to the questions in this section are varied though it is clear that for over half of each group who received counselling their counsellor explained something of the counselling process. Murgatroyd (1996, p.42) remarks:

Those seeking help often have unrealistic expectations of what a helper can do and are frequently unhappy with the early phase of helping. To counteract this tendency, helpers need to ensure that their contracting with those they are helping is explicit enough to cover the practical issues… and is also offering some guidance about the style of helping that is being offered.

Joyce and Piper (1998) remark:

Overly optimistic or idealized expectations thus may not be  a frequent occurrence, but they should definitely be addressed if they are identified early in the treatment process. Ensuring that the patient has reasonable expectancies about the treatment experience will militate against disappointment.

55 respondents to the surveys for those who received counselling do not know what type of counselling they received. For some respondents it appears there may have been a lack of clarity about the type of service that their counsellor was offering, and it seems that sometimes counsellors were not very clear themselves. Respondents wrote:

>I was extremely disappointed in my counseling experience. She was nice, and friendly, but I never felt we got anywhere in all of the time I saw her. She never helped me focus, it was like talking to an uncomfortable accquaintance that never had anything to say, so I never got anywhere. I have gotten much more out of speaking to a close friend for a few hours than I ever did through the sessions with this counselor.

>i went to counselling but i didn't get much out of it. my cousellor was very sympathetic but i did most of the talking and she didn't have much imput and didn't direct me as much as I think she could have.

>However when the counsellor came I didn't feel any rapport and felt rather awkward. She seemed to be trying to dwell on all the worst things to provoke a reaction (…) I felt more I was trying to cheer her up rather than the other way round!

>My sessions became more focussed on my young toddler and managing his behaviour than identifying my needs and addressing a course of action for myself. I decided from that time to continue managing and dealing with my own issues my own way.

>my counsellor was supposed to be good at talking with people with disabilities. in fact, she talked more abt herself and her MS than she did listening to me. after a while, it was too hard for me to go and listen to her talk abt herself. i wish i had found a better counsellor. i do agree that it can really help!

>The only thing I learned from my counsellor was that I should take up gardening since I was unable to participate in most other things. The fact that I have never liked gardening did not seem to matter. The whole thing was a waste of time and used up what little energy I had.

>I'm not sure how counseling would have been with a different counselor, but I felt that the counselor I was seeing had preconceived ideas of what I was supposed to be feeling, no matter what I said.

He did like to talk though and explain my feelings and what they should be so I just let him talk. He seemed to be getting a lot out of it.

Emmy van Deurzen (2002 p.2) remarks:

From an existential perspective awareness of basic assumptions is therefore deemed to be crucial for both practitioner and client. Clients can only engage fully with the therapeutic process if they have confidence in its principles. They cannot be expected to co-operate wholeheartedly until they have had a chance to understand what is supposed to happen and until they have made up their mind about the rightness of the procedure.

Explaining the counselling process could enable some clients to recognise the valuable skills that they use to gain insights, connect thoughts/feelings and behaviour, resolve conflicts etc. If either the client or the counsellor, do not know what they are doing or why they are doing it, this might indicate a lack of defined goals for the work, and could also mean that some achievements may remain unrecognised and unappreciated.

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