Client learning

The survey question for those who have had counselling was:

How true do you find the following statements about counselling?

1 = not true at all   7 = very true

The survey question for those who want counselling the question was:

How much do you want the following in counselling?

1 = not at all   7 = very much

In this section respondents are asked about what they learned and work they did in counselling or what they would want to learn.

Client Learning Graphs

Graph/ I learned (To learn) more about myself

Graph/ I worked (To work) through painful issues

Graph/ I learned (To learn) how my childhood can affect me now

Graph/ I learned to (To) explore my beliefs

Graph/ I learned to (To) explore my feelings

In the graphs above it can be seen that those wanting counselling gave very varied values to how much they want these things from counselling. 64% wanting counselling rated ‘to work through painful issues’ 5 or higher; and 61% rated ‘to explore my feelings 5 or higher. Those who received counselling rated these two items higher than others except for, ‘I learned about myself’. 49% of the M.E. group and 61% of the MS group selected 5 or higher for ‘I worked through painful issues’ showing that they had worked at depth in their counselling. 40% of the M.E. group and 44% of the MS group selected 5 or higher for ‘I learned to explore my feelings’ showing that they had practiced and learned this valuable skill in counselling. A respondent with M.E. wrote:

The valuable lessons I learned in counseling weren’t earth-shattering. Most of what helped was the realization that all of the important stuff in my life was still there. Despite CFIDS, the things that are important to me — my relationship with my husband, kids and family, and my ability to contribute something to the world — are still satisfying.

It can be seen in the graphs above that respondents with M.E. that want counselling have very varied ideas about what they want to work on and learn in counselling. It can also be seen that respondents that received counselling worked in very varied ways.

When a composite ‘Learning’ is made of the submitted values for items:

I learned about myself
I worked through painful issues
I learned to explore my beliefs
I learned to explore my feelings

And this is compared to Efficacy 2 it can be seen that there is a correlation.

Graph/ M.E. group, Learning and Efficacy2

Very few values in this chart diverge by more than 2 points. An even closer correlation appears with the same criteria applied to data from the MS group.

Graph/ MS group had counselling, Learning and Efficacy2

The implications of this could be very important to counsellors who work with clients who have M.E. or MS. The correlation between the criteria compared in these 2 graphs is much closer than that seen in the graph comparing counsellor qualities and efficacy2 as rated by respondents with M.E., repeated here:

Graph/ M.E. group, counsellor and efficacy2

Counselling research often emphasises the importance of the relationship between client and counsellor (Clarkson 2002 p.4). Mearns and Thorne (2001 p.22) observe:

Research suggests that experienced counsellors of different traditions are in broad agreement on the fact that the relationship between client and counsellor is of fundamental importance in counselling…

In the graph above, it can be seen that when respondents rated their counsellor's qualities high, they were more likely to rate the efficacy indicators high. There are possible explanations for this, for example, a client who is helped by counselling may perceive their counsellor more favourably, so that rather than the counsellor's perceived qualities affecting efficacy it could be a case of efficacy affecting how the client rated their counsellor. It is also possible that the ratings for 'learning' items are actually indicators of the quality of the relationship. These possibilities cannot be verified with the data available.

On face value it would seem that the items used in the composite ‘learning’ criteria are linked to how clients will rate the efficacy indicators. It also seems that for some clients learning about themselves and working through issues might be of equal or greater importance than how they perceive their counsellor’s qualities.

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