In Ireland we are quickly catching up with the extensive ‘talking therapy’ culture that exists stateside. We can now readily access: life coaches, psychotherapists, guidance counsellors, counselling psychologists or a general counsellor. Yes, there are various professions that come under the umbrella term of ‘Counselling’. What do they have in common? They all help clients resolve issues in a non-judgemental and productive manner within the framework of an agreed counselling contract.
Counsellors help people to explore feelings and emotions that are often related to their experiences (past and present). This allows their clients to reflect on what is happening to them and consider alternative ways of seeing, feeling and doing things. It is both the confidential and caring setting that enables the client to open up and to express their feelings; perhaps understand themselves from a different perspective. Fundamental to almost all forms of counselling is establishing trust by listening attentively and non-judgementally. The role is also likely to involve asking open questions in order to help people understand why they feel a certain way.
The role of a counsellor is to actively listen to people in need. Those seeking counselling may include individuals, couples, families or groups and the role of the counsellor is to help resolve the conflict presented to him/her. Conflict may include personal conflicts: such as coming to terms with bereavement, infidelity, dealing with anxiety attacks or social phobias perhaps. Counsellors also work with difficulties between a group of people, such as resolving difficulties in a marriage or making a team of individuals work together in a more efficient manner. Many counsellors will choose to specialise in a particular area.
Counselling will likely be tailored to meet the needs of the client, the group and the circumstances involved. The techniques used will depend on the training the counsellor has done and often their preferred way of working. Most common techniques include:
– Non-directive counselling
– Problem-solving therapy
– Cognitive and behavioural techniques
– Behavioural therapy
– Interpersonal therapy
– Psychodynamic counselling
One of the most popular techniques now being sought by clients is cognitive behaviour therapy. Recognising that our thoughts inform and influence our feelings and behaviour; this therapy focuses on cognitions and the part they play in negative feelings and inturn behaviour not conducive to good mental health or living a fulfilling and fear-free life. There is a great sense of achievement for a counsellor who assists a client once immobilised by panic attacks to regain their confidence and ability to overcome such attacks.
Yes, as a career, it is becoming increasingly popular, as there is a majority of us who have a sense of ‘I could do that’ or ‘I want to change the world’; so they look at counselling as a career destination. It isn’t always as simple as that. Like any other industry, the helping industry can be challenging, especially if you work for yourself and in an helping industry – word of mouth sometimes will make you or break you. Besides, the idea of ‘changing the world’ does not easily transfer to that cosy counselling setting as you will face people who do not want to follow your vision for change. You will meet reluctance, resistance, projection, transference; which tests the best of those in the field.
A lot of counsellors who are making a very good living out of counselling work for an agency or for themselves or sometimes both. Those who have a viable income are well established and are expert practitioners in their field. Some actually donate hours to agencies like ACCORD or Child-line. Most counsellors charge anything from 50 to 100 euros per hour.
Responsibilities are likely to differ substantially depending upon the area of practice; however, common to most will be:
– Forming a counselling/therapeutic contract with clients.
– Listening to the client’s story as presented and sometimes advising on the best course of action/care for individuals, couples, families and/or clients to resolve issues.
– Providing comprehensive and methodical analysis and notes to assist in the diagnosis or resolution of a problem.
– Challenging the perceptions, cognitions of clients that produce maladaptive behaviour – all done in an empathetic and productive manner.
– Referring clients to qualified medical professionals as and when necessary.
– Supervising discussions between parties to help them resolve a situation in the most amicable means possible. This may involve acting as a formal mediator but is unlikely to include any form of binding arbitration.
– Acting within the ethical bounds of the profession, maintaining client/ patient confidentiality and ensuring that emotional distress is minimised.
– Keeping records of discussions.
– Attending supervision
The core skills you will require to be a counsellor is an empathetic way of being and listening that is genuine, non-judgemental and respectful. You have to adhere to strict ethics when dealing with clients in a counselling relationship. It is imperative that you are able to remove yourself from the work environment and maintain a professional distance from the subject when appropriate.
Many counsellors will tell you they started working as a volunteer before they realised their wish to pursue it as their main career. You do not need a qualification to work for charities like The Samaritans for example, but expect to receive excellent training in active-listening skills. Working voluntarily is the ideal way to establish have you got all the necessary skills and patience to be a counsellor.
To become a counsellor, one has to go on their own journey to self-discovery and healing, as it is often the case that clients will evoke painful memories or issues for you, that might be overcoming unless you have dealt with them yourself in a counselling setting. Once trained as a counsellor, you will have to attend supervision on a regular basis also.
If you wish to become a professional counsellor it is advisable to only study courses that are accredited. The majority of accredited courses can be taken full time (one year) or part time (over two to three years). The courses centre on the fundamental skills needed to counsel professionally and provide you with a broad spectrum of skills and techniques to employ on a day-to-day basis.
PCI College offer an Intensive Foundation in Counselling and Psychotherapy in various locations around the country. This course is the stepping stone for those who want to prepare for a professional qualification. It also may appeal to those who are looking for personal development or those who need counselling skills in their work place. The aim of this course is to introduce you to a basic knowledge of counselling, its key skills and selected approaches to the process. In particular you will be expected to explore interpersonal communication, personal development issues and the application of theory to practice.
Learning Outcomes – Participants may expect to:
– develop an understanding and appreciation of counselling as a distinct interpersonal form.
– learn and practice key frameworks for counselling and the skills required to implement them.
– reflect on personal growth and experience of life as a primary source of your understanding of counselling.
– become familiar with some of the main issues presented in counselling and an outline of how each is treated.
PCI also offer students the opportunity to study for a BSc (Hons) in Counselling and Psychotherapy. This course is designed for qualified professional therapists who have an opportunity to use counselling skills as part of their work or simply want to broaden their qualifications. PCI College provides a BSc in Counselling and Psychotherapy, validated by Middlesex University, for those students (including Diploma graduates from other Counselling and Psychotherapy training institutes) who wish to add to their qualifications and achieve a degree.
The course is Integrative and Evidence-based in approach, and includes Humanistic, Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy, Motivational Interviewing and other styles. The course modules will cover these different theoretical approaches as well as focusing on skills training and various special issues.
CMITrun a Drug and Alcohol Counselling course. This programme is designed for people who wish to gain an awareness of drug and alcohol misuse and practice methods of counselling clients who misuse substances. The objectives of the course are to enable learners to:
– obtain a better understanding about drugs and alcohol misuse.
– obtain knowledge about the different types of drugs available and their side effects.
– obtain a better understanding why people take drugs.
– gain a better understanding about why people use Alcohol.
– find out what treatment is available in your area and how to access it.
– find out how to set up a drug or alcohol abuse treatment programme in your area.
– understand the principles of drug and alcohol misuse counselling.
This course is ideal for people considering a career in Counselling; parents, teachers and youth workers. It is ideal for those who wish to gain an introductory qualification in Drug and Alcohol Counselling and wish to study at their own pace, and in their own time.
At the end of this course, successful learners will receive a level 3 NCFE Award certificate in Drug and Alcohol Counselling. CMIT also run a Certificate in Counselling. This programme is designed for people who wish to gain an understanding of the role of a counsellor and the basic skills required to become a counsellor.
You can also enter this rewarding career area via CAO. The National Counselling and Psychotherapy Institute offer a Level 8 Honours Degree in Counselling and Psychotherapy. They also offer an ordinary degree in counselling skills and addiction studies, an ordinary degree in youth and counselling studies, along with a degree in counselling incorporating psychometric testing.
There are many ways to progress in counselling and there are also many areas that you can specialise in: bereavement, adoption, couples’ therapy, addiction or anger management. It is also possible to move into counselling psychology; however, this will require full-time study commitment and most likely a three year full-time psychology degree.
Counselling can be intense, stressful and emotionally draining. Most counsellors practising full-time will be expected to work 9-5 but you may also be asked to do shift work or work with clients and patients outside of normal office hours; especially if you work in rehabilitation or medical setting. Counsellors will normally work from an office but may have to travel extensively and work at hospitals, schools or prisons. For example, counsellors who work for the Department of Education can be called on, at all hours to travel, if a critical incident occurs at a school that requires counsellors to assist students and staff.
Counselling and attending a counsellor is no longer a taboo subject amongst the majority of us. In every town and city in Ireland, there are practicing counsellors. They exist because there is a need for the helping service they provide. Of all the career areas, it is not one to be entered to lightly; counselling is a privileged position where clients trust you with their story and their difficulties. It is often the case that a counsellor becomes the difference in someone choosing to live rather than to end life. That is without doubt – a very serious responsibility that requires amazing interpersonal and counselling skills.
To view more resources you can view the following link; www.findacourse.ie/psychology-courses-c34.html