Introduction Counselling Skills Essay

Assessment Of Counselling Skills Essay

This essay evaluates the counselling skills used during a 30 minute integrative counselling session with a male client aiming to combine strengths of person-centred theory, attachment theory and cognitive-behavioural therapy. It starts by offering a case formulation based on Padesky and Greenberger (1995), as well as Lazarus’ (1973) multimodal assessment template the BASIC ID (cited in Prochaska and Norcross, 2003, p.496), of a married young male client called Eric, who is suffering from anxiety and marital relationship problems triggered by unemployment and influenced by existing difficulties within the client's relationship to his mother.
The essay then outlines and critically evaluates counselling skills such as body language, silences and reflective communication skills amongst others used during Eric’s third session while highlighting areas of improvement and identifying alternative options. The essay concludes with offering and exploring possible directions for future counselling sessions.

Case formulation
Drawing on Padesky and Greenberger (1995, p.27-28), accurate diagnosis and case conceptualisation, here referred to as case formulation, are indispensable for outlining a successful treatment plan and establishing continuous treatment progress. The aim of case formulation is to outline the client’s problems in a coherent and logical manner, while providing shared guidelines for therapy, which can be as individualised as necessary depending on the client’s unique requirements (Westbrook, Kennerley and Kirk, 2011, p.63-97). Even though not all factors were addressed during this session, the case formulation used for this counselling session consists of cognitive, behavioural, emotional, environmental, socio-cultural, physiological, spiritual factors as well as facts on the client’s life experience (Padesky and Greenberger, 1995; see Appendix 1).
During his third session, Eric, a young married father, is reporting feelings of anxiety and stress caused by unemployment, which has exacerbated difficulties in his relationship to his mother and has introduced new problems to his marital relationship. While Eric had always suffered from negative responses and criticism from his mother, he had not previously experienced this from his wife, which causes him great concern over the state of his marriage, which he perceives as 'the core' of his family life. In the past, he managed to separate his feelings from his thoughts by rationalising other people's behaviour to form excuses and explanations. This time, however, experiencing many different feelings is leaving Eric confused and anxious. His case formulation according to Padesky and Greenberger (1995) can be found in Appendix 1.
Without guiding the client or posing leading questions, I attempted to structure some questions based upon Lazarus’ (1973) multimodal assessment template the BASIC ID (Prochaska and Norcross, 2003, p.496), which stands for behaviour, affect, sensation, imagery,...

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The content of the analysis will be based on the specific guidelines or questions given with the assessment information. For example, you may be asked to identify and evaluate:

  • The counsellor’s communication skills, e.g. opening a session and building rapport
  • The counsellor’s adherence to professional requirements, e.g. explaining  their position on confidentiality and record keeping to the client
  • Their application of certain techniques, e.g. the use of counselling therapies discussed in the unit you are studying

You might also be asked to reflect on areas for improvement and future development. You might also need to transcribe parts of the dialogue to give as examples. This is called giving a verbatim example. In all cases, you must use the theory from the unit you are studying as the basis of your discussion and analysis of the counsellor's skills. Each assignment has unique requirements, so always check the assignment instructions and marking criteria.

An evaluation or analysis of a counselling session is a type of essay. Therefore, if should have an introduction, a series of body paragraphs, a conclusion, and a reference list. Eaach body paragraph should explore one main idea and have a good balance of description, analysis and links to literature and theory. More information about writing essays can be found here.

Try to avoid writing in an overly emotive or subjective way. Even though you are expressing your own analysis, you must convey this information in a professional style. Here are some examples of sentences that have been rewritten more professionally.

  • The client complained that her kids were really naughty --> The client stated that her children were not well behaved.
  • Even though the counsellor seemed unsure about digging deeper, her questioning was good. --> Even though the counsellor seemed apprehensive about probing, her questionning was appropriate.

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