Skills in Negotiation and Counselling

1 January 2017

Counselling is considered a learning process, especially for the client. An effective counsellor displays affirmation and nurturing behaviours whilst less effective counsellors use the ‘watch and manage’, ‘belittle and blame’ and ‘ignore and neglect’ behaviours (Najavits & Strupp, 1994). The role play that was undertaken was Michael the VCE student, whereby Karen Tran is the observer, Christian Brett is the Client and Sarah Boubis is the counsellor. A counselling session was undertaken where the client Michael a student in his final year of VCE is struggling to make an important decision for his future.

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Michael is a high achiever and his parents have supported him immensely in his studies and strongly encourage him to pursue math and science subject to achieve a high ENTER so he can follow his father’s professional footsteps in to Law and Medicine. Although Michael is very appreciative of his parent’s time and energy into his education he is torn between two decisions of either travelling after high school or going straight to university. His mother supports travel and Michael is more open in regards to that subject.

However both parents are concerned and wish their son to aspire to a further education and see it as far more beneficial at this stage in his life. Michael approaches a counsellor about the pressures he is experiencing and wishes to seek guidance and prompt him with a decision. Each of the counselling processes had been met as required, thus reported on the following: Preparation: Counsellor was reminded of the expectations, agendas, feelings and ethics towards counselling. The Meeting: Preamble: The Counsellor greets the client and they both introduce themselves.

The Counsellor asks the client to sit down and provides the client with the boundaries by saying ,‘we have approximately 45 minutes to conduct this session, everything that is said in this session is strictly confidential and that as my role of a counsellor is to only guide the client and prompt them with their own solution to the problem’. Getting started: The client expresses their point of concern and appears to be quite distressed. The counsellor had put them at ease by using phrases such as ‘please tell me more ‘and ‘please share with me’.

Active Listening: The Counsellor was able to provide minimal responses such as ‘I see’, and ‘please tell me more’. Once the client had revealed the problem the counsellor could then summarise. Problem Identification and clarifying: The counsellor was able to demonstrate active listening and asking questions such as ‘what are both of your parents views on this topic, do they wish you to study or to travel and what are their reasons for such a decision? ’. The client was then able to open up about the pressures that are exerting from his parents.

Facilitating Attitude change: The counsellor states ‘Do you believe that it would be fair to dismiss all the time and energy your parents have put in for you to excel? ’ The client then expresses his frustration by saying he doesn’t understand’ and referring to his parents as ‘stubborn ‘. However he does come to the realisation that his parents have done a lot for him. The counsellor then assists in attitude change by stating ‘let’s focus on the situation at hand here and not get distracted by your emotions’.

Exploring Options and Facilitating Action: The counsellor asks the client ‘what option would satisfy both you and your parents’? The client had then represented the idea of taking one year off to travel and see the world and then to return to his further studies. ’ The client was then confident to say that ‘I will have a chat with them and show that I am mature enough and I shall return to pursue further education and that I am a high achiever’. The client has come to his own solution. Termination: The Counsellor was able to sum up the clients decision and way of action and concludes the session.

At the beginning of the session the counsellor made me feel comfortable, relaxed and gained my trust but also made it clear that she was there to guide me to a solution and not give me the answer to my problem. As the counsellor began to ask questions she opened me up about my situation and the reasons why I was under so much stress and pressure. The counsellors’ questions made me look more in depth as to how my parents would feel towards my decision of travel instead of studying and how this would affect me.

As the session progressed, it did begin to make me look at my current circumstances from a different perspective. However it began to make me believe the counsellor agreed with my parents, this made me question her emotional stance towards my current problem resulting in me questioning the counsellor with “what she would do? And what her parents would think? ” I was quickly reminded that she was the counsellor. This reinsured me that she was not biased and she was only guiding me, however I believe this affected our session majorly as it made me see I could trust this person.

Once a good relationship had been built the session flowed a lot easily allowing for me to come to a sensible and rational decision with the guidance of the counsellor. The Counsellor (Sarah E. Boubis): As the counsellor it was important to initiate the counsellor mindset and in order to cater for the needs of the client there is a great deal of ethical background theory and practice that aims to develop the objective ‘eye’ (Corey, 2001).

With reference to the case of Michael there was a need for me to draw the line as the client had been asking personal questions which were unproductive. Drawing the line is essential in order to avoid emotional burnout, misjudgement and unproductive use of power (Corey, 2001, pg 34). Michael the VCE student has a sense of work/ study related stress as he not only has the stress from higher demanding subjects and work load but the pressure from both of his parents, in particular his father to perform well and get into Medicine at University.

The workplace and school are very stressful environments (Andrews, G, Crino R, Hunt, C, Lampe, L & Page, A, 1996). I believe that I was successful in creating a relaxed, confidential environment which allowed the client to open up about the problem. There was a clear set of boundaries which were mentioned to the client before commencement of the session and this created a sense of respect. I also showed empathy towards the client’s feelings of stress and tried to lead the client into grasping a better understanding of the actual problem.

Competency was achieved in active listening and could summarise the client’s issue. Identifying the problem was achieved through the motion of active listening and summarising the actual problem. Once the client had a clear eye on the problem at hand they were then able to change their perspective and attitude towards the issue. Although the client had been emotional and become distracted and asked the counsellor personal questions, the counsellor could successfully draw the line and remind the client of their respective roles.

Encouraging the client to arrive at a rational decision without providing a solution was challenging at first and more questions were needed in order to open up the clients mind and prompt them with a solution. Furthermore I believe the session was successful and the client had arrived at a solution to the problem out of the 45 minutes. The Observer (Karen Tran): The aim of the observer’s role was to evaluate the session that occurred between the counsellor and the client and determine whether or not it was successful.

In this particular session, the counsellor and the client were able to quickly build a strong relationship where Michael, the client was able to open up and share his problems with someone whom he felt like was an authoritative figure. It was clear that Michael’s initial intentions of this session was to receive answers and recommendations as to what the counsellor believed was best for him, however, the counsellor was able to effectively invite Michael to talk, express what he wanted and inevitably arrive at his own solution.

The counsellor was very professional as she applied the proper skills that showed her engagement which enabled Michael to feel comfortable such as body language, eye contact, facial expressions etc. The counsellor enabled Michael to ‘take time and allow pausing before reflecting’ (Gerald, 2003). This pause allows Michael time to reflect upon the conversation that has just been discussed and have a clear perspective of what he really wants and soak in all the new information gathered in the counselling session.

Overall, this is a successful meeting between Michael and the School Counsellor as she was able to guide him in the right direction and allowed him to take control of his own situation and come to his own solution.  When approaching the counsellor the client felt a sense of respect as the counsellor was able to clearly identify the boundaries. The client felt comfortable and was able to share his problem openly. Although there were times where the client expressed levels of emotion and became distracted the counsellor was able to take control.

As the role of the counsellor the aim was to build or recognise the problem and to establish suitable guidance for the client to arrive at his own solution by still keeping a professional stance on the situation and not become unethical. As the observer, an assessment must be made on how successful the role of the counsellor was in facilitating the clients’ resolution to the problem at hand. The counsellor in this session was able to build a strong connection and understanding relationship with the client and thus, gain a sense of trust, enabling him to bond and communicate efficiently.

Furthermore the counselling session reported to be a success as the client had achieved a solution to his problem which wouldn’t cause confrontation.

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