MODULE NAME : BASIC COUNSELLING SKILLS FOR SOCIAL WORKER
ASSIGNMENT BY: MRS BISSESSUR Bholaswar
STUDENT ID: 201602351
LECTURER’S NAME: Mrs Mylene Lecoq-Bamboche
Diploma in social work
Year 1/semester 2/ cohort 2
Date of submission : 31/03/2018
TABLE OF CONTENT
Assignment Question…………………………………………………………………page 3
Introduction ……………………………………………………………………………..page 4
Developing empathy skills …………………………………………………………page 5
Acceptance ; Warmth (unconditional positive regard)………………page 6
Genuieness (congruence)……………………………………………………………page 7
Conclusion ………………………………………………………………………………….page 8
References ………………………………………………………………………………….page 9
1.0 Assignment Question
Carl Rogers (1951) proposed three core of concepts, namely: empathy, congruence and unconditional positive regard. To what extent can social workers adopt these core conditions in their approach towards clients?
The three core conditions of Carl Rogers are easy attributes for the Person Centered Counsellor to use: explore and discuss. The core conditions model introduced by Carl Rogers was originally a feat by Rogers to devise an empirical formulation of an approach to therapy that was already successful and widely implemented. Rogers attempted through his model to envelop the core concepts of his unique approach to clients specifying the features of an interpersonal environment facilitating actualization and personal growth. The six conditions presented by Rogers (1957:95) provided a bold statement to alternative psychological perspectives by its claim that they were not just useful, but completely sufficient in themselves. They enabled the person-centered counsellor to form a relationship with the client that is healing, allowing the client to feel accepted and valued. According to Rogers, for productive and positive personality change to occur these conditions must be present continuously for them to be sufficient. This mode of working is dependent on the social worker’s ability to convey these qualities in terms of authentic and powerful presence (McLeod, 2003). Three concepts from the original model are the core conditions used in contemporary person-centered counselling, they include congruence, empathy and unconditional positive regard. This combination of attitudes and skills are also considered sufficient to facilitate therapeutic progress because the belief is that the relationship between social worker and client is the central element in effective therapy (Dryden and Feltham, 2004).
It is explain below how the three essential qualities needed to become a good social worker. The first part looks at Empathy, the second part Acceptance and Warmth (unconditional positive regard) and finally Genuineness (Congruence).
Carl Rogers suggests that these three basic qualities are needed for a helping relationship to be successful. He also suggests that the social worker’s skill to communicate these qualities would be sufficient in deciding if a helping relationship would have a positive outcome.
One dictionary definition explains empathy as ‘the power or state of imagining oneself to be another person and so of sharing his ideas and feelings’ ( Longman’s Dictionary ). But Carl Rogers gives a more precise definition. Empathy, according to Rogers is the ability to experience another person’s world as if it were one’s own without ever losing that ‘as if’ quality.
It is important not to confuse empathy with sympathy-there is a big difference. Sympathy is to give another person support and emotional comfort because of the pain or distress they may be experiencing. Empathy is to enter the private world of another person so as to understand that world, whether sympathy is offered or not.
What is needed to understand another person’s role as, say, a child going into care, a man going through divorce, a person in great physical pain, or a wife recently bereaved is an understanding of the general condition of being in that role. Empathy is needed for the social worker to be sensitive, moment to moment, to the changing experiences of the particular person seeking help. Empathy is precise, not general, it is to share and understand, not judging and supporting. Empathy requires you to enter the world of another person ‘as if it’ were your own so that you can understand in a better way what it is like to be that person who needs help.
This is not easy. In fact it is extremely difficult to achieve a state of complete empathy with another person; But it is important to try to one’s best ability in achieving accurate empathy. A failure to communicate empathy will make the person in need of help to think of you as not understanding what he or she is going through, or in fact not caring.
The idea that empathy is a condition or frame of mind to aim at has some practical implications for helping. First it implies that you should check your understanding of what is being said and how that you recognize its meaning for the person. This is known as ‘reflection of content’.
A second practical way of attempting to reach and communicate empathy concerns ‘reflection of feelings’. When reflecting content the aim is to check that the message the person is offering is accurately understood. But in reflection of feeling the aim is much harder. There are many phrases and adjectives that can describe feelings like ‘depressed’ (down in the mouth, sad, got the blues, miserable ) or ‘anxious’ ( nervous, shaky, panic-stricken, stressed ). Each of these phrases or adjectives has subtle different meanings, the degree of which might be very important to the person you are trying to help.
Sometimes the way a person fidgets, the tone of voice or the way the person looks can tell us as much as what the person is actually saying and in some cases more.
Developing empathy skills
Practice reflecting content with other people – friends, relatives, family. Paraphrase what they have said and check your understanding.
Improve your vocabulary of emotions, the use of poetry, films, novels and music may help you to describe what a feeling ‘feels’ like.
By undertaking these tasks and others you might devise for yourself you will gradually be able to improve the extent to which you communicate your empathy correctly with others.
ACCEPTANCE and WARMTH (unconditional positive regard)
The second essential quality is ‘unconditional positive regard’. Other words for this are acceptance or warmth.
Carl Rogers coined ‘unconditional positive regard’ and wished counsellors to ‘prize the person’ to respect people for what they are, for their uniqueness and for their individuality. He wanted counsellors to be able to communicate to a person from the outset that they accepted them, no matter who they are or what they may have done.
It is important for the counsellor to create an atmosphere within which the client can feel safe.
Carl Rogers attached such importance to this condition for change and effective helping. His argument goes something like this:
• Someone who needs help has come to you.
• For them to be helped they need to know that you understand how they think and feel.
• they also need to know that you accept them for who they are despite how you might think of what they may or may not have done. You need to respect that they have a right to choose their own way in life.
• By them knowing that you accept and understand them they will then start to open themselves to the chance of change and improvement.
• But if they feel pressurized by you to change, they may close-up and reject your help.
Acceptance is about communicating the warmth you really feel for a person in crisis. By active listening, making observations and valuing their opinions, thoughts and feelings and communicating that you truly have empathy for them will show you respect them and can help to gain acceptance as a counsellor.
Warmth is not a practical skill but is in fact a frame of mind. It is not easy to develop this frame of mind – but by showing warmth to others and developing a relationship in which both parties are there to learn from each other you can gain respect and acceptance.
To create a climate within which changes can take place warmth is really essential.
The third important quality a counsellor needs is Genuineness (congruence) or another name for it is authenticity. As with warmth this is also not easy to explain. The easiest way to think of genuineness is to regard it as open communication. To make it easier for the client to understand you, the counsellor needs to be direct and open in the way you communicate. You should not try to put yourself on a pedestal and let the client think you are the teacher and he the pupil – you do not have all the answers and solutions to their problems. You basically need to be yourself as you really feel at that time, you should also encourage the
client to communicate this way too. By being open yourself you will set an example for them and this may encourage them to stop denying, pretending, concealing their thoughts and feelings.
Though a counsellor may work at different levels of intensity, for effective help to take place genuineness needs to be present. A misunderstanding in thinking about warmth is that it involves the suppression of the thoughts and feelings of the helper. But when empathy, warmth and genuineness are there, it is a clear sign that the social worker is open to share thoughts and feelings with the client.
By the social worker having the condition of genuineness it shows an openness and willingness to share and express themselves just as much as the client and can show that the social worker has his own needs when in session. It is also important for a social worker to be spontaneous and able to express his own thoughts and feelings and not hide them.
Genuineness is not something learnt by training or reading books but is more of a way a person is. However there are ways in which you could improve the way in which you communicate your genuineness to others.
• learn to understand yourself and be able to describe yourself to yourself.
• understand your changes in mood and your strengths and weaknesses.
• read books about personal growth, and acknowledge how you think and feel when reading this type of literature.
• learn to understand your own behaviour and examine why you react sometimes in a way you did not intend to.
The purpose of the above mentioned activities can help social worker to be honest with himself and improve self-understanding. This is very important since the social worker may be asking the client he is counselling to perform the self-same tasks.
Although the three core conditions are discussed here in separate forms, it is logical to assume the three are indissoluble in practice. A counsellor cannot be empathic and accepting while be being inauthentic (Perraton Mountford, 2006). Amalgamated as one tool the counsellor should easily be able to implement the core conditions through effective counselling skills such as; listening, paraphrasing, summarizing, asking questions, reflecting, helping people clarify their thoughts encouraging them to focus on key issues. These skills should be second nature for the counsellor as will the attempt to be genuine, respectful and empathic. Although sometimes these attempts will be difficult, for the majority of clients it should not be. In this assignment we have explored the three essential qualities needed to be a good social worker and also given some examples of their usefulness. I would like to state that all of these qualities are of equal importance and are needed for a client to be able to feel truly at ease with the social worker and then and only then can a successful relationship start to be attained.
Margatroyd, Stephen: Counselling and Helping
Published by The British Psychological Society and Routledge (1994)
• Reference: Barret-Lennard, G. (1993) ‘The Phases and Focus of Empathy’.
• British Journal of Medical Psychology, 66, 3 – 14.
• Feltham, C. and Dryden, W. (2004)
• Dictionary of Counselling. Second Edition. London: Whurr Publishers Ltd.
• MacNabb, R. (2007) The Paradox of Empathy. (Online) Available; http://www.philosophynow.org/issue52/52mcnabb.htm (Dated Accessed: 13th November 2007).
• McLeod, J. (2003) An Introduction to Counselling.
• Third Edition. Berkshire: Open University Press. Nelson-Jones, R. (1997)
• Practical Counselling and Helping Skills. Fourth Edition. London:
• Cassell. Perraton Mountford, C. (2006) ‘Take Six Core Conditions’.
• Therapy Today, 17(4), 31 – 34. Rogers, C.R. (1957) ‘The Necessary and Sufficient Conditions of Therapeutic Personality Change’.
• Journal of Consulting Psychology, 21, 95 – 103. Sanders, P. (2002) First Steps in Counselling.
• Third Edition. Ross-on-Wye: PCCS Books. Andria Dawson AT42657 Page 1 12/03/2008
• Tolan (2003) offers a detailed exploration of the skills upon which this chapter is based. In addition, Tolan’s book examines the nature of psychological contact with people.
• Seden (2005) uses a process model to consider the stages of social work practice from engagement to intervention with counselling skills in mind.
• Palmer and McMahon (1997) give a social context to counselling in various settings, although does not directly include social work. However, later chapters draw upon the person-centred approach as a useful model for themes of problems, including race, bereavement, abuse, disability and health-related problems.
• McMillan (2004) provides a theoretical exploration of the principles of personcentred counselling