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Improving Counseling Skills

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Counselling makes many demands on counsellors and the process can become overwhelming. This can mean that the counsellor may miss something important in the healing process. The supervisor can provide an objective look at a client and this will help the counsellor make a positive move forward. Since counsellors are to understand how theories work in practice, a supervisor is there to help them assimilate this information.   Many issues will come up in counselling that counsellors may not expect. To set the framework for this discussion it is important to realize that when one person is in the position of power and the other person is not, there are certain situations that can occur.

One issue that is prominent is the idea of dual relationships. This situation is described by Nigro (2003) as a situation in which a counsellor and a client 'have a relationship outside the therapy hour' (p. 191). In other words, a therapist should not provide personal counselling services to their friends, family members, business associates or their clinical supervisee. This falls under the ethical code of non-malfeasance in the BACP.

According to Nigro, this issue is the "second most frequently reported ethical dilemma" (p. 191) in the counselling setting. When this happens it can be damaging to the therapeutic relationship and it can also create problems in the relationship outside the counselling session.   Boundaries are another counselling situation that comes up and when a counsellor does not set clear boundaries the client may have challenges working within a specific framework; this happens in both individual and group counselling. As an example, a BACP hearing was held against a counsellor.

Anne Gomez was accused of several violations of ethics. It was said that she used derogatory language in her group counselling session, she 'inappropriately ' criticized her staff and there were many other allegations. When it was taken before the BACP board it was found that she had violated most of the areas in the complaint but they all went back to the fact that she never set clear boundaries.  

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