Meaning of Employee Counselling Process
The counselling process is a planned, structured dialogue between a counsellor and a client. It is a cooperative process in which a trained professional helps a person called the client to identify sources of difficulties or concerns that he or she is experiencing.
Together they develop ways to deal with and overcome these problems so that person has new skills and increased understanding of themselves and others. The fact that counselling is described as a process, there is the implicit meaning of a progressive movement toward an ultimate conclusion.
Hackney and Cormier (1987) describes the counselling process as a series of steps through which the counsellor and client move as discussed below:
Step 1: Relationship Building
The first step involves building a relationship and focuses on engaging clients to explore issue that directly affect them. The first interview is important because the client is reading the verbal and nonverbal messages and make inferences about the counsellor and the counselling situation.
Step 2: Problem Assessment
While the counsellor and the client are in the process of establishing a relationship, a second process is taking place, i.e. problem assessment. This step involves the collection and classification of information about the client’s life situation and reasons for seeking counselling
Step 3: Goal Setting
Setting goals is very important to the success of counselling. It involves making a commitment to a set of conditions, to a course of action or an outcome.
Step 4: Counselling Intervention
There are different points of view concerning what a good counsellor should do with clients depending on the theoretical positions that the cousellor subscribes to. The counsellor can apply any theoretical approaches and each approach suggests different types of intervention. For example, the person-centred approach suggests that the counsellor gets involved rather than intervenes by placing emphasis on the relationship. The behavioural approach attempts to initiate activities that help clients alter their behaviour.
Step 5: Evaluation, Termination or Referral
For the beginning counsellor, it is difficult to think of terminating the couselling process, as they are more concerned with beginning the counselling process. However, all counselling aims towards successful termination. Terminating the counselling process will have to be conducted with sensitivity with the client knowing that it will have to end.
Stages in Counselling Process
The counselling process has three main stages. These are: Exploration Stage; Understanding Stage (middle stage); and Action Stage.
In the exploration stage,
- the counsellor addresses the client’s questions, for example what are my (client’s) problems, issues, concerns and undeveloped opportunities;
- helps the client clarify their current difficulties, problems, issues, concerns and undeveloped opportunities; and
- establishes a relationship with client so that they feel safe enough to explore the issues that they face by identifying and clarifying problem situations, unused opportunities and the key issues calling for change.
To achieve this, the counsellor should:
- Concentrate on the clients agenda;
- Not impose one’s own agenda or try to satisfy one’s own curiosity;
- Stay with the client; and
- Help the client be specific and to focus on core concern.
In the Understanding or middle stage the counsellor seeks to:
- Promote understanding and insights into new perspectives of the problem at hand;
- The client’s questions are addressed to, for example finding out “what do they (client) need or want in place of what they have”;
- The client is assisted to look at the preferred scenario;
- The counsellor reaches a greater depth of understanding with client which helps the client determine what he/she needs or wants; and
- The counsellor helps client determine what he/she needs and wants, provides accurate empathy, works with the here and now (i.e. current situation) , promotes self-disclosure, helps set appropriate goals and is genuine in support.
- The client must feel supported yet challenged to face the difficulties ahead and the counsellor helps the client to get an idea of which direction they should to go.
The Action Stage
The aim of action stage is for the client to develop a realistic set of choices and Make decisions and formulate an action plan. The counsellor assists the client implement the chosen plan and uses different decision making strategies and problem solving techniques.
It is important to understand that the counselling process is not a linear one, that is, it does not necessarily follow these stages in order. The counsellor needs to be aware of which stage the client is at, and when it is appropriate to facilitate moving the client to the next stage. This decision is the client’s; the counsellor offers guidance but does not make the decisions.