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Reflections of a counselling psychologist.

“If you deliberately plan on being less than you are capable of being, then I warn you that you’ll be unhappy for the rest of your life.” –Abraham Maslow

Being aware of the characteristics of an effective counsellor will help me gauge myself and identify areas that I need to work on and areas I need to enhance as well. I must continue to learn and grow from my experiences as a counselling psychologist, in my academic, professional and personal life as well. Growth is an ongoing process

For a productive counselling process to take place counselling skills must be applied fully appropriately and effectively. It is my responsibility not only to know the counselling skills, when and how to apply them appropriately but also to be aware of my strengths and weakness and how this will affect the counselling process.

As a counselling psychologist I possess a strong set of interpersonal skills which help establish rapport quickly with clients and develop a strong working relationship. I have learned to give my clients undivided attention and be able to cultivate trust with them from the very beginning.

I have come to appreciate that unless a client feels a sense of connection, they will not be able to work well with me.  Once a rapport has been established, the client trusts me as their counsellor, and a good foundation is established for real growth and healing to begin.

Continuous search for knowledge and curiosity will benefit the counselling process and the relationship with the client. I need to be research oriented and educate myself in the various fields with regards to my profession. I continue to read books, journal articles and relevant material on a regular basis. I make a concerted effort to be aware of what is happening in the field of counselling psychology by attending workshops, conferences and enrolling in short courses that would impact knowledge and create awareness on what is happening in this field. 

Counsellors help people from all walks of life. It is important for me to display multicultural competency and adopt a multicultural worldview. As counselor I must be cognizant of any cultural values or bias that I may possess and recognize my limits of practice. In order to expand my skills, I must acknowledge my own racial, gender and cultural heritage and the effects of oppression, racism, discrimination, and stereotyping. I must also seek out additional learning opportunities to improve my understanding of different cultural, religious and racial populations.

As a professional counsellor it is mandatory to act in the best interest of my client, promoting client goals, protecting client rights, maximising good and minimizing harm. This expectation increases due to the characteristics of the relationship between me and the client. The aim therefore for to observe ethical codes and principles is to balance the power and ensure that the counsellor operates for the good of the client.

Counselling does not occur in a vacuum therefore it is important for me to acknowledge all aspects of counselling both internally and externally and how they will affect me and the client as well. Primarily my main priority and focus should be on my client.

If at any point I feel that I cannot offer the client, the professional help they require because of my personal values then I am morally obligated to refer the client to someone or somewhere else.

Through this self-awareness I am able to determine what I accept about myself, and what I desire to change. With this I can create the atmosphere for change by exploring and identifying what I need to work on. By being aware of the obstacles/personal inhibitions that hinder my progress and growth and identifying them, I will be able to handle each one on its own merit and make the necessary changes/adjustments that are needed.

Being reflective allows me to do my job to the highest standards. I am able to self-assess my working methods and apply improvements where necessary. This self-evaluation is an essential part of the role, and helps me become a better counsellor. Without reflection, I can become stagnant and loose motivation.

“Everything can be taken from a man, but the last of the human freedoms: to choose one’s attitudes in any given set of circumstances.” –Viktor Frankl

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