011 – Note-Taking – Transactional Analysis – Seven Stages of Process in Practice 1 – Supervision
In episode 11 of the Counselling Tutor Podcast, Rory Lees-Oakes and Ken Kelly look at note-taking for counsellors. ‘Theory with Rory’ explores the ego states of transactional analysis (TA), while ‘Skills with Ken’ relates the seven stages of process to practice. Our presenters end the podcast by speaking about how best to use supervision.
Note-Taking for Counsellors
Rory and Ken describe their own methods of formal note-taking, and explain the importance of these being purely factual, and not mentioning clients by name (for example, using code numbers). The new Ethical Framework for the Counselling Professions, published by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, requires us to keep appropriate and accurate records.
It is vital to ensure notes are stored securely, and that any such information on a hard drive is safely destroyed when the computer is disposed of. Ken and Rory describe what to do if a client’s notes are requested by a coroner or court. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is responsible for the implementation of the Data Protection Act 1998; you can find out how it applies to your work on the ICO’s website.
Counsellors may also choose to keep ‘process notes’ or ‘personal jottings’ in their own journals about client process; these could in theory still be requested by a court. If a client requests that no notes are kept, record this in writing.
Rory provides an introduction to the Parent–Adult–Child ego model developed by Eric Berne. While person-centred theory sees us an organismic whole, this model sees us having three distinct ego states:
- parent – based on messages transmitted to us by our parents when we were children; this state can manifest itself as either critical or nurturing
- adult – rational and logical, and free of the history of how we were brought up, enabling independent decision-making and congruent communication
- child – based on the feelings and emotions relating to our experience of being a child; this state can take the form of adaptive child or free child.
While there are times when each of these states can be appropriate, using them inappropriately can cause difficulties in our relationships and lives. Rory provides real-life examples of how the various ego states present in our day-to-day lives.
Seven Stages of Process in Practice 1
While the seven stages of process do not represent a skill as such, it is important to be able to relate this key area of theory to your practice.
Writing about the seven stages of process, Rogers (1967, pp. 132–155) suggested that (so long as the core conditions are present) people move from a place of rigidity to one of fluidity. In this podcast, Ken discusses how people at stages 1 to 3 are likely to present to us in counselling, and how feasible it is to counsel them:
- Stage 1: It is rare to see a client at this stage: ‘The individual in this stage of fixity and remoteness of experience is not likely to come voluntarily for counselling’ (Rogers, 1961, p. 132). A stage-1 client is likely to have been sent along by someone else. It can be difficult and even unethical to counsel someone who really does not want to be there themselves.
- Stage 2: It may be possible to start working with a client at this stage, through offering the core conditions, trusting the client’s process, and so allowing the client to find their own way forward.
- Stage 3: This is quite a common stage to enter therapy; it is important to use unconditional positive regard to accept the client just as they are, supporting them to feel safe to explore their feelings. This can help the client move towards stage 4.
Next week’s podcast will look at clients in stages 4, 5 and 6.
How to Use Counselling Supervision
Rory (a qualified supervisor) and Ken a counselling supervisor in Warrington, provide tips on how to get the most out of the relationship with our supervisor, and what type of issues to take to supervision. It is important to be really comfortable with your supervisor. Supervision has three key functions, all underpinned by ethics:
- normative (i.e. managerial)
- formative (i.e. educational)
- restorative (i.e. supportive).