060 – Self-Care for Counsellors – Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development – Comparing and Contrasting Humanistic Models
In episode 60 of the Counselling Tutor Podcast, Ken Kelly and Rory Lees-Oakes discuss how to look after yourself as a counsellor, especially when you are experiencing difficult events in your own life. ‘Theory with Rory’ presents the work of Jean Piaget. Last, the presenters explain how to compare and contrast humanistic models of counselling.
Self-Care for Counsellors (starts at 2.25 mins)
What do you do to cope as a counselling student when, say, you have recently experienced a close family bereavement? It is already hard to juggle studying, working and family responsibilities. When a major event in your personal life comes along too, it’s more important than ever time to ensure you are taking proper care of yourself.
Ken uses the analogy of the oxygen mask on an aeroplane: you must fit your own before you are in a fit state to look after others. It is so important to be willing to speak about your personal experiences – doing so is a sign of strength, not weakness. For example, you may wish to share your feelings with a good friend, peers on your course and/or your personal counsellor. If you are in practice, it is vital too to tell your supervisor.
Although you may be reluctant to take a break from counselling and/or your studies for fear of getting behind, sometimes recognising your own need to rest and taking action on this can actually help you be more effective and efficient in the long term.
Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development (starts at 11.15)
Rory describes the theory of cognitive development developed by Jean Piaget, a Swiss psychologist with an early interest in zoology. He observed his own children’s development as a way of informing his work on how the human brain works, and how this influences what we can do.
The Ethical Framework for the Counselling Professions of the British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy (2015: 8) states: ‘Careful consideration will be given to working with children and young people that … demonstrates knowledge and skills about ways of working that are appropriate to the young person’s maturity and understanding.’
It is therefore really important for counsellors and psychotherapists who will be working with children and young people to have a sound understanding of the developmental stages of the human brain.
Rory goes through the key developmental stages of a baby/child, explaining typical abilities at each stage and how we can understand these through the lens of brain development. He has prepared a detailed handout describing these stages, which you can download here; this is also available in the Handouts Vault and Counselling Study Resource (CSR). The CSR also includes a lecture on working with bereaved children; Rory has made available one slide from this here, with a challenge for podcast listeners – which of Piaget’s developmental stages do you think is described in this slide? Do visit the Counselling Tutor Facebook group to let us know what you reckon!
Comparing and Contrasting Humanistic Models (starts at 28.00 mins)
‘Compare and contrast’ is a regular instruction in counselling assignments, but what does it actually mean? Above all, don’t overcomplicate it: it is simply asking you to describe the similarities (‘compare’) and differences (‘contrast’) between two or more things.
When the things that you must compare and contrast are ‘humanistic models’, however, this can seem confusing. While some people erroneously believe that the person-centred approach is synonymous with a humanistic approach, in fact various other modalities are today humanistic too.
For example, modern-day (relational) transactional analysis (TA) and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) are also humanistic, in that they treat the client as human, i.e. not classifying them according to a label or diagnosis. This, therefore, is the basis of the similarity between these approaches. The contrast lies in the fact that while person-centred counselling does not use techniques (since Carl Rogers asserts that six necessary conditions are sufficient to bring about therapeutic personality change), TA and CBT do. Their techniques involve teaching clients models to apply in their lives.