079 – Becoming a Counsellor
Feelings of Incompetence – Working with a Third Person in the Room – Completing Your Placement Hours
In episode 79 of the Counselling Tutor Podcast, Ken Kelly and Rory Lees-Oakes offer tips on the common issue of having feelings of incompetence in the process of becoming a counsellor.
‘Practice Matters’ discussed working with a third person in the room.
Finally, the presenters talk about completing your placement hours.
Feelings of Incompetence (starts at 2.25 mins)
Feelings of incompetence – also known as ‘the imposter syndrome’ (a term first used in 1978 by clinical psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes) – are common among trainee counsellors, in respect to both their academic work and their clinical practice.
We might feel that we are fakes, lacking any real skills and ability, and wonder when others will realise this too.
Feelings of incompetence come from how we view ourselves, and the expectations that we perceive others to have of us.
They may derive from being criticised in the past, and often involve transference.
It’s important to try to understand and tackle feelings of incompetence, because otherwise they can distract us from being fully present with the client in the here and now – and so risk tainting the counselling relationship.
It can be helpful to make use of the support offered by both your tutor and your supervisor, seeking personal therapy too if appropriate.
Above all, try to believe that you are enough. It is OK – and human – to make mistakes.
If you do say something in a session that feels wrong, then step straight in and acknowledge this, trying again and building your learning for the future.
Working with a Third Person in the Room (starts at 14.36 mins)
There are various different versions of the third person in the room – for example, an interpreter, a parent (if the client is a child) or a support worker.
A recording device is even a type of third presence in the room.
Rory refers to a research study carried out by psychotherapist Lorraine Quinn on working with interpreters in therapy.
This discusses the challenges faced by counsellors when working with a third person in the room, explaining the importance of practicing in a way that is effective, ethical and culturally appropriate within the resources that are available.
To Become a Qualified Counsellor you need to Complete Your Placement Hours (starts at 23.50 mins)
Towards the end of the process of becoming a counsellor, many students feels the pressure of trying to complete their placement hours whilst also writing final assignments, for example for the ABC external portfolio.
It can feel like a lot to get done all at the same time.
Ken and Rory offer some practical tips on how to avoid the feelings of panic:
- Make sure you fully understand and adhere to the supervision ratios required by your awarding body, so that all your placement hours are counted.
- Ensure too that you are aware of your awarding body’s rules on what counts as a client session (i.e. how long a session must be – sometimes the rules are different if you are counselling children and young people, who may need shorter sessions).
- Get your paperwork spot-on, presenting this clearly so as to avoid or explain any discrepancies.
- Check with your tutors and work with peers to check that you have understood correctly the forms that you must use to record your client and supervision sessions.
- Try not to worry if you are behind schedule to complete your hours in time – find out from your tutor how long you have after the course ends to finish.
- If you are delayed in completing your hours, don’t delay starting your external portfolio. It is much easier to do this while you are still in college with your tutor and peers, so get as much of it done as you possibly can, and then you can add your hours in as the final stage.
Last but not least, don’t forget to celebrate when your hours are all done!
And why not share this your achievement with other student counsellors in our Facebook group?