129 – Counselling Diverse Clients
Learning by Observing More Experienced Therapists – Data Protection
In episode 129 of the Counselling Tutor Podcast, Ken Kelly and Rory Lees-Oakes talk about counselling diverse clients. ‘Check-In with CPCAB’ then discusses how we can learn from observing others who have more experience than we do. Last, the presenters explain the importance of data protection, especially in relation to recording sessions.
Counselling Diverse Clients (starts at 1.50 mins)
In fact, every human being is unique – and so is different from any other. Some types of difference are visible, whereas many others are not.
It is therefore vital never to make assumptions about a client: instead, we must work to enter their frame of reference, using empathy to understand how it feels to be them.
Unconditional positive regard (UPR) is also vital in counselling diverse clients – not judging clients for the ways in which they are different from you and/or from what you are yourself familiar with.
While we must listen attentively to clients’ accounts of how it feels to be them, we should not rely on them to educate us about their areas of diversity. Rather, we should be prepared to do our own research and study to help us understand more about these.
Ken suggests that it can be useful to ask, at the end of contracting, whether the client would like to share any other information about themselves that they would like you to know before working together. This gives them the opportunity to share any aspects of their diversity if they feel ready to do so.
Personal development is also vital as a student (and qualified) counsellor, looking at your own background and heritage in order to identify and work on any ‘hidden agendas’ that you might not otherwise have realised was there within you.
Would you like to discuss counselling diverse clients with other people interested in the world of counselling and psychotherapy? Do come along to the Counselling Tutor Facebook page and share your views and experiences.
Check-In with CPCAB: Learning by Observing (starts at 16.10 mins)
Rory speaks to Ray van der Poel (Head of Business and Development) at CPCAB (Counselling & Psychotherapy Central Awarding Body) about learning by observing more experienced practitioners.
Ray refers to an article published in Counselling & Psychotherapy Research (the BACP’s research journal) in February 2019.
Entitled ‘“Nothing is just smooth or perfect”: What can students learn from intensively reviewing psychotherapy conducted by experienced therapists whilst being focused on emotional processes?’, it was written by Elisabeth Schanche and colleagues at the University of Bergen, Norway.
This study showed that psychotherapy students gained three main benefits from reviewing the work of experienced therapists:
- increased emotional awareness and ability to identify emotional patterns (both professionally and personally)
- greater recognition of the importance of transpersonal skills, such as empathy
- realisation that ‘even experienced therapists fumble’ – that is, more realistic and moderate expectations of the therapist role (so reducing their own anxiety about making mistakes)
Indeed, all human beings make mistakes, and doing so as the therapist can in fact send an important message to clients (especially those who may have strong conditions of worth) that it is OK to do so.
Ray and Rory agree that it can be very useful for tutors to provide demonstration sessions for students to observe and challenge.
For more information about CPCAB, please see its website. CPCAB is the UK’s only awarding body run by counsellors for counsellors.
Data Protection (starts at 29.00 mins)
Ken and Rory talk about the importance of data protection – including storage, management and sharing – and things to think about if a client asks for a copy of a recorded session.
For example, you would need to consider the format in which you would transfer a digital audio file to them (Rory suggests a disk or USB stick), and getting their written consent to and acknowledgement of receiving this (to protect you against any future claim of breaching data-protection rules if, for example, they somehow made it public).
Data-protection legislation is more complex now than it used to be, and it is important to be aware of the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which came into force in May 2018.