134 – Giving and Receiving Feedback in Counselling Training
Personal Limitations in Person-Centred Therapy – Theory in the Counselling Room
In episode 134 of the Counselling Tutor Podcast, Ken Kelly and Rory Lees-Oakes talk about whether therapists as individuals may be the limiting factor in the person-centred approach. ‘Check-In with CPCAB’ then offers some tips for positively and constructively giving and receiving feedback in counselling training.
Last, Ken and Rory discuss the place of theory in the counselling room in different modalities – before making an exciting announcement that in January 2020, Counselling Tutor will be launching new products aimed at providing continuing professional development opportunities for qualified counsellors.
Personal Limitations in Person-Centred Therapy (starts at 1.40 mins)
Jeffrey Masson (a former psychoanalyst) is well known in the world of counselling and psychotherapy for his book Against Therapy (first published in 1988).
In this, he presents various arguments against different modalities of therapy, including the person-centred approach (in a chapter entitled ‘The Problem with Benevolence’).
Masson suggests that some counsellors put on the core conditions rather than these being a true way of being for them.
Indeed, the success of person-centred therapy does rely on the therapist truly believing in the process rather than seeing this as a technique to be applied in the therapy room alone.
In this sense, we as individuals may be the limiting factor in person-centred therapy, partly as some therapists find it harder to be congruent, empathic and non-judgemental than others.
The success of person-centred therapy does rely on the therapist truly believing in the process rather than seeing this as a technique to be applied in the therapy room alone.
Do come and join us on the Counselling Tutor Facebook page – you might like to tell us whether you think it’s possible to be truly non-judgmental, for example.
You can also read a handout by Rory on the topic of criticisms of person-centred therapy. You can download this free of charge here, or access it through the Handouts Vault and Counselling Study Resource.
Check-In with CPCAB: Giving and Receiving Feedback in Counselling Training (starts at 9.25 mins)
Rory speaks to Heather Price (Senior Counselling Professional) at CPCAB (Counselling & Psychotherapy Central Awarding Body) about giving and receiving feedback in counselling training.
While feedback is essential in order to enable us to grow as professionals in the world of counselling and psychotherapy, it can feel difficult both to have to give and to receive this.
We might feel unqualified to give feedback – but do remember that you are just as qualified as any other member of your group.
Or our past experiences – especially in the world of education – might mean we associate receiving feedback with punishment and humiliation, meaning we are transferred back to the past emotionally when this occurs now.
This could also reflect on our provision of feedback to others, in that we might fear others feeling hurt by our comments.
Heather and Rory give a number of tips on how best to navigate these potential difficulties:
Giving feedback in counselling training
- Geoff Petty, an expert on teaching methods, suggests ensuring that the feedback you give is task-centred not ego-centred.
- Remember that if just one person gives you a specific piece of feedback, then it’s less likely that this reflects any real truth about you than if a number of people do so.
- When giving feedback, make sure you have a template or list of areas to focus on – ask your tutor for one if you haven’t already been given this.
Receiving feedback in counselling training
- Try to think of training to be a counsellor like learning to drive: for the sake of safety, it’s essential to be able to receive feedback.
- When you receive feedback, you can choose whether or not to take this on board, but do try not to make an instant decision on this: be willing to reflect.
- If you’re going to be receiving feedback, you could ask your observer(s) to focus on a particular skill that you’ve been working to develop.
- Keep a written record of the feedback you receive as you’ll be able to use this in learning reviews.
In short, do try to take a positive approach to feedback and to see this as constructive.
For more information about CPCAB, please see its website. CPCAB is the UK’s only awarding body run by counsellors for counsellors.
Theory in the Counselling Room (starts at 22.05 mins)
In the final section of this week’s Counselling Tutor Podcast, Ken and Rory explore how we can use theory to help develop and repair the therapeutic relationship.
They ask whether there is a place for theory in the therapy room, whether theory can get in the way of the relationship, and how to achieve the right balance between these key elements of therapy.
There is significant difference between modalities in how explicit practitioners make theory in the counselling room. For example:
- In cognitive behavioural therapy and in transactional analysis, which are both taught models, explaining the theory to the client is a key part of the associated psycho-education.
- Person-centred therapists, on the other hand, do not usually make their theory explicit. They nonetheless need to understand and be proficient in this in order to use appropriate responses and interventions in the service of the client.
Whichever way that our modality encourages us to use and apply theory, it is important to remember that theory is intended at all times to be in the service of the client.