Could you improve your skills as a counsellor?

Improving or extending your existing counselling qualifications, or learning new areas of therapy, should always be considered by new and experienced counsellors alike. Being better trained and more adept at helping patients through their mental health issues will not only improve their lives, but help you to become a better professional.

Whatever area of counselling or therapy you specialise, or want to specialise in, the common thread between every counsellor is to help people. Whether counselling was always a career goal for you, or if you came to it later in life as a career change, perhaps after experiencing counselling sessions of your own, the opportunity to help and give something back can be all the motivation you need.

As with every career, the challenge to constantly improve your skills is continuous. And counselling is no different. If the commitment to your own professional development slips, you risk affecting not only your career, but your ability to effectively help your patients.

Counselling microskills

Depending on where you are in your career, professional development can range from attending workshops or conferences to networking. But there’s every opportunity to enhance your counselling microskills however qualified you are. Referring to the ability to communicate effectively, both verbally and non-verbally, with your patients, microskills are essential to improving your overall counselling skills.

Helping you develop your own self-awareness, as well as the awareness of your patients, microskills  can be used to reach a desired outcome. From basic communication skills, like asking open and closed questions, paraphrasing, prompts and summarising, to using subtle body language and facial expressions to show interest and understanding.

More advanced microskills (or influencing skills) include interpreting, self-disclosure, negotiation, confrontation, and the ability to ask questions in a different way. Put together, these perceptive skills can all be useful in establishing and building the connection between you and your patients in the long term. Constantly working on and improving these key skills will help you get the most out of each session for a successful end result.  

Patient understanding

Every patient has a different frame of mind, ranging from emotionally fragile and willingly open to counselling or therapy, to those patients who might be required to attend sessions because they have to, but don’t want to.

For those patients who seek therapy voluntarily, their emotional state could swing from one end of the spectrum to the other. Having the ability to change tac and adjust your approach accordingly depending on their needs, is a skill which can be learned and enhanced over time. But its importance can’t be underestimated.

Conversely, your counselling skills may be put to the test with patients who see no benefit to talk-based therapy. They may be hesitant or unsure—even sceptical—of the process and how it could help them. Such patients might have been referred to you by a GP after the realisation that something isn’t quite right, but a request for traditional medication was declined in favour of therapy.

In this case, you may encounter feelings of resentment or blame. Similarly, if a patient has been instructed to attend, perhaps through a court order or as part of a rehabilitation programme, you may experience those same feelings and attitudes, making it difficult to make significant progress with treatment. Any patient can become unresponsive, angry, or succumb to extreme emotions. They may also feel you’re judging them for their actions, feelings or personal circumstances.

Whatever the conditions your patients visit you under, their behaviour can be a challenge to your methods or strength of character. Having the ability to be responsive to situations with your patients will allow you to react accordingly if the need arises.

A flexible approach

As a counsellor or therapist, you may specialise in one or more areas of treatment, such as obsessive compulsive disorder, bereavement and loss, post-traumatic stress, or anger management. While these are worthy and much needed areas of therapy, limiting your knowledge and skills could be detrimental to your career and your ability to help your patients.

Perhaps you have a passion for your specialisms, or maybe you have direct experience in one of them for greater client empathy and understanding. But having a flexible approach to learning new areas and methods of treatment will allow you to have a much more wide-reaching skillset, giving you the opportunity to understand and help your patients.

But beyond microskills and specialisms to improve your counselling skills, there’s also the opportunity to undertake officially recognised courses. Gaining or increasing your qualifications through these courses will help greatly with the range of patient issues you might encounter in your career. They will also help you to develop your own self-knowledge as well as the understanding of your patients.

Chrysalis courses

Accredited by the National Counselling Society, the range of courses from Chrysalis will help you gain valuable qualifications, putting you on the path to becoming an Accredited counselor or therapist. These qualifications help with inclusion on their Accredited Register, which is acknowledged by the Professional Standards Authority.

If you’re just starting your career in counselling, courses start with the Certificate in Hypnotherapy & Counselling Skills. This is an entry level course over 1 year where you can achieve an AIM Awards Level 3 certificate. The course covers well known hypnotherapy techniques and provides you with initial counselling skills.

To help you further your skills, more advanced courses will help you achieve an AIM Awards Level 4 Diploma in Counselling Skills and Therapy, and an AIM Awards Level 4 Diploma in Psychotherapeutic Counselling.

For more advanced and experienced counsellors, the Chrysalis Professional Diploma in Psychotherapy Counselling Practice Course (Prof.Dip Psy C.), and the Chrysalis Higher Professional Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling Training (Informed by Research) (H.Dip Psy C.) will improve your practice success as well as increasing your practical experience, skills and knowledge.

For more information and full details about all our Chrysalis courses and how they can benefit you and your patients, visit our courses page, email us , or call us today on 01278 401352.