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Working at relational depth in counselling
| for counsellors

The concept of Relational Depth is a development from Carl Rogers’ work in person-centred counselling and the core conditions of counsellor authenticity, empathic understanding and client acceptance, as some of the necessary and sufficient conditions for therapeutic change. But where Roger's approach focussed on providing those conditions for the client ... Read More »


Encoded messages and missing links
| for counsellors

Often the client can give us messages about their feelings toward us in encoded form. The therapist in this situation may or may not be right in suspecting that this is an encoded message about the therapeutic relationship, but it’s often useful to work on the assumption that it might be, and to explore the possibility. The mechanisms that underpin this can be ... Read More »


The importance of therapeutic re-experiencing
| for counsellors

Merton Gill (1914-94) challenged Freud’s notion that it was enough to remember repressed material for therapeutic change to ensue. He suggested that simply remembering was not enough: the key was re-experiencing it. Gill’s conditions for therapeutic re-experiencing of impulses, feelings and expectations are: they must be experienced while in the ... Read More »


Projective identification
| for counsellors

Projection is when I attribute to you some attitude or feeling which is not actually yours, but is mine. By doing this I am able to disavow part of myself. For example, I might see others as hostile and angry, where it was actually myself that had those feelings. In projective identification I project some part of myself onto you in such a way that ... Read More »


Countertransference
| for counsellors

Countertransference was first identified by Freud, whose position it was that it was harmful to the therapeutic relationship, and was something that the analyst should guard against. Since then definition has changed over time, and also varies between authors, so you may come across other definitions in your reading. In this early formulation, countertransference was ... Read More »


Archetypes and the collective unconscious
| for counsellors

Whereas Freud’s unconscious focussed on the biographical – a place where memories of life-experience could be repressed from conscious awareness – Jung’s notion of the unconscious focussed on the biological – that depth-unconscious that we inherit by virtue of being human, which we are born with, which is the same in ... Read More »


Working with eye movements
| for counsellors

Eye movements not only give hints about the client's mental processes - they can also affect them. typical eye patterns Studies have shown that there are typical patterns of eye movements that often correspond to types of thoughts and feelings. But well as eye movements indicating what is going on for the client, the reverse can hold - making those ... Read More »


Eye movements as clues to client processes
| for counsellors

Studies have shown that there are typical patterns of eye movements that often correspond to types of thoughts and feelings. Eye movements can give you hints and clues about what's going on for the person, but shouldn't be mistaken for factual evidence.  Be aware also, that these movements can be fleeting - it can take some practice to tune in to them. ... Read More »


Recognising the shadow in counselling
| for counsellors

In an episode of the TV show The Simpsons, one of the characters said that he liked working as a security officer because it satisfied both his desire to help people and his desire to hurt people. Of course this was a joke, but its funniness lay in the truth behind it, and in that there is a warning message there for anyone in a helping role, that we need to be aware of any ... Read More »


What is transference?
| for counsellors

Transference happens when we displace onto people unconscious wishes and fears which more properly relate to figures from our past, such as mother, father or other important figure. It involves inappropriately bringing the past into the present. We tend to imagine, without any real evidence, that others have the motives, intentions and feelings that those ... Read More »


How are counselling theories useful?
| for counsellors

A counselling theory is a set of hypotheses about what makes people tick, and how that might inform our work as counsellors. Theories are useful because they are predictive - they tell you what may be happening or what might happen - and because they are explanatory - they make sense of what has already happened or how things are now. Theories are ... Read More »


Self-transcendence
| for counsellors

Ernest Becker writing on the limits of psychotherapy, points out that opening one’s eyes to existential realities can not only result in greater feelings of wholeness and joy, but can also leave one with a greater awareness of the problematic nature of the realities of their situation. This reinforces the deep responsibility that is placed on the psychotherapist, not to undermine ... Read More »


Providing therapy for witnesses in court cases
| for counsellors

Some counsellors refuse therapy to those in impending court cases, for fear of being seen as "coaching" witnesses. But guidance does exist to help navigate this tricky area. The 1998 report Speaking Up For Justice, recommended that vulnerable or intimidated witnesses should not be denied emotional support and counselling, and that they may need ... Read More »


Pluralism as a model of Integration
| for counsellors

Pluralism “refers simply to the belief that there is no, one best set of therapeutic methods. It can be defined as the assumption that different clients are likely to benefit from different therapeutic methods at different points in time, and that therapists should work collaboratively with clients to help them identify what they want from therapy and how they might achieve it.” ... Read More »


Freedom and responsibility - two sides of the same coin
| for counsellors

Often counsellors hear their clients saying "I have no choice", which in reality can mean that the choices in question feel so difficult that they do not see them as possibilities. But failing to notice that we do things by choice - or fail to do them - can leave us feeling helpless and disempowered. One of the best-kept secrets of interpersonal relationships is ... Read More »


Models of Integration
| for counsellors

Integration, in counselling, is used to describe either an integration of two or more models of counselling or psychotherapy, or a theoretically sound integration of therapeutic techniques into an existing model. The difference between working integratively and working eclectically, is that although both approaches draw on multiple models, an ... Read More »


Integrative counselling - an overview
| for counsellors

Integration, in counselling, is used to describe either an integration of two or more models of counselling or psychotherapy, or a theoretically sound integration of therapeutic techniques into an existing model. The difference between working integratively and working eclectically, is that although both approaches draw on multiple models, an integrative practitioner works ... Read More »


Counselling models and the pretence of totality
| for counsellors

Viktor Frankl, founder of Logotherapy, stated: “There is no psychotherapy without a theory of man and a philosophy of life underlying it. Wittingly or unwittingly, psychotherapy is based on them.” (Frankl 1988:15). He objected to layered or stratified models as ways of conceptualising people: “Conceiving of man in terms of bodily, mental and spiritual strata or layers means dealing with him as if his somatic, psychic, and noetic modes of being ... Read More »


Therapeutic insights and blind spots
| for counsellors

Erich Fromm succinctly lays out the crucial discoveries of Freud, that: "people are largely determined by irrational drives most of these drives are unconscious attempts to bring them to awareness meet with energetic resistance apart from their particular constitutions, people’s development is largely determined by circumstances operating in childhood ... Read More »


The Multidimensional Integrative Framework
| for counsellors

In their text Integration in Counselling and Psychotherapy Lapworth and Sills (2010) attempt to show how an integrative framework can grow out of a therapist’s defined philosophy and beliefs about human experience. At the centre of the framework diagram is the notion of self, with the needs of self which, through therapy the practitioner is aiming to ... Read More »


Does incongruence compound the damage of neglect?
| for counsellors

A study by Rollo May, in his first book, The Meaning of Anxiety, based on his doctoral thesis, highlights the importance of congruence in relation to those who are in a carer role to us in childhood. May carried out a study of anxiety in single mothers, and found that neurotic anxiety didn't correlate with experiences of parental rejection per se, but rather with ... Read More »


Sandplay
| for counsellors

Sandplay is a way of working symbolically with the client. The therapist invites the client to create a scene in the sand tray, using the objects available for doing so and sculpting the sand too if they want. The therapist need not give the client more information than that, but might do, to help the client feel ‘held’ if they are unsure about the ... Read More »


Reframing
| for counsellors

Reframing is where you change the meaning or context of something so that the client can see it differently, with the aim of creating a shift in feelings, perceptions or behaviour. Though not always termed as such, reframing has been around at least since the 1940s, in the work of practitioners like Viktor Frankl and Milton Erickson. ... Read More »


Three metamorphoses of the spirit
| for counsellors

Counsellors sometimes utilise models of human development, and when working transpersonally can often use metaphor. This allegory from Nietzche combines both His image of the developed individual as a wheel rolling out of its own centre ("aus sich rollenden Rad") may also be equated with Rogers & Maslow's self-actualised individual. Like most ... Read More »


The triangle of insight
| for counsellors

When working with transference, we are helping the client make connections between three contexts: in here (in the relationship between therapist and client); out there (in the client’s relationships with others); and back then (relationships from the client’s past). The most effective of these, therapeutically, usually involves working with ... Read More »


Borderline Personality Disorder
| for counsellors

The term “Borderline” was first introduced more than sixty years ago to describe those who fell between being psychotic and neurotic but could not be classified properly as either. Although this concept was rejected in the seventies, the name has stuck. The primary features of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) are impulsivity and instability in relationships, self-image, and ... Read More »


Jane Elliott: The Anatomy of Prejudice
| for counsellors

Elliott is best know for the “brown-eyes blue-eyes” exercise she developed in the sixties as a primary school teacher, and has carried out repeatedly since, to give people a sense of what it feels like to experience colour prejudice. The idea came to her when she heard the news of Martin Luther King’s assassination, and felt that there must be something ... Read More »


Feminist Counselling
| for counsellors

Feminist counselling attempts to actively address the problems of social inequities, especially gender inequalities, in counselling. As befits a movement that challenges authoritarianism in the development of counselling and psychotherapy, there is no “authorised” definition of Feminist Counselling. Not so much a school as a mode of working (encompassing, e.g., ... Read More »


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