Characteristics of Effective Counselors
Characteristics of Effective Counselors: The 8 H QualitiesSamuel T. GladdingWake Forest UniversityAmerican Counseling Association/Asia Pacific Counseling ConferenceSingaporeJune 18, 2015
Ernest Hemingway & the Six Word StorySomeone once bet Hemmingway he could not write a complete story in six words. In response, Hemmingway wrote:For sale, baby shoes, never worn.
Six word stories appropriate to counseling are: Painfully, he changed is to was.Torched the haystack. Found the needle.
Reason for Starting with Hemingway1) While Hemingways type of writing is brief, it is complete and most importantly, it tells a story.Counseling is a profession of stories. 2) I think the essence of counseling can be expressed in a few words. They may be tied together in a story or not. However, the words remind us of what counseling is and what we need to do as counselors.
With this keynote, I bet myself I could condense the essence of counseling/counselling into less than eight words, all beginning with the same letter. (It sounded like fun at the time). I will let you be the judge of how well I did and if my expansion on the words is not that good than you win the bet (which is my eternal gratitude for the feedback). Before getting to the words themselves, let me explain that in picking the letter H, I realized all too late that the 4-H Clubs (Head, Heart, Hands, and Health) in the United States had already claimed this letter. So I doubled it! 8 H! (and no club)Regardless, lets examine the question of What makes counselors most effective globally?
Question: What Makes Counselors Effective?Is it genetics? They look like caring people? Is it training? They have received a superior education? Is it the type of clients they see? YAVIS (young, attractive, verbal, intelligent, social)
Question: What Makes Counselors Effective?Is it intelligence? They are able to see what a client needs and respond quickly and appropriately
Is it creativity? They are able to make combination interventions that are not obvious to most counselors?
Is it experience? They get better with time?
Answer: What Makes a Counselor Effective?All of the qualities mentioned in the previous slides are important individually in some ways and yet what makes a counselor effective is its gestalt its togetherness, more than any of these qualities alone. 1) Look of Caring/Competence, 2) Training/Education, 3) Client Type, 4) Intelligence, 5) Creativity, 6) Experience
The reason for looking at a multitude of qualities in evaluating counseling is that like life, counseling is a complex process and people are multifaceted. Many times people think, if I just had a bit more of this or that. Such thinking is parallel to believing a bit more salt or spice will make a dish better. The only trouble with such thinking is that counseling is not cooking!
Many professionals have tried to answer the question of effectiveness in a counselor. Here are a few summaries of their opinions.
What Makes a Counselor Effective? (Words to think about.)Raw products (talent) is not enough, it needs to be refined (like sugar cane). Great counselors arent born. Instead, great counselors develop and perfect the intricacies of their counseling skills over time. Gerald Juhnke (UTSA, Texas) http://ct.counseling.org/2012/12/the-recipe-for-truly-great-counseling/ Having ability will get you into the door (to be a counselor) but the question becomes what do you do when the door is closed (the counseling session)? Jeffrey Kottler (Cal State Fullerton) http://ct.counseling.org/2012/12/the-recipe-for-truly-great-counseling/Effective counselors have a multitude of skills Don W. Locke (Mississippi College) http://ct.counseling.org/2012/12/the-recipe-for-truly-great-counseling/
Question: What Makes Counselors Effective?The tangibles for example, office set up, dress of counselor, degrees on the wall, therapeutic approaches, and interventions are all important in many, ways and evidence-based research is crucial in counseling. However, much of what happens in a counseling session is dependent on what may be referred to as the intangible (those qualities that are hard to always empirically verify, like the strength of a relationship between counselors and clients). Although empiricism is essential to our field, claiming to provide successful counseling using only empirically validated interventions is a way of hiding from what truly affects change in counseling a genuine human connection. Daniel Weigel (Oklahoma) http://ct.counseling.org/2012/12/the-recipe-for-truly-great-counseling/With this background, lets move to the 8 H Qualities.
The 8 H Qualities In addressing the 8 H qualities I also hope to at least touch on at least two other questions: Why is it that some promising counselors never fulfill their potential? They catch on fire and then burn out.What are we, or should we, be looking for in choosing and educating the next generation of counselors and in assisting the present generation?The 8 H Qualities I want to talk about are not the answer to all of the complex questions in counseling but they are a start.
The 8 H Qualitiesdeal with Heart (feeling, affect)Head (thinking, listening, speaking)Hold (both stopping and continuing an action)Holistic (all aspects of a person)Hope (optimism)Hurt (the wounded healer concept)Humanity (altruism, selflessness)Humor (laughing, seeing the absurd in life)
1. Heart (Feelings, Affect) 1 Feeling/Affect has to do with the primacy of how we process life (Zajonc, 1984) or as the poet e.e.cummings has writtenSince feeling is first,who pay any attention to the syntax of things will never wholly kiss you. We can teach skills but we are limited as to how much we can help someone improve their feeling level. Mark Pope (Missouri) say he thinks one of the most important aspects of counseling is understand your own feelings.http://ct.counseling.org/2012/12/the-recipe-for-truly-great-counseling/
1. Heart (Feelings, Affect) 1 Let me expand on feelings for a moment and use the heart as an example. In every day life we talk about the importance of feelings. We say words like a person is a heart throb or if we are rejected by someone we have a heart ache. Popular music picks it up, too, for example, the pop group Air Supply has a lyric that goes: The beating of my heart is a drumAnd its looking for a rhythm like you.The point is that most important decisions in life are made from the heart (feelings). Take for instance, the love (or loves) of your life. Did you decide to pursue a mate because you just liked his or her hair or the clothes he or she wore. The answer: No!!!!!! You had feelings for that person. The same with careers. We either feel like a fish out of water or we feel we belong. Stories of Carl Rogers, Ginger Rogers, Mr. Rogers, Kenny Rogers, etc.
1. Heart (Feelings, Affect) 1 The same should be true for our profession of counseling, too. If people do not have a feeling a passion, a sense of calling they usually do not last as counselors because counseling is hard work and toxic. We listen to people at their most trying and hurting times. Thus, feeling comes first with those of us in the profession or considering the profession. We have to have a passion for what we are doing, or about to do, if we are going to be successful.Likewise, feeling comes first with our clients who are in the midst of making interpersonal, intrapersonal, career, family, and other choices in life. What they decide to do with their lives is more of an affective than a cognitive decision. Therefore, we have to help clients wake up to their feelings (if they have flat affect), calm down their feelings (if they are manic) and acknowledge the importance of their affect and use it wisely.
2. Head (quick thinking, observing, listening)2That leads us to the head (cognitions). One of Eric Bernes most famous books had a catchy title: What do you say after you say hello? As counselors we follow what our client is saying. Knowing how to respond, when, and how can make the difference between doing what is therapeutic and what is terrible. We have to master microskills and use our ears, eyes, and even olfactory senses to help our clients and to help ourselves in assisting our clients. We have leads but there is no prescribed response we can or should give. We are not computers. Otherwise we would have mechanical or robotic counselors like Eliza.
Eliza, the computer counselor 2 ELIZA is a computer program who emulates a Rogerian psychotherapist.ELIZA has almost no intelligence whatsoever, only tricks like string substitution and canned responses based on keywords. Yet when the original ELIZA first appeared in the 60's, some people actually mistook her for human. The illusion of Elizas intelligence worked best if people limited their conversations to talking about themselves and little else.However, the point about using ones head is that this part of our body can do more good or do more damage than any other part of our anatomy. We must observe and listen to how congruent a client is. It seems simple but it is not.
2. Head (quick thinking, observing,listening)2In using our heads in counseling, we nod, we listen, we reflect, we probe, we confront, we summarize, and essentially we become fully verbal and non-verbal when appropriate. Our heads give us away. Clients know we are with them or not, by looking at our heads.Story of the accountant, coffee, and nodding off.
3. Hurt (that has been healed/resolved) 3Study by Barr --- Barr, A. (2006). An investigation into the extent to which Psychological Wounds inspire Counsellors and Psychotherapists to Become Wounded Healers, the significance of these Wounds on