Development of Counselor Counselee Relationship



The process of counseling is dynamic in nature. The effectiveness of the Process of Counseling ultimately depends upon the Development of Counselor Counselee Relationship. Hence, it is one of the most vital factor that contributes towards successful counseling.

It can start with rapport establishment, further, progress through problem identification, goal setting and intervention. Finally, follow up is in schedule.

Broadly, three major stages in the process can be described as follows:
1) Developing a relationship
2) Working in a relationship and
3) Terminating a relationship
Each stage has its own universal qualities and problems associated with it. Therefore, counselors must be aware of the problems involved in the process of counseling.

1. Developing a Relationship

Building a relationship, the first stage in the process of counselling, is a continuous process. It begins by having the counselor win the battle for structure and client win the battle for initiative. In fact, such situations both parties are winners. The client wins by becoming more informed about the nature of counselling and learning what to expect. The counselor wins by creating an atmosphere where the client is comfortable about sharing thoughts and feelings. Thus, the counselor counselee relationship is starting to form.

It is about behaving and demonstrating the core conditions of genuineness, respect and empathy. Further, to develop solid relationships, the counselor needs to create a safe environment where they will feel comfortable enough to open up and talk to the counselor about anything that is on their minds.

Consequently, certain tasks to be taken care of by the counselors are:

  • Laying foundations for trust
  • Establishing the structure and form of the relationship
  • Informed consent process
  • Articulating roles of counselor and client and developing a collaborative working alliance
  • The “getting to know you” phase is the most critical stage of the relationship

The counselor should work on the following things during this stage:

1) Developing Rapport and Building Trust
2) Create core conditions necessary for counselling

Developing Rapport & Building Trust

  • Predictability and consistency During the first stage of the relationship, it is critical to be both predictable and consistent.
  • Testing  Young people generally do not trust adults. As a result, they use testing as a coping or defense mechanism to determine whether they can trust the counselor. Moreover, they will test to see if the counselor really cares about them.
  • Establish confidentialityDuring the first stage of the relationship, it is important to establish confidentiality with one’s client. This helps in developing trust.
  • Goal setting (transitions into Stage 2) – It is helpful during Stage 1 to take the time to set at least one achievable goal together for the relationship.

Creating Core Conditions in Counselor Counselee Relationship

In 1957, Carl Rogers originally proposed a model of core conditions needed in building a relationship:
i) Empathetic understanding: Empathy promotes rapport and relationship.
ii) Unconditional positive regard: Considering Client as person of worth, and is separate from actions.
iii) Congruence: Showing Genuine self in client interaction

In 1969, Carkuff adds his model of counseling skills
i) Respect: It strengthens the focus.
ii) Confrontation: It promotes realistic and accurate view.
iii) Immediacy: Consideration of problem with Here and Now attitude.
iv) Concreteness: Paying attention on what is practical in the process.
v) Self disclosure: Promoting positive perception and appropriate focus in counseling relationship.

2. Working in a relationship 

The successful outcome of any counselling process depends on a working alliance between counselor and the client. This occurs once the counselor counselee relationship is established and explored possible goals towards which to work.

Once trust has been established, the relationship moves into Stage 2.

Changing Perceptions
Clients often come to counselor as a last resort when they think that situation is not only serious but hopeless. Counselors can help clients change their distorted or unrealistic perceptions by offering them an opportunity to explore thoughts within a safe, accepting and in a non judgmental atmosphere.

Changing client’s perceptions requires a high degree of persuasive skill. Therefore, such input is known as leading.

Accurate Empathy
Use of empathy is one of the most vital elements in the counseling. Empathy is the counselor’s ability to experience the client’s world as if it were your own without ever using the quality. 2 components are –

    • Empathetic rapport
    • Communicative attunement

Self Disclosure
This method of Self disclosure is an important way to let clients know the counselor as a person.

Further, it takes the following forms:

    • The counselor’s own problems
    • Facts about the counselor’s role
    • The counselor’s reactions to the client (feedback)
    • The counselor’s reactions to the counselor-client relationship

Positive Regard
Client revelations must be protected from counselor’s “personal reactions,” especially rejection or disdain. So, the counselors should express  appreciation of the client as a unique and worthwhile person. Moreover, embrace the client’s ethnic self as well as other experiences that have shaped the client’s worldview.

Responding Styles
There are different Responding Styles of the clients –

    1. Affective Responding – this focuses on feelings
    2. Behavioral Responding – this focuses on actions and behaviors
    3. Cognitive Response – this focuses on thoughts and cognition

Furthermore, there are more methods like – Humor, Confrontation, Transference and Counter Transference.

3. Terminating a relationship

Successful termination is vital for the well being of client as well as counselor. In fact, it is the end of the professional relationship with the client when the session goals have been met.

A formal termination serves three functions:

  1. Counselling is finished and it is time for the client to face their life challenges.
  2. Changes which have taken place have generalized into the normal behavior of the client.
  3. The client has matured and thinks and acts more effectively and independently.

Timing of Termination
There is no one answer when termination is to take place. in fact, questions the counselor may wish to ask concerning termination include:

    • Have clients achieved behavioral, cognitive, or affective goals?
    • Can clients concretely show where they have made progress in what they wanted to accomplish?

Resistance to Termination
Clients and Counselors may not want counseling to end. In fact, in many cases this may be the result of feelings about the loss, grief or insecurities of losing the relationship.

Premature Termination
Many clients may end counselling before all goals are completed. This is seen by not making appointments, resisting new appointments etc. Similarly, counselors have to end counselling prematurely. However, a summary session is in order.

At times, a counselor needs to make a referral. However, it is important to remember that the counselor cannot follow up with the new counselor to see if the client followed through (Confidentiality issue).

Follow Up
A follow-up is in schedule for various reasons including evaluation, research, or checking with client.

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