a female counsellor being her authentic self

Authenticity is key

As ex-lawyer, I have a particular style of counselling. I guess you can call it “directive”. I have a tendency to psycho-educate a lot, and will sometimes definitely “suggest” to people what to do (based on research and clients’ and my own experience). Looking at Carl Rogers’ Person-Centred Therapy principles, you could potentially say I am not really “counselling”; it could perhaps be seen as “mentoring” more than anything else.

I’m ok with that. Obviously, I have un-learnt a number of bad “lawyer-habits” over the years that weren’t useful in a counselling environment, and have learnt stacks of better “counsellor-habits”. Nevertheless, I still very much have my own style.

My university students often have questions about “how to be” a counsellor. They seem to think there is a particular way we should behave.

What I would say to this is: please be yourself. Be authentic. Learn a lot (if it’s helpful), and unlearn a lot (if it’s unhelpful), but stay who you are, in principle. You will have YOUR way of working with clients, and this will draw in clients who like that way. This also means some clients (or prospects) don’t like that style, and they don’t want to work with you (anymore). That’s ok. To each their own.

If anything is important in counselling, in my opinion, it’s authenticity. If we’re not authentic with clients, how can we then expect clients to be authentic with us? It goes both ways.

 

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