This is the first stage of the helping relationship after referral by self or other agency , if they feel this is the best approach to help the individual. The initial stage to the beginning is to make contact with the client, introductions and exploration.
The client will be warmly received and made to feel relaxed then shown into the counselling room , which will have two chairs three feet apart facing each other and will be free from any hazards –wires which could be a trip hazard – for example as to make sure that the health and safety act is adhered to. The counsellor will then explain the fire procedures to the client and any specific meeting points and exits and where any toilets may be situated. The room should be warm and welcoming to help clients relax , with care made to ensure the complete privacy – ensuring door is closed or “ in session “ or “do not disturb “ signs are visible.
The next process will be to negotiate a contract with the client to establish a working pattern and the responsibility of both client and counsellor , this will cover the time of each session along with the number of sessions allocated to the client to begin with , dates as well as the effect of late attendance on session time or possibly cancellation of appointments and timescales in regards this as well as any potential cost.
The cost of the sessions will be agreed , if a fee is payable.
The contract will also contain a confidentiality agreement , this will inform the client that whatever is discussed will be held in confidence , but , that this confidentiality will be broken if there is risk of harm to themselves , others or required by law , an example may be issues relating to safeguarding children – childrens act 1989 or acts of terrorism , it should also be made clear that every effort will be made to discuss this first. The contract could also include that the counsellor works to the ethical framework of the BACP and adheres to the data protection act 1998 as well as any complaints procedures.
The contract should be read to the client by the counsellor and any questions answered in respect of its content.
Both partys should sign and date the document.
The counsellor will use SOLER to make the client feel at ease by being wam , friendly and relaxed ask the client to tell them what has brought them counselling , what they hope to achieve from undertaking counselling as well as what they may expect , they are encouraged to share their story in their own way with no pressure placed upon the client , the client will be made to feel the centre of attention. The counsellor will then look to explore the clients story with the use of skills such as listening , including silences and non verbal communication -nodding , reflective skills – paraphrasing and restating to gain understanding on part of the counsellor as well as the client , this also shows the client that they have been heard and understood , probing via open questions or ,this can give clarity and define problems as well as highlight these for the client , hopefully the counsellor can help the client prioritise these in order of importance , what is manageable , what would make the most difference and or what to work on now , can help the client from feeling stuck
Unconditional positive regard , empathy and congruence should be evident throughout with any questions answered as honestly and directly as possible.
Five to ten minutes before the end of the session the counsellor will start to close the session by summarising what has been said by the client , going over key points raised by the client and any areas that have been prioritised by the client , this also gives the counsellor time to “ put back together “ the client if it has been a rather emotive session.
The counsellor will explain that from the identified or prioritised issues which the client would like to talk about at the next session.
The next appointment…