DSST Fundamentals of counseling

Trust is a prerequisite for a successful counseling

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Trust is a prerequisite for a successful counseling experience. Before entering counseling, a client is often anxious, nervous, and apprehensive. In order for the client to break out of these feelings and share intimate details of their life and thoughts, the client has to trust that the counselor is there to help, assist and support unconditionally. A counselor must be willing to accept the client as the person he or she truly is with no judgments . Acceptance is what will foster the trust that is so crucial in the counseling relationship. The client has to feel secure that nothing he or she tells the counselor will cause judgments or criticisms. The counselor’s role is to listen and guide the client to develop the skills required to make their own good decisions. The counselor must appreciate the client for who he or she is regardless of differences in values, beliefs, and opinions. There are four core dimensions required in order to establish an effective counseling relationship. These dimensions are genuineness, empathy, respect, and concreteness. Some people are innately more inclined to demonstrate these characteristics in their responses to people but they can be learned and practiced.
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Genuineness refers to the ability of the counselor to show his or her true self in a counseling relationship. This means not hiding behind a mask or playing a role when dealing with clients. The counselor must exhibit genuine responses to the client and their verbal response must match their internal feelings. If there is incongruence, the client will sense it and the ability to develop trust will be compromised. Risking to be totally open and honest with a client will encourage the client to be open and honest with the counselor and that is when true insight and profound changes occur. Empathy is the ability to adopt another person’s viewpoint in order to fully understand how the other person is feeling at the moment. Empathy is crucial to developing a helping relationship. Using empathy, a counselor can uncover and understand why the client feels the way he or she does and communicate this understanding back to the client. Nothing fosters trust more than knowing someone else understand you or “gets” what you’re thinking, feeling, or saying. To truly take on the other person’s frame of reference requires sensitivity and perceptivity. Empathic responses do just that and help the client gain further insight into their thoughts, feelings and actions. Respect is the ability to regard a client as a person of dignity and worth. This means showing a positive regard for the individual despite any difference in opinion or values. It means no judgments and no evaluations. For a person to demonstrate respect for others, he or she must respect himself or herself. The unconditional acceptance of oneself and others is absolutely necessary in a therapeutic relationship.
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