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Consultant Identity Requirement - Effective Consultant Model
The personality of the consultant (psychotherapist) stands out in almost all theoretical systems as the most important healing tool in the counseling process. It emphasizes one or the other of its features. The famous English psychoanalyst of Hungarian descent M. Balint in 1957 spoke of the complete oblivion that psychotherapy is not theoretical knowledge, but personal skills. He is echoed by the no less famous representative of humanistic psychology S. Rogers (1961), emphasizing that the theory and methods of a consultant are less important than the exercise of his role. A. Gombs and assoc. (1969; cited from George, Cristiani, 1990), based on several studies, found that a successful consultant is distinguished from a loser by personality traits. When asked about the criteria for the success of a psychotherapist, S. Freud answered that a psychoanalyst is not necessarily a medical education, but requires observation and the ability to penetrate the client’s soul. So, in essence, the main technique of psychological counseling is an "I-as-a-tool", i.e. the main means of stimulating the improvement of the client’s personality is the personality of the consultant (A. Adber: “the treatment technique is embedded in you”).
A. Storr (1980) notes that psychotherapy and psychological counseling are considered to be unusual professions, as it is difficult for many people to imagine how to listen to other people's stories about unhappy lives and difficulties for days on end. Therefore, representatives of these professions are considered either abnormal or worldly saints who have overcome human limitations. Neither the first nor the second is true. Hence the question: “Who is the consultant, or rather, what does the consultant represent as a person, what are the requirements for him as a person, which makes him a professional assistant in the complicated problems of other people?”
First of all, it should be said that no one is born a psychotherapist or consultant. The required qualities are not innate, but develop throughout life. Summarizing the above, we emphasize that the effectiveness of a consultant is determined by personality traits, professional knowledge and special skills. Each of these factors provides high-quality consultative contact, which is the core of psychological counseling. As a result, the final effect of consultation depends on the advisory contact - changing the client’s personality in the course of the consultant’s constructive actions. Without diminishing the importance of theoretical and practical training, we are nevertheless inclined to give preference to the personality factor of the consultant. At one time, M. Balint and E. Balint wrote: “Knowledge can be obtained from books or lectures, skills are acquired in the process of work, but their value is limited without improving the personality of a psychotherapist. Psychotherapy becomes a craft paved with good intentions if it is not raised to professional level appropriate psychotherapist personality traits. "
What should be the combination of personality traits that would ensure the success of counseling to the greatest extent?
Although there is a lot of research in this area, unfortunately there is no definite answer about personality traits that contribute to the effective work of a consultant. Very often, when describing a successful consultant, both professionals and clients use everyday concepts: “open”, “warm”, “attentive”, “sincere”, “flexible”, “tolerant”. Attempts have been made to highlight the personality traits necessary for a consultant to work on professional selection. The National Association of Career Guidance in the United States identifies the following personality traits (cited by George, Cristiani, 1990):
- The manifestation of a deep interest in people and patience in communicating with them. [M. Buber (1961) described this factor as an interest in people because of their being, and not because some of them are schizophrenics or psychopaths];
- sensitivity to the attitudes and behavior of other people;
-emotional stability and objectivity;
-the ability to inspire the trust of other people;
Respect for the rights of others.
In 1964, the U.S. Consultant Oversight and Training Committee established the following six personality traits needed by a consultant (cited in George, Cristiani, 1990):
- trust in people;
- respect for the values of another person;
- lack of prejudice;
-consciousness of professional duty.
L. Wolberg (1954) emphasizes such features: sensitivity, objectivity (not identifying oneself with customers), flexibility, empathy, and the absence of one's own serious problems. He considers authoritarianism, passivity and dependence, isolation, a tendency to use clients to satisfy his needs, inability to be tolerant of various motives of clients, and a neurotic attitude towards money as especially HARMFUL for a consultant.
A. Gombs et al. Found in his study that a successful consultant usually perceives others as able to solve their own problems and take responsibility, as they prefer to be identified with people rather than objects.
N. Strupp et al. (1969; cited by Schneider, 1992), who examined the features of a “good consultant” from a client’s perspective, indicates attentiveness, listening ability, warmth, cordiality, wisdom in friendly advice.
According to A. Storr (1980), the ideal psychotherapist or consultant is able to be a nice person, frank and open to the feelings of others; able to identify with a variety of people; warm, but not sentimental, not striving for self-affirmation, but having his own opinion and capable of protecting him; able to serve the benefit of his customers.
If we continue the review of numerous sources of literature on the personality traits that a consultant needs in order to help, constitute a catalyst for self-knowledge, change and improvement of another person, we will approach the personality model of an effective consultant.
. A similar list of personality traits could serve as the basis for a consultant training program. We are talking, of course, about the "moving" model, since each consultant has the opportunity to supplement it. Consider the factors that can make up the skeleton of such a model.
J. Bugental (1965) calls authenticity the core quality of a psychotherapist and the most important existential value. He identifies three main signs of authentic existence:
-full awareness of the present moment;
-the choice of a way of life at the moment;
- taking responsibility for your choice.
Authenticity to some extent generalizes many personality traits. First of all, this is an expression of sincerity towards the client. An authentic person longs to be and is himself in his immediate reactions and in his holistic behavior. He allows himself not to know all the answers to vital questions, if he really does not know them. He does not behave like a man in love if at the moment he feels hostility. The difficulties of most people are that they spend a lot of energy on playing roles, on creating an external facade, instead of using it to solve real problems. If a consultant hides behind a professional role most of the time, the client will also hide from him. If the consultant performs the role of only a technical expert, dissociating himself from his personal reactions, values, feelings, the consultation will be sterile, and its effectiveness will be doubtful. We can get in touch with the life of a client only by remaining living people. An authentic consultant is the most suitable model for clients, serving as an example of flexible behavior.
Openness to the personal experience of a consultant psychologist is understood not in the sense of openness to other people, but as sincerity in the perception of one’s own feelings.
Social experience teaches us to deny, to reject our feelings, especially negative ones. The child is told: "Shut up, big children (or boys) do not cry!" The adults around them say the same thing: "Do not cry!" or "Don’t be nervous!" The pressure of those around them forces out sadness, irritability, and anger. An effective consultant should not drive away any feelings, including negative ones. Only in this case can one successfully control one's behavior, since repressed feelings become irrational, a source of uncontrolled behavior. When we are aware of our emotional reactions, we can choose this or that way of behavior in the situation ourselves, and not allow unconscious feelings to upset the regulation of our behavior. A consultant is able to promote positive changes in a client only when he is tolerant of the whole variety of others and his emotional reactions.
Limited self-knowledge means restriction of freedom, and deep self-knowledge increases the possibility of choice in life. The more the consultant knows about himself, the better he will understand his clients, and vice versa - the more the consultant knows his clients, the deeper he understands himself. According to E. Kennedy (1977), the inability to hear what is happening inside us increases stress exposure and limits our effectiveness, in addition, the likelihood of falling victim to satisfaction in the process of counseling one's unconscious needs increases. It is very important to be realistic about yourself. The answer to the question of how to help another person lies in the self-esteem of the consultant, the adequacy of his attitude to his own abilities and, in general, to life.
The consultant must know who he is, who he can become, what he wants from life, what is important for him in essence. He turns to life with questions, answers the questions posed to him by life, and constantly checks his values. Both in professional work and in personal life, the consultant should not be a simple reflection of the hopes of other people, he should act guided by his own internal position. This will allow him to feel strong in interpersonal relationships.
Many people feel uncomfortable in situations in which they lack structure, clarity, certainty. But since one of the prerequisites for the formation of personality is the “farewell” of a person to the familiar, known from their own experience and entry into “unfamiliar territory”, the consultant absolutely needs self-confidence in situations of uncertainty. In essence, it is precisely such situations that make up the “fabric” of counseling. After all, we never know which client and problem we will face, which decisions we will have to make.
Confidence in your intuition and adequacy of feelings, confidence in the correctness of decisions made and the ability to take risks - all these qualities help to bear the stress created by uncertainty during frequent interactions with clients.
Since many situations in counseling arise under the supervision of a consultant, he should be responsible for his actions in these situations. Understanding your responsibility allows you to freely and consciously make a choice at any time during consultation - to agree with the client’s arguments or enter into a productive confrontation. Personal responsibility helps to take criticism more constructively. In such cases, criticism does not cause psychological defense mechanisms, but serves as useful feedback that improves the effectiveness of activities and even the organization of life.
The consultant is obliged to evaluate people - their feelings, views, peculiar personality traits, but to do this without condemnation and labeling. This type of relationship with customers is very important, however, you should take into account the fears that most people experience when trying to establish a close, warm relationship with others. It seems to some that the expression of positive feelings obliges, limits freedom, makes it vulnerable. Someone is afraid of partner's rejection of positive feelings, their rejection, therefore, it seems safer to postpone the deepening of interpersonal relations. Such fears are alien to an effective consultant; he is able to freely express his feelings towards other people, including clients.
Usually success leads to set great goals, and failure, on the contrary, to lower the bar of claims below. Sometimes this mechanism of self-defense is violated, and then too large a goal will be doomed to failure in advance or the pursuit of an insignificant goal will not bring any satisfaction. So, an effective consultant must understand the limitations of their capabilities. First of all, it is important not to forget that any consultant, regardless of training, is not omnipotent. In fact, not a single consultant is able to build the right relationships with each client and help all clients resolve their problems. Such naive optimism can cause a “cold shower” in everyday counseling and constantly cause guilt. The consultant must abandon the unrealistic desire to become perfect. In counseling, we can always do our job “well”, but not perfectly. One who is not able to recognize the limitations of his capabilities lives on illusions that he is able to fully know and understand the other person. Such a consultant constantly blames himself for mistakes instead of learning useful lessons, and as a result, his activities are ineffective. If we allow our own limitations, we avoid unnecessary stress and guilt. Then customer relationships become deeper and more realistic. The correct assessment of one’s own capabilities allows one to set attainable goals.
Summarizing the above requirements for the personality of a consultant, it can be argued that an effective consultant is primarily a mature person. The more diverse a consultant's style of personal and professional life is, the more effective his activities will be. Sometimes expressing feelings and simply listening to what the client says is the best, but it is dangerous to limit yourself to just such a tactic of counseling, sometimes it is necessary to confront the client. Sometimes you should interpret his behavior, and sometimes encourage the client to interpret the meaning of his behavior. Sometimes counseling requires directivity and structure, and sometimes you can afford to get carried away by the conversation without a specific structure. In counseling, as in life, one should not be guided by formulas, but by one's intuition and the needs of the situation. This is one of the most important attitudes of a mature consultant.
K. Schneider (1992) identifies three important postulates of qualified psychological counseling and psychotherapy:
Personal maturity consultant. It is understood that the consultant successfully solves his life problems, is frank, tolerant and sincere in relation to himself.
Social maturity consultant. It is understood that the consultant is able to help other people effectively solve their problems, frank, tolerant and sincere towards clients.
The maturity of a consultant is a process, not a condition. It is understood that it is impossible to be mature always and everywhere.
At first glance, the model of an effective consultant we have drawn may seem too majestic and far from reality. At the same time, the assertion suggests that the features of an effective consultant coincide with those of a successful person. A consultant should strive for such a model if he wants to be not a technical craftsman, but an artist of psychological counseling. Finally, the personality traits of an effective consultant can also be the goal of psychological counseling - the appearance of these qualities in the client in this case becomes an indicator of the effectiveness of counseling.
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Consultant Identity Requirement - Effective Consultant Model
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