Working as a counsellor/ psychotherapist or training to do counselling/ psychotherapy is a huge committment. Part of the committment is to personal development and also to clinical supervision. Most courses and accrediting bodies require trainees to undertake personal counselling. Although there is at present only limited evidence that personal counselling affects effectiveness as a counsellor/ psychotherapist (e.g. Beutler et al., 2004). Often practising counsellors/ psychotherapists will want ongoing counselling, to complement clinical supervision, support client work and address any personal issues that arise.

Knowing that you ‘have to’ invest time and money in personal counselling it would be good to work with someone who has experience as a trainer, supervisor and BACP accredited counsellor/ psychotherapist. As well as these three criteria, Dr Tony Weston is a BACP Senior Accredited Supervisor of individual supervisees, a BACP National Award Winner, has professional interest in evidence-based practice and has worked as a counsellor with a number of practising counsellors/ psychotherapists and trainees from courses in Cambridge, Bury St Edmunds, Norwich, London and surrounding areas. His award winning research included outcomes from work with practising counsellors/ psychotherapists and trainees. Dr Weston is primarily a humanistic (person-centred) trained therapist and draws upon insights from cognitive-behavioural and psychodynamic therapies which he has also studied.

Following the 1950 work of Fiedler (an associate of Rogers), Van Wagoner et al (1991) also looked at what made for an ‘excellent psychotherapist’. Gelso et al., 2002 found some evidence that the factors found by Van Wagoner et al did indeed lead to better client outcomes.

Briefly, these factors, which imply some of the tasks of individual therapy before, during and after training as a counsellor/ therapist, are:

– self insight, understanding your own feelings, personalities and personal history
– self integration, addressing your own issues so that you retain your seperate identity from that of your client
– anxiety management, allowing your client to feel and express difficult emotions without you feeling overwhelmed
– empathy, being able to closely empathise with your client without losing yourself in the client’s difficulties
– conceptualising ability, seeing how your client relates to your chosen theoretical model

Given this evidence this can provide some of the focus for what is essentially a client-led exploration of self during your counselling as a counsellor/ psychotherapist or trainee. Dr Weston has developed a way of working with counsellors/ therapists and trainees so as to address these and other related issues during your counselling.

This type of counselling is appropriate for counsellors/ psychotherapists or trainees who follow humanistic models of counselling where ‘conditions’ of congruent empathy and unconditional positive regard are crucial (Mearns and Thorne, 2006). Furthermore provision of congruent empathy and unconditional positive regard are foundational to psychodynamic therapies (Jacobs, 2010) and cognitive-behavioural therapies (Beck, 1976 and Trower, Jones, Dryden & Casey, 2011), meaning this type of work is appropriate for followers of all schools of therapy.

Dr Tony Weston very much enjoys working with clients who are practising counsellors/ psychotherapists or in training. You can contact him now on 01223-894896 (phone is answered by a receptionist 24/7) or email him at tony.weston5@btinternet.com to make an initial appointment.

References:

Beck, A T (1976). Cognitive therapy and the emotional disorders. New York: Penguin.

Beutler, L E, Malik, M, Alimohamed, S, Harwood, T M, Talebi, H, Noble, S and Wong, E (2004). Therapist variables. In M J Lambert Bergin and Garfield’s Handbook of Psychotherapy and Behaviour Change Fifth Edition. New York: Wiley.

Fiedler, F E (1950). A comparison of therapeutic relationships in psychoanalytic, nondirective and Adlerian therapy. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 14 (6) 436-445.

Gelso, C J, Latts, M, Gomez, M and Fassinger, R E (2002). Countertransference management and therapy outcome: An initial evaluation. Journal of Clinical Psychology 58 861-867.

Jacobs, M (2010). Psychodynamic counselling in action. Fourth edition. Sage: London.

Mearns, D and Thorne, B (2006). Person-centred counselling in action. Second Edition. Sage: London.

Trower, P, Jones, J, Dryden, W and Casey, A (2011). Cognitive behavioural counselling in action. Second Edition. London: Sage.

Van Wagoner, S L, Gelso, C J, Hayes, J A, and Diemer, R (1991) Countertransference and the reputedly excellent psychotherapist. Psychotherapy 28 411-421.