Trainee diary: Counselling Skills
Unconditional positive regard
We were set a task this week where we were asked to research someone who had been in the news recently due to her controversially based therapy work. She is a Christian counsellor and she believes homosexuality is a sin and a mental illness. She believes she can reverse sexual orientation. This belief has raised a lot of questions for me, questions which I believe I can answer for myself due to my training so far, as well as my own beliefs.
Is this right? Is this ethical? Is it purely judgmental? Is it all based on her strong beliefs? Is it acceptable for a counsellor to include their own beliefs in religion within their practice?
Shouldn’t a counsellor be without prejudice? Isn’t prejudice a baseless and usually negative attitude towards others? Surely prejudice is all about negative feelings, stereotyped beliefs, and a tendency to discriminate against others. Is this what religion is about? Is it acceptable to discriminate, be prejudice and judgemental when you hold religious beliefs?
Am I being judgmental or prejudice when I say I do not believe in her methods of practice? Or am I entitled to air my opinion in a constructive way? Is this counsellor entitled to her opinions? Yes, we all are but surely as a counsellor she should remain neutral.
Do I believe I could change a person’s sexual orientation? No, however, I do believe I could help them explore the feelings they have around this issue.
What qualities do I need to be a counsellor? I believe a counsellor needs to possess several qualities. These include: the ability to respect others; the ability to remain impartial/neutral, without judgement; the ability to value others; the ability to accept who they are, their beliefs, views and opinions; the ability to nurture and care for people; the ability to show compassion and understanding; and the ability to empathise, i.e. walk in their shoes.
All of these qualities fall under Carl Rogers’ idea of unconditional positive regard. Unconditional positive regard is being able to accept and support a person regardless of what the person says, does, believes or is.
Is it easy to practice respect, value, acceptance, care and nurturing, compassion and understanding, empathy and being able to remain non-judgemental? Do we say what we really think or do we just listen politely? By behaving in a non-judgemental way I am able to acknowledge my own beliefs and values and separate them from the other person’s experiences. It’s about knowing there are differences between us all.
I must reserve my judgement and understand that everyone sees things differently. I must remember that what is right for me may not be right for another. I should not judge what people should or should not do. I think it’s possible to say what we think without judging, it’s a fine line but we are all entitled to our own opinions. When someone is troubled they need help, not judgement.
If we have strong views, views that might conflict with others, should we be counsellors? Yes, as long as it’s possible for us to put aside our own beliefs and provide unconditional positive regard.
The views expressed in this blog/our blogs are the personal views of the writer(s) and should not be taken to represent the views of CPCAB.Tags related to this blog:
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