Another word for challenging is confronting. Challenging focuses on discrepancies, inconsistencies and mixed messages and is an invitation to examine feelings and behaviour that may be unhealthy for the client. Challenging helps the client to expand their self awareness and focus on discrepancies in their thoughts and feelings. Challenges must be well timed by the counsellor, supportive, sensitive and phrased in the appropriate language. This will enable the client to explore and understand their experiences and behaviours.
Focusing is used to direct the client’s conversation into areas that a counsellor would like to explore. It should always be used with caution because of the emotional releases that it may trigger in the client.
Summarising is brief statements used to pull together different forms of communication from the client, for example clarification on a particular theme. It may also be used when beginning or ending a session.
Counsellors are faced with making decisions about whether to continue supporting a client, or referring them to a person or organisation better placed to help them.
Ethics of Referral
Inform the client during the initial contractual conversation that referral may be a consideration. Always consider the client’s well being when making these decisions, and be aware that the client may feel let down by a referral decision.
Skills for Referral
Know your own strengths and limitations. Build a referral network and where possible refer early on. Avoid unnecessary referrals. Discuss referral decisions with your supervisor.