Generally speaking, counselor skills would certainly include a knowledge of the psychological theories underpinning our understanding of the human experience.
Without that understanding, using the techniques proponents of a particular theory offer becomes robotic, and can diminish a client's experience of counseling.
Counselor skills would include an awareness of theories of personality and abnormal personality.
Counselor skills would include an awareness of multi-cultural issues.
Counselor skills would include self-awareness, including a sense of their own Shadow as the Jungian's would call it.
I believe that an awareness of my own capacity to wound others is an awareness that allows me to tap a huge pool of energy, which translates to hope and excitement for the client.
In session counselor skills would certainly include communication skills, with a huge focus on the subtlies of listening and attending to non-verbal communication, and the ability to ask questions about non-verbal communications.
As a counselor, I want to be able to communicate hope and enthusiasm and curiosity, and that a solution is imminent.
According to the research, that enthusiasm may be more important than any technique we use.
So my personal experiences in my long life may be of great use to the client.
I can communicate that there is a way through what feels like a morass.
Counseling skills would certainly be enhanced through continuing education, as the field is changing rapidly as tools like fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) enhance our understanding of the human brain.
For example, as a domestic violence educator for the last 11 years, I have seen some incredible developments of our understanding of spousal abuse.
Initially, our model was the traditional feminist model which was much more sociological than psychological, and painted a picture of men as making decisions based on 'patriarchal" training (not psychology, but training) which limited or injured women, including their own daughters.
Over the years, research has cast doubt on that traditional model, and offered alternative interpretations, and now spousal abuse is more frequently viewed as part of a larger issue, family violence, where elder abuse, child abuse, spousal abuse, sibling abuse, and pet abuse are facets of the same issue.
Helen Fisher, Ph.D. has done powerful research on the human experience of love, and has indicated that the feeling of love can be localized to certain brain areas and certain neurotransmitters, with clearly discernible stages.
When I can look inside of myself with a new awareness like the Fisher model of love, I believe I can temper the emotions I am feeling much more easily, rather than letting them drive self or other destructive behaviors.
That is why I think counseling skills would include an effort to stay current in the research about the human brain.
In fact, recent discoveries in regards to neurogenesis (growth of new neurons) and neuroplasticity (the ability your brain has to re-organize itself according to challenge)has led to the creation of a number of new tools to encourage both neuroplasticity and neurogenesis.
Some of those you can buy and install on your computer, and use at home. No need for a counselors office at all, and I think counselor skills should include an awareness of new tools like this.
For an e-book which provides an excellent overview of, please try out
Brainfit for Life, by Simon Evans, Ph.D. and Paul Burghardt, Ph.D., who speak to the need for attention to nutrition, physical exercise. sleep, stress management, and novel challenge to engineer neurogenesis and neuroplasticity.
With an excellent brain, I can make excellent decisions about the direction of my life.
Here are some other tools I have tried which make a positive difference in my brain health.
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