The Philosophy of Counselling Supervision. An understanding of the ethical working practices as it relates to counselling supervision work.

The Philosophy of Counselling Supervision

Counselling and psychotherapy entail the provision of the client with an opportunity to work, with the assistance of the therapist, towards a better and more satisfying life. This is expected to be undertaken in a meaningful, sustainable and resourceful way that is centred on the abilities and willingness of the client(Kenny & Santacruz 2012, p37). As a counselling session is undertaken, one may be compelled to think that the only players are the counsellor and the client. However, they are always not alone. There are pathways of communication that exist in any counselling that necessitates the involvement of more than one person or a pair in counselling (West 2002, 265). Although there are uninvited guests and intruders in counselling, one invited entity in counselling is the supervisory department. A counsellor will be in contact with a supervisor throughout the session. For a smooth flow of the counselling process, the supervisor, the therapist and the client must interact on a professional platform guided by set standards and rules. These are referred to as the codes of ethics that govern counselling (Gustafson 2014, p216). This paper will explore the importance of ethical practice in counselling about the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy prescribed framework. The paper will make this exploration of the concept of ethical working practices for the supervisor, the therapist, and the client.

The purpose of the supervisor in a counselling session is quite elaborate. In general, the supervisor acts to ensure the welfare of the client during the counselling session and between sessions and also ensure the development of the therapist under supervision. This means therefore that the supervisor advocates for the client’s satisfaction and welfare while still ensuring that the therapist can perform and deliver quality counselling for the client. The therapist on the other land is the supervisee and has the duty to conduct counselling sessions in a way that is squarely in line with the requirements of the profession while still assisting the client to achieve a better life through their efforts(BACP 2016, p3). The therapist, therefore, acts as the midway between the supervisor and the client and interacts directly with both in the counselling session. The client is the recipient of the counselling therapy. Their role is defined by their needs for counselling and their ability to attend the session. They have a direct interaction with the therapist and a rather indirect relationship with the supervisor(Kenny & Santacruz 2012, p245).

The different interactions in a counselling session require a sober and professional relationship. These relationships can only be acquired through a set code of ethics that will govern all the three entities in counselling. The supervisor and the therapist are professionals who are guided by a code of ethics(Daniels 2001). The code demands that the professionals be committed to respecting the rights of their clients in the process of enhancing their wellbeing and capabilities. Further, they are supposed to maintain the dignity of their clients and appreciate their diversity and variety. This ensures that they operate in a healthy relationship with the client and can interact freely through the counselling session to ensure that each of them benefits from the counselling. The ethical framework also demands that the professionals interacted on an ethical platform with the utmost respect for one another and focused on doing good to the patient and not on their personal benefits(Kenny & Santacruz 2012, p). The importance of respect during the counselling session is to ensure that all the people involved have a normal platform of interaction and that none of them feels disregarded or disrespected.

For the supervisors and the therapists, the primary goal of counselling is to achieve a better and more meaningful life for the client. The implication of this is that the supervisors and the therapist must ensure that the rights and security of the client are observed and ensured at all times. It is the duty of the therapist to protect the safety of the clients and be advocates for the rights and safety of the clients(Crocket 2007, p22). The supervisors ensure that this is observed and also advice the therapist on how to go about it. The importance of ensuring the safety of the client is to assure them of a good outcome of the session and also to encourage them to cooperate for successful therapy. In counselling, the client comes to the sessions ill and unhealthy; they are psychologically anxious and vulnerable and are seeking for an environment that would be the opposite of this. When the supervision assures them of respect and security, they are comfortable and able to cooperate with the therapist in ensuring healing(Daniels 2001, p124).

Besides the above commitments, good practice in counselling is guided by several ethical principles. First, the supervisor and the therapist must be trustworthy in the sense that they must always provide factual information and honour the trust that the client places on them. This also requires that they should accept limitations and together with the client look for the way forward instead of attempting something while not ready(ACA 2006, p238). This breaks the trust that the client may have developed on them and leaves the client unable to effectively cooperate in the therapy. Other principles of doing good for the client and avoiding any harm to the client also apply as the commitment to the needs of the client, their safety, and beneficence. Further, the therapists should always ensure that the clients are treated fairly and justly. Impartial treatment of the clients and the provision of all the adequate services including referrals should be ensured and supervised accordingly.  The importance of these principles is that they ensure that the client benefits from the sessions, can interact freely and professionally with the therapist and that they can trust the therapist and depend on them therapeutically(Crocket 2007).

The personal conduct, integrity and the self-respect of the therapist are also a very important consideration in counselling. This relates directly to the ethical framework in that the conduct creates the initial and very crucial impression of the therapist in the eyes of the client. The supervisor must, therefore, ensure that the therapist or the supervisee conducts himself or herself professionally and that the clients do not get the wrong impression of them(Daniels 2001). The supervisors and the therapists must also possess some important personal qualities that allow them to adequately observe the ethical framework and relate efficiently with one another and with the client. These qualities include being responsible and competent to care for the client; possessing the courage to act and guide even when threatened and uncertain; the capacity to feel with the client and observe the situation from their perspective and showing the expected esteem for people and being humble. The importance of these qualities is that they allow the therapist and the supervisor to create an environment for the client that will be comfortable, likable and straight for their healing(BACP 2016, p2).

Although the ethical code of conduct specifically directs the conduct of the supervisors and the therapists towards the client, there are issues that arise from the client’s conduct that may interfere with therapy and the exercise of the professional duties of the therapist and the supervisor(ACA 2006, p238). These issues, therefore, demands a code of ethics is adopted to be followed by the client to ensure the effective relationship between them. Although the code of conduct of the client is not largely discussed in the professional practice, a good work practice has several conventional demands for the client. First, the client must be committed to the therapy in as much as the therapist and the supervisor are(Bond 2004, p17). This ensures the success of the process and healing. Secondly, the client must respect the process, the therapist and the supervisor to get maximum benefit from the exercise. Respecting the professionals who are offering their assistance to the client creates an environment of mutual respect and concern for one another. The implication of this is that all the individuals in the therapy session feel cared for and accepted and this forms the foundation for the achievement of the counselling goals.  Thirdly, the client must be understanding and honest in the counselling session to give the right impression of their problem and allow the professionals to undertake their work well. The importance of this is that the therapist and he supervisor understands the client from the beginning and grow with them towards healing(Kenny & Santacruz 2012, p36).

In conclusion, the philosophy of counselling supervision has very clear guidelines on how the supervisors and the therapists can ethically conduct themselves in the counselling sessions to achieve the most benefits from such sessions(West 2002, p265). For instance, the ethical framework for professional counselling and counselling supervisors demands them to respect themselves and the client and to conduct their practice in a way that benefits rather than harm the client. Also, the therapist the supervisor and the client must create for themselves an environment of mutual respect and concern for one another. This is importance in making the counselling process effective and healthy for all the players.

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