Many people use counselling skills during their working lives. For example a good nurse will listen to the concerns and worries of a sick patient or a college lecturer might have to give one to one tutorials where a students social/home life may be discussed if it is affecting their studies.
‘Psychotherapy is concerned with personality change whereas counselling is concerned with helping an individual change his or her own coping resources’ (Tyler 1967).
Carl Rogers used the term counselling when he was prevented from calling himself a psychotherapist in the USA in the 1920’s (Bond and Shea, 2000). A counsellor will have trained for a minimum of three years to gain a professionally recognised qualification, they will also maintain their knowledge and skills with ongoing professional development and receive sensitive peer supervision.
Whilst other professionals who may use counselling skills in their role such as teachers and victim support officers could benefit from working within the BACP guidelines, they should not call themselves a counsellor without professional accreditation, accreditation will involve undertaking to work within an ethical and professional framework, such as the BACP Ethical Framework for Good Practice in Counselling and Psychotherapy.
Using a framework of good practice rather than a set of strict rules allows a wide range of approaches to suit different cultures and contexts, the BACP’s ethical framework is an in-depth guide to working professionally as a counsellor; it directs attention to some ethical responsibilities:
Clients need to be able to place their trust in their counsellor and know that their confidentiality will be kept by a practitioner demonstrating fidelity; this would be made clear in a contract at the start of any counselling. Explicit contracting before counselling begins should make clear the confidential nature of any disclosure and inform the client of any limitations to confidentiality.