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What does 'supporting change' mean?

Counselling as a therapy and therapeutic process does not provide a cure to a person’s mental illness nor aims to solve life’s challenges. However, counselling can help improve a person’s quality of life whether this means exploring relationship issues or perception of self as one gets older or coping with a disability or chronic health condition. Some other ways of ‘doing’ change in counselling are described in List 1 (AIFS, 2016).  A therapist may use a number of counselling therapies or approaches in working with a person through their problem or challenge and in that process, facilitate self-understanding for their client.  

List 1 : What makes a difference in promoting change in counselling?

Positive expectations and hope

Relationship factors (trust, caring)

Disclosure/ processing of content

Permission to explore new areas

Telling personal story

Feeling understood and heard

Emotional arousal

Emotional regulation

Facing fears

Constructive risk taking

Reduction of stress

Honestly and directness

Rehearsal of new skills

Task facilitation

New insights and understandings

Sensitive confrontation

Challenging dysfunctional beliefs

Suggestions for problem solving

Focus on present, past and future

Modelling of new behaviours

Creation of meaning

Public commitment of intentions

Social support

Reframed narrative

New options and alternatives

Secondary gains eliminated

Responsibility for consequences

New resources accessed

New solutions generated

Understanding past behaviour

Future planning

Interpretation of behaviour

Tolerance of ambiguity

Tolerance of complexity

Inviting feedback

Responding to feedback

Flexible adjustments over time

Integrity and mutual respect

Follow up and accountability