A Rationale for Personal Development Within Counselling

Self development and self awareness are important elements in counsellor training because these processes, which are often difficult and painful, enable the trainee to understand themselves more fully.   In the course of attending to our own needs in such a way as to increase our ability to be with our clients in a way that is not only safe for both parties but which incrementally improves our effectiveness (Mearns 1999).

The BACP ethical framework, outlines six ethical principles which govern counselling practice and eleven personal moral qualities which counsellors are strongly encouraged to aspire towards. The ethical framework incorporates a number of references to self development and its importance to good practice.   Embodied within the terms “competence”, “fitness to practise” and self-respect”, self-care and self development is both an explicit demand and a responsibility of all counsellors (BACP, 2007).

The self is the counsellors principle tool and it is therefore incumbent on the counsellor to develop and maintain the self. Within self development self care of the mind, body and spirit are essential.   Risks of burnout and impairment are high for counsellors (Lambie, 2006). Lambie states “Burnout is a form of impairment that affects all aspects of a counsellor’s functioning, not just his or her professional abilities” (Lambie, p.32, 2006). Implementing and maintaining a personalised self-care plan is essential. Care for self can be conceptualised as practices we use to renew and energise ourselves. Indeed, Skovholt (2001) suggests, that self care is the process by which we continually replenish sources that sustain us.   Self care practices for the mind could be knowing your limits, counselling, self hypnosis, social support, music/books, lectures, companionship, holiday/relaxation, satisfying work/hobbies, intellectual growth and challenge, laughter.  

Suggestions for self care for the body could include a healthy diet, proper sleep, vitamins and...