Discuss the Theme of Therapist Competence in Counselling

In this mini-essay I will examine the concept of therapist competence in the context of perfectionism, a theme which runs throughout Kottler’s work. As a newcomer to the field of counselling, and reminiscing on the sheer bulk of technical knowledge that was required to become Chartered in a previous field, interest has definitely been peaked in this area in a quest to discover just how much experience a freshman counsellor might need to amass to be able to mirror   Kottler’s “superpower” status.
Let’s perhaps begin with the question: are therapists miracle workers?   Brogan, Prochaska & Prochaska (1999) report that premature termination after just one session stands somewhere between 20% and 57%, and some 30-60% of clients drop out before the counsellor thinks they should (p. 105). These are rather shocking statistics and present a “formidable assault on a psychotherapist’s fantasy of perfection” (Wittenberg & Norcross, 2001, p. 1544).
Is it ethical however, to swim outside of one’s known territory when it comes to competence, if perhaps it feels possible to make some kind of progress with a new client? Whilst the work of Norcross & Guy (2007) beseeches therapists to stay firmly within their limits and to “relentlessly define who you are and what you do” (p. 103), Kottler (2010) frankly admits that this situation does arise, and, in his chapter on the pretence of perfectionism, discloses agreeing to take on referrals whilst “scanning the bookshelves or the internet for a quick education” (p. 236). As newcomers to the field, if we were to refer every client that we felt was out of our depth, we would certainly enjoy a very light case load! Later in his book Kottler (2010) advocates increasing exposure to uncertain situations, as this is one of the best ways that we can “visit new places with our work” (p. 310), a view upheld by the research   of Jennings, Sovereign, Bottorff, Mysell & Vye (2005) who set-out to establish the ethical values of master...