Using a Small-Steps Approach to Counselling

Advanced Certificate in Christian Counselling               Assignment 8                         Judy Watson
  Criterion E3.3
  Using a small-steps approach as a tool to change a counsellee’s behaviour has many advantages: it is relatively easy to understand, gives the counsellee control, is effective in dealing with problems and builds on success, amongst others. Kath*, the mother of two school-aged children, Isabel and Jodie, had been referred to me by her GP at the start of the Easter holidays, because she was feeling ‘low’ and he felt she might benefit from having a health visitor to talk to. As we got to know each other better, Kath revealed that she suffered from agoraphobia and had not been able to walk to the shops or the children’s school for almost a year, but she longed to go out and be a ‘normal’ mum. Isabel was due to leave Primary School the following year, and Kath said she was desperate to go and see her in her last Christmas play there, and to see her younger daughter, Jodie, taking part too. She was afraid that if her husband Ken was away she would not be able to get there –she had tried walking to school with her next-door neighbour Louise a few months previously, but had a panic attack as she stepped outside her front door, and had to go back inside.
  I thought that a small steps approach might be the most effective way to help Kath, and explained it to her. Kath understood that this was a way to help her make a start on overcoming her problem, and said she was willing to try it, provided she had support. We talked about who she could ask to provide the support she needed, and she decided that Ken, Louise, and I would each have a part to play. The strength of the small-steps approach was that it not only gave Kath control, but also encouraged her to involve co-workers such as family and/or friends in the process, increasing the possibility of success.
  Another strength of the step-by-step approach is that the counsellee ‘owns’ the...