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The community art counselling training starts on 18 January 2022

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Section 3: Introducing basic counselling skills, including self-awareness, self-complexity and values

Introducing counselling

Kamal Naran

Community art counsellor

3.1 An overview of basic counselling skills?

Counselling is:

  • Helping others to help themselves
  • Helping them grow in the way that they choose

A counsellor can be holding, digesting and giving back to clients so that they can grow in the same way as a mother bird offers food to her babies. This is just one way we can view the function of a counsellor. 

People who need counselling are usually stressed due to a problem or crisis of some kind. While being stressed in this way is uncomfortable and can be harmful, it also provides an opportunity for growth and change. The person can, however, regress and develop maladaptive ways of coping in difficult situations.

The counsellor’s job is therefore helping the troubled person to grow through the situation. What the counsellor needs to do then, is to create an atmosphere in which the person can find a way of coping with their situation in a manner that is best for them.

The counsellor does this by providing an accepting, caring relationship in which the person can explore their thoughts, feelings, behaviour, and options. At all times in the counselling process the responsibility for growth and change remains with the client; and it is recognised that some people may not be ready to make changes in their lives when the counsellor thinks they should be.

3.2 The aims of counselling 

The aims of counselling include:

  • Reducing tension
  • Resolving conflict together with clients
  • Increasing insight and understanding
  • Increasing self-acceptance
  • Releasing internal resources
  • Providing information when appropriate
  • Assisting the client to make realistic choices (for the client)
  • Improving interpersonal relationships

 

Of course, not all the aims will be achieved in one interview, as counselling is a gradual process.

3.3 Basic counselling skills 

  • SOLER
    S- Sit squarely
    O- Open posture
    L- Lean forward
    E- Eye contact
    R- Relaxed
  • Basic counselling skills
  • Listening skills

The next activities will be done in our Zoom group. Bring your art materials, journal and your expectations about how the group should work.

 

3.4 Group contract and creating a safe space

A group contract is a way of containing a group by giving the members clarity about the group rules and group culture. It is important that group members engage with each other in creating the contract in order to assist them to take ownership of the group and their experience. The group contract sets the tone for the continuation of the group and is a really important element to introduce as you begin your group. In community art counselling we place a lot of emphasis on beginnings and endings and we make sure that they are held carefully and with sensitivity.

  • Photography and social media
    Social media is a valuable part of most of our lives, but it is important to hold issues of confidentiality in mind here too. It is not appropriate to post pictures or statuses of identifying information on ANY social media platforms. This is also important for more official documents.

  • Studio space and storage of artworksWhen doing community art counselling in-person in a studio space, it is vitally important to maintain a safe and cared for space. The responsibility for the maintenance and care of the studio space (keeping it neat and as it was found at the beginning of a session, not destroying the space, cleaning brushes and containers, etc.) can be shared with the participants and included in the group contract.We encourage trainees to keep all the artworks created during the training in a folder or a dedicated shelf for safekeeping.

3.5 Reflective journals 

  • It is very important to document your process as you navigate your journey as a trainee community art counsellor at Lefika La Phodiso. 
  • Lefika La Phodiso encourages all trainees to keep a journal with them and that you, after each session, reflect upon your process, as well as keep any photos or images you might make in the training. 
  • This reflective journal allows you to process your experience and challenges during the training. It gives you time and space to consider what is going on for you internally, as well as externally within the group space, and how you are able to cope with potential shifts or changes. 
  • It is a way of potentially making sense of your process.
  • It is key to the learning process that you are continually engaged in as part of reflective practice – objects can elicit or elaborate who we are. 
  • You should use your reflective journal to expand thoughts and feelings, and dreams.
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