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  • Writer's pictureLeana and Andrew

Person centred workplace counselling

Updated: May 28, 2020

Amongst the wide variety of issues that clients talk to us about at HeadScape Counselling, we are very privileged to hear and learn about people’s experiences at work. This includes all that they enjoy, get excited about and look forward to. It also includes their difficulties, rejections, conflicts – even what they might be dreading about work.

A new year, or decade as it happens this time around, sometimes evokes a desire for new work goals, change of work circumstances and career development ambitions. Even when change is from personal choice rather than enforced seemingly out of one’s control, transition from one situation to another has its challenges and can be stressful.

When changes at work are experienced and considered in the moment, they can often seem and feel uncomfortable, even painful. Counsellors and psychotherapists may refer to a theory of loss to help with the understanding of any discomfort. Retrospectively, some people often reflect on that discomfort and say, “What was all the fuss about?”. Changes at work can also evoke feelings about past change and loss. That can feel good, stressful and all points in between.

Most modern sizeable organisations are well equipped to manage and support processes of change. They can be proactive about and effective at changing how they are set up functionally, especially in the ways that they change structure, form and even purpose to meet the demands of the organisation itself and or the needs of customers. Learning about change management is often provided by organisations in order to support people through change. However, those same organisations are not always equipped to support the effect of change on or by some individuals. Organisations sometimes forget that there is a human price to pay with structural change. As people change roles for example, the necessary care of people can be overlooked in the excitement and organisational drive for change. Existing effective and enjoyable working relationships within teams and departments can be broken up. Also, new bosses bring new expectations and different requirements of people. Although required, these kinds of changes may not be welcome by some.

Examples of progressive well-being packages are appearing in the HR contracts of some organisations. For example, at Gunderson Dettmer, a U.S. law firm, ten sessions of counselling per year for all staff are included in the employment contract. Not surprisingly at present, these types of packages seem to exist with wealthy companies. Many organisations choose not to allocate resources to these levels although many do provide health care insurance to varying degrees.

Support for staff in the form of counselling and psychotherapy can be and is in many cases provided in-house – both routinely and as a response to specific needs. However, sometime the issues that affect or concern people are best supported externally. For example, in the case of safeguarding issues, protecting confidentiality in the line management structure and in respecting the need for absolute privacy.

When work is dissatisfying (or worse) in the various ways that it can be, including because of unwanted change, it’s often helpful to picture a better scenario for yourself, however simple that may look, and then work out what small steps you can take to start to change things for the better. Doing this work with a counsellor is a good way of going about it. Participating in a so- called talking therapy is an ideal way to hear and better understand your own thoughts and feelings, especially when the therapist has a person-centred approach as his / her core approach. Vocalising one’s thoughts and ideas about experiences of and thoughts about self and the workplace and hearing

those thoughts ‘replayed’ by a counsellor enables reflection and the organisation of thoughts. In turn this can lead to a plan of action i.e. your own planned change. A skilled person-centred counsellor will only work with you and your thoughts and feelings. His / her ideas may be stimulated by what you vocalise, but they are not relevant to change ambitions borne out of your experiences at work.

With person-centred workplace counselling you are likely to feel that you have been helped or facilitated in the sessions and you can see that the material outcome of them is clearly your own. Other developmental and therapeutic modalities and techniques e.g. cognitive behavioural therapy and coaching have a role to play in workplace counselling, but they are likely to bring a pre-planned structure to your counselling experience or indeed include significant direction by the counsellor.

Much of our adult lives are spent at work. We believe positive and healthy working cultures are achievable to us and that if we pay attention to ourselves, colleagues and environments at work, wanted working cultures can be realised. At HeadScape Counselling, we are very keen to support people who are dissatisfied with, challenged or confronted by or feel discomforted in their workplace. We are very experienced and successful in doing so. Please contact us to discuss.

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