Personal development is an important aspect of training to become a counsellor, due to the fact that the counsellor must be able to bring about personal growth in others – which necessitates an awareness of oneself. Personal development is also, usually, a professional requirement of counselling governing bodies. The BACP – which is the body whom I will be registering with as part of my training – are one such body. Under their ethical framework, there is a requirement of partaking in supervision – alongside continuing professional development. This resonated with me, as I feel that – due to the highly personal nature of the counselling relationship – it is necessary to ensure that I am the best counsellor I am able to be. I feel this way as I owe it, both to my client and to myself, to be able to work in an effective and safe manner. This is as both self-care and a matter of good practice.  I have found that, by working in accordance with the BACP guidelines, I am continually looking for ways to improve my skills. I readily enrol upon additional courses covering counselling approaches and skills which I would not learn through my standard training. For instance, I have undertaken a course in basic BSL as I feel it would be useful for interacting with clients of limited vocal capability. This has been extremely useful in my career, as I currently provide support for people with a range of mental health issues, learning disabilities, and communication styles. As I have this skill, I feel I am able to communicate more fluidly than I would otherwise be able. Consequently, I am able to work in a more person-centred manner. This is important to me as, whilst I intend to become an integrative psychotherapist, my initial training is from Rogers’ person-centred standpoint. As part of my training, I have been learning about various theories of personal and group development, and have found them to give me a great insight into myself – and help me to develop both as a person and as a counsellor.
One of the first theories of development we have explored on this course is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. This falls under the umbrella of Humanistic approaches, as it emphasises the importance of the person as an individual. This theory is based on the principle that all humans seek to become self-actualised through the satisfaction of a hierarchy of needs and desires. Maslow placed these needs into groupings, and felt that one could only achieve a ‘higher level’ once they had satisfied all of the preceding level. Thus, the theory also became known as Maslow’s Pyramid. Through analysing my own life in respects of this theory, I was surprised to find that I place myself quite highly on the scale. On reflection, however, this correlated with my desire to further my knowledge. I see myself as a lifelong student, as I feel there is always more to learn – not just academically, as I am also drawn to social issues too. So, by completing the exercise, I have come to understand my current life position; additionally I have a greater respect for those privileges which I have in my life (access to education, safe environment, etc). I feel that this will be helpful in my counselling career as I will be able to empathise with those who feel lower on the hierarchy, better than I otherwise would.
Another approach to personal development explored is the ‘Johari Window’. This is something which is typically held to be a simple exercise in itself, but leads to quite profound realisations. This model maps out various personality traits, in order to understand how we present – and perceive – ourselves.

From what I have explored so far, I have discovered a lot about myself; with the effect of feeling more actualised as an individual. I feel more confident in my sense of self, and in my view of the world. This was aided through my own efforts to explore elements of my personality which were uncovered in college sessions, through the use of other development tools. In conclusion, whilst I feel that the path of personal development prescribed on the course is a good starting point, it merely is a segue into independent reflection. Personal development is, by its very name, personal. Thusly requiring an individual to work through it in their own way. This also means that it can be difficult to plan exactly what to work on next. Consequently, I believe that a dynamic development plan would be most effective. This allows any self-discovery to influence what next steps would be appropriate. For instance, discovering an issue which has significant impact on life – but was not in my awareness beforehand – could lead to me placing more focus on exploring that (as opposed to an issue I was exploring beforehand). As a result, attachedis a plan which is appropriate to my current situation, but which could be changed in response to my needs in the future.List of References

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Allen, B. (2005). Personality theories. 5th ed. Philadelphia: Taylor and Francis.

Bond, T. (2010). Standards and ethics for counselling in action. 3rd ed. London: Sage Publications.

Bond, T. and Griffin, G. (2013). BACP Ethical Framework for Good Practice in Counselling & Psychotherapy. online Bacp.co.uk. Available at: https://www.bacp.co.uk/docs/pdf/15512_ethical%20framework%202013.pdf Accessed 10 Jan. 2018.

Dryden, W. (2002). Handbook of individual therapy. 4th ed. London: Sage Publications.

Johns, H. (2012). Personal Development in Counsellor Training. London: Sage Publications.

Self Awareness. (2018). Understanding the Johari Window mode. online Available at: http://www.selfawareness.org.uk/news/understanding-the-johari-window-model Accessed 18 Jan. 2018.

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