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Reflection in Professional Counselling Practice


Notion of reflection is something that is respectably a part of counselling and affects the way one view issues. The personality of the person concerned thus affects how the popular ideal will be meted out. To notion of reflection is largely responsible for the adherence or flouting of the law and compulsions. Whether or not the law of counselling is adhered depends not only on the personal efficacy but also on the propensity of the individual to adhere to counselling education. Counsellor will look for these patterns and hence attempt to construe them as a natural process by way of due process. In other words, the virtues are created not because it is culturally representative, but because it follows a specific order or pattern.

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It is always very important to understand the main reason as to why you should attend counselling and whatever you are going to gain from it. Indeed professional counselling is not the same as just talking to any family member because it involves a trained counsellor who is able to speak on what is on your mind. In counselling, the counsellor tries to come up with questions that help in approaching the issue at hand so as to reach the solution (Milton, 1993).

Notion of reflection Relationship to Personality

According to Mangal (1988), Bandura and Richard Walters were responsible for giving the psychology world the social learning theory. What this theory stresses is that one’s personality is a product of the continuous process of structuring and restructuring. Herein, social learning enables this process—a particular kind of learning by observation of other individuals regarded as models. The theory of social learning sees the initiation, learning and production of behaviours by as occurring at a later stage (Mangal, 1988 p.268).

Bandura’s social learning theory, along with other learning theories, is considered a personality theory of socialization. Social learning or social cognitive theories in general are notable for helping in the understanding of how young individuals undergo socialization in regards to the process of accepting society’s values and standards (Grusec, 1992).

As a socialization personality theory, Bandura’s social learning theory is viewed as a continuous process involving the elaboration and modification of new standards, as well as the adoption of new ones. Herein, individuals, children in particular, learn through repeated observation of their parents, other adults, siblings, or peers, and even the considerable symbolic modelling found in projections in the mass media (Bandura, 1989).

While Bandura’s social learning theory is a theory of social development, it represents a new approach to the study of development (Grusec, 1992; Mangal, p. 268). The theory presents a certain personality perspective that is a mix of the contemporary stress on the processes of cognition and a social-context study of the individual (Carducci, 2009,p. 426). In its emphasis on observational learning, the theory sees personality development and formation, which should be unique to every individual, as emanating from multiple modelling sources from whom s/he picks many behavioural modes and traits (Mangal, 1998, p. 268).

Observational learning in the modelling process involves four components, each of which figure in either acquiring information about rules or events or in deciding how to apply the information to behaviour. First, the events being modelled, whether actual or symbolic as in the case of television programs, should be paid attention to by the observer. Attention, in turn, is affected by model’s attractiveness, power, and favourable conditions (Smith, Thomas and Jackson, 2004). Retention is the second component because only when the modelled even is kept in the observer’s memory can learning become possible. The third component is the conversion of symbolic representations into actions similar those that have been modelled. The last component involves motivational factors tha should encourage the observer to perform the modelled behaviour (Grusec, 1992, pp. 781-782).

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To explain the shifting of behavioural control from environmental sources toward the individual, Bandura came up with the concept of “self-regulation” and “self-efficacy.” The psychologist sees human behaviour as rather stable vis-a-vis temporary influences, kept in place by some ideological beliefs they subscribe to. People supposedly act based on judgmental self-reactions, with actions being judged as positive or negative according to some internal measures or standards (Grusec, 1992, p. 782).

The concept of modelling enters in the idea of self-regulative function. Children imitate model’s self-evaluative standards, applying them to others as well as themselves. Additionally, socialization agents reinforce the self-regulation of children (Grusec, 1992, p. 782).

Related to self-regulation is the concept of self-efficacy that views the development of domain-specific ideas or beliefs as providing a structure for the judging of information. This concept refers to the determination of whether or not an individual is able to well apply his or her leaning or knowledge (Grusec, 1992, p. 782).

Life’s circumstances on the other hand contribute to the lowest percentage of one’s reflection. Some of life’s circumstances include the cultural or national locality in which one lives as well as one’s personal history and social status. One usually has little or no control over these circumstances. This finding illustrates the fact that if one puts different people under the same conditions and circumstances, the reduction of their reflection levels will be minimal. The fact that life’s circumstances play such a minimal role in reflection can be explained by hedonic adaptation or hedonic treadmill. This is the tendency of people to adapt quickly to life’s negative or positive changes to achieve a stable level of reflection. The implication of hedonic adaptation is that favourable changes in wealth, social status and health will make one happy, but only for a short time; then one becomes used to their new status and the happiness goes. Keeping this in mind, it is reasonable to conclude that constant happiness is an unrealistic goal in one’s life.

Since people cannot change their genetic make-up and life’s circumstances play a minimal role in our reflection, one should strive to do those things that bring personal reflection. How one handles the negative aspects of life determines their levels of happiness. For this reason, people should not dwell on their problem areas in life because this will generate negative feelings. They should instead acknowledge their problems and then consider the positive options available depending on the situation. A person should intentionally avoid comparing him/herself with others. Most people have a façade that portrays them positively, but hide the aspects of their lives that portray them negatively. People should therefore strive to utilize their strengths as they minimize the effects of their weaknesses on their lives (Al-Eidan, McElnay, Scott and McConnell, 2002).

Epigrammatic exploration of confidentiality in behavioural counselling and the learning mechanisms for that contribution, one will offer a few course of actions for the conduct of decision-making counselling. Ethical guiding principles counsellor in decision making counselling involve taking into consideration all possible alternatives, maintaining reinforcement for the implementation of an alternative until the customer has unreservedly chosen one, perhaps referring a client to another counsellor if he or she is strongly against or supports one of many adaptive options (as a result of idiosyncratic utilities), only intervening when an option is perceptibly maladaptive or unethical, and considering the preference of the counsellor as secondary information rather than as the proper course of action(Eriksson and Nilsson, 2000).

Another intriguing issue in my course of work is confidentiality. Confidentiality refers the ethical principle where a profession (in this case a counsellor) gets some privileged information from a client but he or she cannot divulge or disclose to third parties (O’Neil., Levin & Furlong, 2003 and Bennetts, 2003). Later on, we shall discover that confidentiality can be countered in situations where the public interest of others people need protection from harm. However, there are stringent penalties for its violation. One understands that clients usually consider ones’ professionalism before seeking help. Professionalism is a vital quality in the provision of services to clients; however, diverging personal and confidential information to third parties without permission affects it (Spurgeon, Hicks, Barwell, Walton and Spurgeon, 2005 and Bozarth, 1991; McLeod and Machin, 1998). Any action and deed including counselling need to be evaluated for the following reasons:

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  • Competence determination as far as counselling is concerned
  • To gauge the strength of your counselling and if it has an impact on someone’s life.
  • Evaluation of the performance as a counsellor helps in offering support and mentoring
  • It also helps in one to improve his counselling through different skills.
  • Evaluation also enables one to scrutinize his counselling experience.

The main aim of engaging a client to counselling session is to make him not feel unworthy and a liability to the family. One wants to change her perception so that she could still feel important as much as she did not have a job. Indeed one manages to develop an environment that makes client trust him thus helping one to come up with schemes and a work plan that helps client to accept herself as she is (Nelson, 2003; Malfair , de Lemos, Jang, Man, Annable, Mithani, 2008).

Ethics in counselling

There are certain ethical issues to be considered in decision making. In the first place decisions are must be made objectively, fairly and with consideration for people’s feelings, what has come to be known as the psychological contract. History and previous situations similar or dissimilar to the current one should also be considered. Ideally, facts from all possible perspectives should be sought, bearing in mind the long and short term consequences of the decision. The decision maker should resist the temptation to be arrogant, or to justify certain decisions on the basis of religious persuasion. Sound decisions should be create harmony, be based on objectivity and reflect the decision maker’s detachment (Blanchard & Peale 1988; Mulhauser, 2009).

Authorities have sought to use various models in explaining ethics in decision making. Such models must consider the magnitude of the consequences, the social consensus and the probability effect. They should also have temporal immediacy, proximity and concentration effect. The normative ethics theories explain how decisions are made. Some ethical values considered under normative theories include egotist, relativist, Kantian, utilitarian, libertarian, justice and Rawlsian theories. Descriptive ethical theories explain the process used by decision makers to make decisions. Decision Sciences models are used for making or recommending decisions that could be made in certain situations. This is done after careful analysis of a number of variables within the environment. These are rather prescriptive models, focusing on procedural guides and decision aids. The Petrick-Guinn Integrity Capacity Model provide the framework for understanding behaviour, legal, moral and economic business variables that have an impact on both the individual and the group (Laungani, 1997). The models must have integrity in four main areas such as process integrity capacity, judgment integrity capacity, development integrity capacity and systems integrity capacity (Whittier, Willaims & Dewett 2006 and O’Neil, Levin, & Furlong, 2003).

Morality and counsellor

Morality deals with the assessment of facts and placing value judgment on situations. The decision maker is called upon to ascertain whether a situation involves ethical issues, identify the values attached to that situation, posses the necessary skills for assessing whether the choice taken in the situation is morally sound or not. He should also be able to determine if, given the circumstances, the choice made is morally acceptable or not. An individual’s moral abilities must combine with his other abilities such as reasoning skills in order to make sound judgment. He not only considers other people’s degree of morality, but his too (Lawson & Venart, 2005 and Peterson, 1999).

Moral imagination is crucial in discerning various possible ways of acting in a given circumstances and identifying how helpful or harmful the actions or choices made could be in the given situation. The desire to be moral motivates individuals to act in ways that are ethical, on the assumption that this is the best way of investing in a given situation. A number of abilities such as empathy for others, honesty, integrity and so on form a strong link in completing one’s moral identity. Moral imagination enables individuals to rationally take responsibility for the outcome of their behaviour, but taking ownership of that responsibility and owning it (Frick, 1991 and Rowland, Godfrey, Bower, Mellor-Clark, Heywood, & Hardy, 2000).


Notion of reflection therefore only forms part of the intricate process of counselling. One notes that there are correlation between notion of reflection and counselling that date back to one of the forefathers of counselling. It is realistic to say that notion reflection builds the foundations of the modern counselling in terms of his positivist and functionalist beliefs (Rennie, 2004 and D’Rozario & Romano, 2000).

Reference List

Al-Eidan, F. A., McElnay, J. C., Scott, M. G., & McConnell, J. B. (2002). Management of Helicobacter pylori eradication–the influence of structured counselling and follow-up. British journal of clinical pharmacology, 53(2), 163-171.

Bandura, A. (1989). Social cognitive theory. In R. Vasta (ed.), Annals of child development. Vol. 6. Six theories of child development (pp. 1-60). Greenwich, CT: JAI Press. Web.

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Bennetts, C. (2003). Self-Evaluation and Self-Perception of Student Learning in Person-Centered Counseling Training within a Higher Education Setting. British Journal of Guidance & Counselling, 31(3), 305-323.

Bozarth, J. D. (1991). Rejoinder: Perplexing perceptual ploys. Journal of Counselling and Development, 69(5), 466-468.

Carducci, B. (2009). The Psychology of personality: viewpoints, research, and applications. London: Wiley-Blackwell.

D’Rozario, V., & Romano, J. L. (2000). Perceptions of Counsellor effectiveness: A Study of Two Country Groups. Counselling Psychology Quarterly, 14, 51-63.

Eriksson, I., & Nilsson, K. (2000). Preconditions needed for establishing a trusting relationship during health counselling – an interview study. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 17, 2352-2359.

Frick, W. (1991). Personality theories: journeys into self: an experiential workbook. London: Teachers College Press.

Grusec, Joan. (1992). Social learning theory and development: The legacies of Robert Sears and Albert Bandura. Developmental Psychology 28.5: 776-786.

Laungani, P. (1997). Replacing client-centered counseling with culture-centered counseling. Counseling Psychology Quarterly, 10(4), 341-343.

Lawson, G., and Venart, B. (2005). Preventing counselor impairment: Vulnerability, wellness, and resilience. In G.R. Waltz & R.K. Yep (Eds.), VISTAS: Compelling perspectives on counseling 2005. Alexandria, VA: American Counseling Association.

Malfair Taylor, S. C., de Lemos, M. L., Jang, D., Man, J., Annable, D., Mithani, S., et al. (2008). Impact on patient satisfaction with a structured counseling approach on natural health products. J oncol pharm practice, 14, 37-43.

Mangal, S.K. (1988). General psychology. New York: Sterling Publishers Pvt. Ltd.

McLeod, J., & Machin, L. (1998). The context of counseling: A neglected dimension of training, research and practice. British Journal of Guidance & Counseling, 26(3), 325-336.

Milton, M. J. (1993). Existential thought and client centered therapy. Counseling Psychology Quarterly, 6(3), 239-248.

Mulhauser, G. (2009). An Introduction to Person-Centered Counseling.

O’Neil, M., Levin, C & Furlong, A. (2003). Confidentiality: Ethical perspectives and clinical dilemmas. New York: Routledge

O’Rorke, Kevin. (2006). Social Learning Theory & Mass Communication. ABEA Journal, Vol. 25. Web.

Peterson, A. (1999). Counseling the genetically ‘at risk’: the poetics and politics of ‘non-directiveness’. Health, Risk & Society, 1(3), 253-265.

Rennie, D. L. (2004). Reflexivity and Person-centered Counseling. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 44, 182.

Rowland, N., Godfrey, C., Bower, P., Mellor-Clark, J., Heywood, P., & Hardy, R. (2000). Counseling in Primary Care: A Systematic Review of the Research Evidence. British Journal of Guidance & Counseling, 28(2), 215-231.

Smith, S. A., Thomas, S. A., & Jackson, A. C. (2004). An Exploration Of The Therapeutic Relationship And Counseling Outcomes In A Problem Gambling Counseling Service. Journal of Social Work Practice, 18(1), 99-112.

Spurgeon, P., Hicks, C., Barwell, F., Walton, I., & Spurgeon, T. (2005). Counseling in primary care: A study of the psychological impact and cost benefits for four chronic conditions. European Journal of Psychotherapy, Counseling and Health, 7(4), 269-290.

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