How do the roles of consultant, consultee, and client differ? Give two examples of how these roles can change depending on the job.
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Consultation is a helping relationship in which mental professionals either work with individuals or groups in various settings to help them work more effectively or face a certain problem that might be of concern to them. In the consultation process, there are usually three parties which are involved: the consultant, consultee, and the client. These people play different roles in the consultation process as it is indicated below.
The role of the consultant is to understand thoroughly the stages in consultation such as: how to identify the problem, how to analyze the problem, and also how to assess and treat the problem among other factors and then guide the consultee through these steps. The consultant achieves this by providing a standardized interview format during the interaction with the consultee. The consultant provides the required pertinent information and makes resources available to the consultee. Other roles of the consultant are usually less explicitly defined. It is important to note that the consultant does not exercise direct authority over the consultee nor does he or she establish a direct relationship with the client. However, it is always the role of the consultant to ensure that the consultee provides service that will benefit the client (Dougherty, 2005).
The consultee engages in four kinds of activities during the consultation. The role of the consultee involves several activities which include: specifying the problem to the consultant and then describing the problem as this form the initial process of evaluating the decision-making process of the problem at hand. The decisions are usually those related to whether or not a satisfactory solution has been obtained to provide to the client. While the consultee consults the consultant, the client consults the consultee thus the consultee works with the client in implementing the program. The consultee also supervises the activities of the client to see how he or she is responding.
The client’s main role is usually changing the direction of the goals established during the consultation process. In this case, the client is expected to participate in establishing the goals of consultation and also in designing and implementing plans, which can aid in the achievement of the goals (Kratochwill, & Shapiro, 1990).
What type of research can consultants use to enhance their effectiveness?
There are three types of research through which consultants can conduct their research and they are: causal, descriptive, and relational research. The choice of any of the following methods depends on the situation that faces the consultant and the advantages and limitations involved with the choice made.
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Causal research involves researching while investigating the effect of one or more related variables for the expected outcome variables. The research determines if one variable leads to the outcome of a certain variable and what would happen if modifications were made on the variable. An example of a causal and effect research would entail altering the amount of time spent on treatment of a problem and then measuring the effects of the sample.
The second type of conducting research which I as a consultant can use is the descriptive method of research. As a consultant, if I could use this method it would be to depict or establish what already exists in a group or population and then describe it when analyzing the results. From the descriptions, I can then be able to give the way forward depending on what has been done on similar cases; as a consultant, I would try to investigate the relationship between two or more variables. The variables should already be in the population and then try to investigate the relevance of one variable compared to the other (Hughes &Hall, 1989).
Explain How A Consultant Can Develop An Effective And Efficient Psychological Contract With The Client And Consultee.
During the progress of the project, the nature and the magnitude of the problem can change with other priorities becoming more urgent. The client’s capabilities and perceptions or better ways of solving the problem can also evolve thus it is expected that a professional consultant doesn’t have to insist on continuing with the job when his services are no longer required causing unnecessary expenses to the client thus it is always important to set a contract.
Whatever form of contract the consultant agrees to, it should contain provisions specifying how and in which conditions the consultant or the client can withdraw from the contract or can be revised or be modified. Most of the time, it is usually advisable for the parties involved to enter contracts by phases and delay a decision on the supposed work to follow until more and further information has been collected and analyzed.
Under what circumstances can resistance in the consultation are seen as positive? Describe ways for the consultant to effectively deal with resistance.
Resistance during consultations occurs due to various reasons ranging from consultant ineptness to being a function of the consultee. The major problem of resistance inhibits positive consultations. Sometimes resistance is positive since it gives the consultant the feel about the issue. The positive aspects of resistance are that sometimes it also reflects a problem in the relationship that cannot be blamed on either side in particular. To overcome the resistance during the consultation, as a consultant, I would apply a social psychological principle that is consistent with the cognitive-behavioral theory regardless of who is right and who is at fault: The conflict resolution theory and the psychological reactance theory.
The conflict resolution theory occurs when both parties act in a cooperative manner in which the conflict is likely to be overcome. With there being less probability of solving a problem by competing against each other, the consultant promotes a cooperative interchange with both parties assuming that some positive outcome will occur when the two parties interact. A cooperative relationship enhances trust and openness in communication thus making the conversation easy.
As a consultant, I can also apply the psychological reactance theory whenever the client feels that one of his behaviors are either threatened or eliminated. The positive aspect of the psychological reactance is the fact that it is a motivational condition that simply seeks to maintain or restore the threatened free behavior. With the reaction of individuals depending on many factors, as a consultant, I would improvise ways of minimizing and suppressing the reaction. By maintaining collaborative joint decision making, the likelihood of reactance reaction is reduced, hence the importance of maintaining the collaborative nature of the consultation process.
Under what circumstances should consultants use formal contracts?
A written formal contract may be required for several reasons. One, it can be a basic requirement where the law requires the signing of a formal contract that has clear guidelines and regulations of what is expected of each party. It is very advisable to always use a formal contract when the consultant is dealing with large and complex assignments involving many people on both the client and the consultant side. The consultant should obtain the contract from the lawyer, then take it to his or her lawyer and keep it in mind when preparing the proposals for the assignment. The prepared proposals should be formulated in such a way that they are incorporated within the body of the contract or attached to the main contract as a form of modification.
The main purpose of contracting is usually to provide a clear orientation for joint work and protect the rights of all involved parties. Since the conditions of the agreement may change, it is always advisable to study the contract well and ensure all loopholes are sealed at the same time agreeing on the positions which can be extended or modified in case a change of the situation occurs.
Which methods of gathering information would you be the most likely to use? Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each method.
As a consultant, one can gather the required information from several sources which include records, memories, and also events and conditions. Any of these sources may vary either by being internal or external to the organization.
Records are usually facts stored in forms that are readable or can be transcribed. They may be accessed from computers, files, films, tapes, drawings pictures among others. Events and conditions are actions and the circumstances surrounding them that were obtained through information. The other source is from memories which are usually stored in the minds of people in the organization and who can convey the information to the consultant.
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Retrieving information from these different sources requires different gathering methods. Information from records can be easily studied and managed due to their easy way of access. However, the limitation of using such information lies in the fact that recorded information can be altered, and thus it is not reliable for giving a clear picture about the situation and this might lead to wrong advice being offered. The records can also have detailed descriptions of methods that were abandoned the wrong time ago. The information can also be gathered through special recording. The assisting staff helps in gathering the information and then passes the information to the consultant. To save costs involved, such recording should be kept simple and last no longer than the necessary time for its reliability.
Observation is another method through which the consultant can gather the needed information. During the consulting process, the consultant may observe management and staff meetings during which it might be possible to identify group processes and behaviors related to the problem in question. Because most people feel uncomfortable under scrutiny, it may not be that easy to observe the behaviors of the target group or individuals. The consultant should explain the purpose of the survey and explain to the people being observed that the survey is only aimed at obtaining reliable information on how certain activities are performed. The problem with this method is the fact that such a situation can force the target population to change their normal way of life thus giving out a picture opposite to the expected.
Questionnaires are another method through which information can be gathered. Most of the time, questionnaires are preferred when one is seeking for straight forward facts from a large population. They are usually distributed to the respondents to be collected on the same day or at a later date after completion. Rather than being simple, most questionnaires fail to capture the real situation since the questions are direct and short.
The last method through which a consultant can gather information is through interviews. One major advantage of using an interview over a questionnaire is the fact that any answer given can be tested or elaborated during the time of the interviews and thus high chances are obtaining credible information. The questions asked usually supplement and support each other confirming, correcting, or even contradicting a previous situation. Interviews also sometimes lead to revealing unexpected relationships. The major disadvantage of using interviews is that they are time-consuming as well as expensive and require close concentration by all the parties involved.
How would you as a consultant choose an appropriate organizational intervention?
As a consultant, to choose the best organization intervention method, I would first consider the needed facts and then embark on team building. This intervention method is based on the assumption that the fundamental factor in changing individual and organizational behavior is to get people working together in groups. The team-building approach focuses on how the team functions rather than on the content area of the team. The problem or the task to be solved is introduced slowly that the atmosphere is conducive for moving on.
Under what circumstances would you monitor a consultee’s intervention of a plan? How would you monitor it?
If the consultee seems to overlook issues of integrity, then as the consultant I would have to intervene especially if the consultee ignores the central components of the project. I would use graphing intervention to cross-check all the agreed procedures which are supposed to be followed and ensure that they are followed to the book. The only problem with this method is that it is time-consuming and requires multiple processes that necessitate fidelity to ensure the validity of the proposed method.
What type of follow-up would you use? How would you arrange for it?
As a consultant, I would use telephone calls to follow up on how the program is progressing and following a more integrated approach where I would be making calls monthly during the first six months and then go on extending the period between follow-ups until the time I am comfortable the project worked. I would also sometimes visit the organization to check on the progress of the individuals whom I was investigating and analyze whether the guidelines I proposed are working and where modifications are required I can advise the consultee and their clients on what is needed.
Which 10 skills are most needed by consultants to increase the chances that the diagnosis stage will be successful?
Among the most desired quality is professionalism where in this case, the consultant should always ensure that he or she observes professionalism. The client-consultant relationship should always remain at professional levels.
Managing time efficiently is another skill the consultant should always possess. As a consultant, one should always look for a time even if it means readjusting his or her schedule to accommodate the overall requirements of the project because if the consultant leaves the project half way, the project can fall and another attempt at solving the problem would mean starting from level one again. As a consultant, one ought to hold good judgment skills to deal with problems as they come. Most of the time, correct judgment is needed as it helps one not jump to conclusions. Consideration of the facts and feedback processes from peers and other people is required before a consultant jumps to a conclusion.
The fourth skill that a consultant should possess is that of being a team player. Willingness to learn from peers and those who are more knowledgeable than them allows them to tackle every problem that may appear. Possession of good communication skills is another basic skill. The consultants should have both excellent oral and written social skills. The ability to understand the language most conversant with our clients is a huge boost towards the achievement of positive results. Expert knowledge possession is another quality as a consultant I should possess. When a client comes to me, he or she expects me to have more expertise than the resources available in the organization. Since most clients do not possess enough time to solve their problems, or even implant their projects, we as consultants should possess broad and diverse knowledge which enables us to know when to ask the question and when not to. We can achieve this by keeping ourselves update with journal materials and other informative materials to ensure that we always remain helpful to our clients. We should therefore know when and how to apply the psychological theories and possess skills of using the appropriate tools in solving the problems that present them. Possession of good listening skills is another desired quality required from a consultant. It is important to note that during one’s career as a consultant, one will meet different people with different characteristics and while some might be open, others will tend to be reticent thus it is very important to possess excellent listening skills and always encourage talking freely as more information is likely to be shared out.
Understanding our roles and responsibilities as consultants is another important skill that we ought to arm ourselves with. With the different clients we are likely to be faced with, it is always important as a consultant for one to clarify what the clients expect from you before undertaking the project. Since the consultant will bring out the recommendations it is important to be well aware of what the client is paying you for. It is thus important to inform the clients what you can do and what you can’t before starting the job.
The involvement of other consultants in your job and assignments is always very important. Since as a consultant I might not know everything, saying I don’t know won’t ruin my career but will help you in making it grow.
Finally, as consultants, we should always protect our reputation in whatever job we are doing. Always walk away from situations and scenes which can destroy your reputation because once destroyed it’s never easy to rebuild a damaged reputation. This is because consultation doesn’t only involve contracting it touches on other issues (e.g responsibility). Always be selective for the clients you chose to work for (Ramakrishnan, 2011).
Dougherty, A.M. (2005). Psychological Consultation and Collaboration in School and Community Settings 4th ed. New York: Brooks/Cole Thomson Learning.
Hughes, J.N., and Hall, J.R. (1989). Cognitive-Behavioral Psychology in the Schools: A Comprehensive Handbook. New York: Guilford Press.
Kratochwill, T.R., and Shapiro, E.S. (1990). Behavioral Consultation in Applied Settings: An Individual Guide. New York: Springer Publishers.
Ramakrishnan, N. (2011). 10 Winning Qualities of Consultants. Web.