SGPsychStud: For Therapy - The thinker and the observer

As I am recently teaching an introductory class on counselling theories and the skills involved in counselling, this is one of the things I kept emphasizing to my students during the role-play portions of the classes:  They have to develop not only the thinker but also the observer in them.  I believe this is the reason for why you have triads in counselling role-plays.   

To elaborate,  the thinker is a person who is able to think about the issues of the client, analyse them, and to assist the client to come up with the solutions to help him/her with the issues.  This person is analytical, rational, and able to guide clients to their solutions, hence the "thinker".  On the other hand, the observer looks at the client, to empathise and to feel those emotions that the client is feeling, and also to note the emotional/inner conflicts that the client is experiencing (Carl Rogers called it the "incongruence" of the client).  This person is hence empathic, genuine, and a person who provides warmth to the client without any judgement, and these qualities are displayed with the skills of the "observer".  However the state of having both the thinker and observer in one person is very difficult to achieve for a student; it takes time and many counselling skills to build up this two parts of a good therapist.

To be a good therapist or counsellor, it is true that you should have a good knowledge of observation skills, questioning techniques, and active listening skills, the abilities to use these skills, to have this whole range in your arsenal, and modify them according to your own requirements and personality.  However, these skills are just only skills; they are just the starting points of being a good observer.  For a good thinker, you also need to have good knowledge of your own psychological framework and the strategies used through the framework.  

It takes a lot of time and effort to become a good therapist (regardless of which health occupation you are).  With the knowledge and analytical abilities of a good thinker and the empathic understanding and good counselling skills of a good observer, that is when you start your journey as a good therapist. 

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