Gerard Egan published the first edition of “the Skilled Helper” in 1975. He added to the concepts of Carl Rogers by putting together a concept on helping based on skills required at different stages, which became known as “Three stage counseling model”. Egan believed that the core conditions of Empathy, Congruence and unconditional positive regard which Carl Rogers initially identified maybe necessary but are not sufficient. Within this essay I am going to demonstrate my knowledge of the core conditions and how these are used within Egan’s Three-Stage Counseling Model.
This is being able to enter the clients own world by stepping into their shoes and being with them from moment to moment. By reflecting back what the client has said and staying with them at their own pace. An empathic listener is able to perceive the clients thoughts, feeling, behaviours and experiences like they were their own. It is important for the listener to recognize their own feelings as they may have shared the same experience as the client however their feelings would have been different from the client as each individual sees things differently, this is called identification and not empathy.
Rogers 1975 (resource material COSCA 2011)
“entering the private perceptual world of the other and becoming thoroughly at home in it” “communicating your sensings of his/her world as you look with fresh and unfrightened eyes at elements of which the individual is afraid”.
This is when the counsellor is being genuine and open with the client and able to disclose what he/she is really thinking and feeling in an honest way. This allows the client to see the counsellor as a real person and can enable the client to feel safe enabling them to be more honest with the counsellor, and more likely to grow in a positive way. Egan 1986 (resource material COSCA 2011)
“genuine people being at home with themselves in all their interactions. They are spontaneous, assertive, consistent and non defensive when threatened”.
Unconditional Positive Regard
Accepting and respecting the client with a non judgmental attitude at all times, being warm and caring no matter what the client discloses. This does not mean the counsellor approves of their behavior, it merely means they see them as equal human beings. Rogers 1996 (Margaret Hough, Counseling skills and Theory)
“Clients are valued without any conditions attached, even when they experience themselves as negative, bad or frightened”.
These core conditions are essential throughout the counselling process, as they will naturally help to build a rapport between the counsellor and the client. It is important that the client feels valued from the beginning as this will help them to open up, once a mutual trust and respect has been established. In addition, with unconditional positive regard, the client must feel that they can discuss any subject without fear of being judged. Allowing the client to progress in their own way, to becoming their own “self”. Egan’s Three-Stage Model is a solution focused way of working with clients who are struggling to cope with difficult situations or feel they are not living to their full potential. Effective listening is paramount within a helping relationship which involves many skills one of which is the SOLER position. S- Sit squarely
O- Open posture
L- Lean towards client
E- Eye contact with client not staring but looking interested in what they are saying R- Relax
This is an important skill in active listening as it shows the client he/she has the counsellors full attention and the counsellor is able to observe both verbal and non verbal communication such as body language, facial expressions. Egan Stage 1- By incorporating the Core Conditions of Empathy, Congruence and Unconditional Positive Regard, the counsellor builds a non
judgemental warm and trusting relationship with the client. Enabling the counsellor to help the him/her tell their story, exploring new perspectives and becoming aware of any blind spots which are affecting unused opportunities. Exploring Skills used in stage one
Communicating empathy, Congruence and Unconditional Positive Regard Attention
Paraphrasing and Reflecting
Open ended questions were appropriate
Egan Stage 2- Helping the client to look forward to the future by exploring options and possible goals. The client is encouraged to consider new perspectives concentrating on what he might do to cope more effectively and realize what resources he/she will need to achieve this. Understanding skills used in stage 2
All skills in stage one
Helping client recognize patterns and themes
Immediacy (taking place right now in counselling situation)
Egan Stage 3- Helping the clients resolve the problem situation by finding a suitable coping strategy and make a plan of action on how they are going to carry this out. Helping the client evaluate their new behaviour. Action skills used in stage 3
All skills in stage 1 & 2
Theory to plan action (Knowledge of how behaviour is changed & maintained)
Gerard Egan’s model is influenced by the Humanistic Person Centered Approach and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Stage 1 – Person Centered Approach were the client is the expert on his/her experiences and problems looking at solutions on how to solve them, enabling them to reach their full potential. Stage 2- Person Centered Approach along with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy were the aim is to identify the thinking that is causing unwanted feelings and behaviours and learn to replace this thinking with positive thoughts. This can result in behaviours that are more positive. The theory does not focus on events from the past but focuses on current difficulties in the here and now. CBT aims to teach new skills and new ways of reacting.
Stage 3- Cognitive behavioural Therapy
Gerard Egan (the skilled helper)
The goals of using the model are to help people “to manage their problems in living more effectively and develop unused opportunities more fully’, and to ‘help people become better at helping themselves in their everyday lives.”
Gerard Egan (7th Edition) The skilled Helper, Brooke & Cole
Margaret Hough (3rd Edition) Counselling skills and theory, Hodder education
Resource Material COSCA 2011