I find it hard to understand why evaluation is seen in such a negative light by so many counsellors. Is it good enough to simply ‘be there’ for the client? If it is, how do we know that to be true? What mechanism(s) do we employ at a personal level to validate our work?
Apart from an emphasis on the role of counselling supervision many counsellor training programmes still give scant attention to helping counsellors develop ways of monitoring their ongoing effectiveness.
In my own practice I have developed a variety of ways of evaluating my own effectiveness over and above the use of regular counselling supervision: for example, by monitoring the number of clients who do not attend a second appointment after their first meeting. I have heard counsellors talk as if this is the norm and has nothing to do with them. This may be true, of course.
For example, those working in GP practices where referrals may be inappropriate; where clients are disappointed when the counsellor does not behave like a medical practitioner by providing cures’ where it is normal for people simply to miss an appointment with their doctor and this attitude carries over to the counsellor – these counsellors have to contend with difficulties outside of their control.
However, such arguments do not hold true for a counsellor in private practice who has far more control over the clients they see. In my own practice it is extremely rare that a client fails to return without good reason following an assessment session. Because it is unusual, when it does happen I undertake a ‘post-mortem’ of our work to see what part, if any, I may have played in the process.