1st Edition

Competence and Self-Care in Counselling and Psychotherapy

By Gerrie Hughes Copyright 2014
    192 Pages
    by Routledge

    192 Pages
    by Routledge

    What is it that makes a counsellor or psychotherapist competent?

    In Competence and Self-Care in Counselling and Psychotherapy, Gerrie Hughes offers a framework for understanding what being competent means for individual practitioners, both generally and in moment-by-moment work with clients. Divided into two sections, Part One, The Competent Self, and Part Two, Care of the Self, the book explores care and replenishment of the self as an essential requirement for maintaining competence.

    The Competence Framework presented here suggests that the three elements of Practitioner, Client and Context are essential factors for making good therapeutic choices, as well as offering a structure for reflection, either individually or in supervision. The eight principles that elaborate on these elements provide a route to explore competence that is relevant for any theoretical orientation and appropriate for practitioners at any stage. The reader is encouraged to make their own exploration of a number of factors that influence competence and to identify development of the self as both a necessary preparation for therapeutic work and as a continuing outcome of being a therapist. In addition, Hughes emphasises the importance of having a sound ethical framework and utilising professional structures as well as examining the contribution of supervision to the development and maintenance of competence.

    This book is an ideal choice for counsellors, psychotherapists, supervisors and trainers who wish to maintain a robust standard of practice, and for those employing them.

    Part 1: The Competent Self. What Do We Mean When We Talk about Competence? How Do We Define Competence? The Context: The Significance of Setting. Part 2: Care of the Self. Professional Self-care. Focus on Supervision. Highlighting Personal Self-care.


    Gerrie Hughes has a private practice in Cardiff and writes both fiction and non-fiction. She trained in Gestalt psychotherapy after leaving her first career with British Gas. She has more than twenty years’ experience as a therapist, supervisor and trainer and has worked in the NHS, in education and in a number of training institutes.


    'This book impressed me for many reasons. First, it was written by a Gestalt practitioner for professionals of every orientation... Second, while wanting to describe the criteria for competence, Gerrie does not reduce them to a formal training, or to the achieving of minimum standards... Third, it does not reduce competence, or the effectiveness of the therapist, to the ability to achieve goals and succeed in ‘curing’ the client.''- Dr Piergiulio Poli, Figuremergenti

     ‘Gerrie Hughes has given us an unusually comprehensive, detailed and inclusive account of what leads to competence in the practice of counselling and psychotherapy. This is as relevant to students who want to join the profession as to graduates who want to understand how to sustain their competence throughout their career, particularly by remaining thoughtful and reflective through supervision and by ensuring they do not become burnt out by ignoring their own needs. It is particularly good to see that competence in working across diverse communities is taken very seriously throughout the book.’ - Dr Judy Ryde, author of Being White in the Helping Professions

    'Here is a useful, well-written travel guide for exploring the practitioner's private world of work – practical, yet deep and wise too. As an accomplished and adventurous gestalt psychotherapist, Gerrie Hughes generously opens her consulting room and inner world to more public view. The book will delight and inform beginners, and established practitioners will recognise and re-think their own situations, clinical dilemmas, disappointments, and deeply-held ideals and values.' - Malcolm Parlett, former editor of the British Gestalt Journal and retired psychotherapist trainer

    'My final point is to commend Hughes on the explicit acknowledgement and discussion of diversity as it relates to the therapist and how this impacts on the relationship... I am pleased to have this book as part of my personal library and would certainly recommend it to trainers and supervisees wishing to explore the vitally important area of competence and self care.' - Michelle Oldale, Sherwood Psychotherapy Training Institute, Open University, Healthcare Counselling and Psychotherapy Journal

    'Hughes' book... took a more personal and relational approach, offering a more in-depth guide into competence and self-care... Hughes places self-care into the frame of competence... I was... supported to really engage with what self-care meant ot me, especially in the context of my ongoing competence as a practitioner, by Hughes' more practical approach that asked me difficult questions, left me thinking and really supported me to engage with my own process around this. I returned to th teh questions this book raised for me several times in the ensuing weeks... Hughes' book achieved its mission of encouraging each individual to consider 'her or his own way of being competent'" - Sarah Paul, Albany Centre, Hertfordshire, British Gestalt Journal