3 stages of counseling process (A Guide)

The current blogspot will be based on the question “what are the 3 stages of a counseling process?”. We will learn the names of the 3 counseling stages and the aims of the 3 stages of the counseling process. We will also see the different characteristics that mark the three stages of the counseling process different from each other.

What are the 3 stages of the counseling process?

The counseling process, like any other effective, healthy and functional communication process, is divided into three stages namely:

  • The initial stage (the initial disclosure)
  • The middle stage (the in depth exploration stage of counseling process)
  • The final stage (commitment to action stage)

The three stages of counseling process is a structured and planned way to move towards the direction of the desired outcome of the client and reach an ultimate positive change in behavior.

The initial stage (the initial disclosure)

The first stage of the counseling process is the initial stage. It is also known as the initial disclosure. The first stage of counseling is centered around establishing therapeutic alliance and a positive rapport with the client. 

The therapist works towards establishing a professional relationship of trust so that the client has confidence over the counselor and the counseling procedure as whole.

In the first initial stage of counseling, the counselor works towards establishing a rapport that helps the counselor to take the client in the further in-depth exploration state. 

The relationship established as a result of the initial stage fosters the further exploration into the client’s underlying problem areas, it facilitates the client to gain a deeper insight into the client’s problems and aids them to formulate goals for the counseling. 

The layout of the first initial phase of the counseling process can be defined as:

  • Setting the formal verbal contract between the client and the therapist to establish the boundaries
  • Informing the client about the confidentiality of the counseling sessions
  • Establishing a therapeutic alliance and a relationship of mutual trust based on professional rapport that enable the client and the therapist to understand each other well.
  • Setting the pace of going toward the goal and analyzing the client’s motivation and intrapersonal parameters.
  • Understanding the client’s problem from his or her perspective. Considering the various related factors that need to be further probed by the counselor from the client like the severity, intensity, frequency and acceptance of the client of the unpleasant thoughts and emotions.
  • Assessing and analyzing the nature of the problem and forming a hypothesis for a tentative diagnosis.
  • Facilitating the client to set smart goals that are realistic, achievable, assessable and measurable.

The middle stage (the in depth exploration stage of counseling process)

The second stage of the counseling process is also known as the middle stage or the in-depth exploration stage.  In this stage of counseling, the counselor facilitates the client to get connected to the underlying personality processes, the unaddressed thoughts and unexpressed emotions that are related to the client’s problem. 

The counselor facilitates the client to gain a deeper insight into the client’s problem and understand the various other factors that are related to the persistence and perseverance of the problem.

The length of the middle stage can be long or short depending on the goal and the reason for the counseling. Usually solution focused counseling sessions have a middle phase of short duration whereas comparatively the counseling sessions that are based on cognitive restructuring or  behavior modification have a middle phase of longer duration. 

The middle phase or the in-depth exploration works towards:

  • Gaining insight about the emotional makeup of the client’ personality and developing a deeper insight into the personality structure and behavioral pattern.
  • Looking out for the various changes in the client’s perception, emotions, values, well-being and thought content as a result of a triggering event or life phase.
  • The counselor looks for various defense mechanisms that the client uses and understands the denial patterns that clients use to overcome their defenses.
  • The counselor tries to understand the various spheres of life that the client becomes resistant to during the process of in-depth exploration.
  • The counselor understands the behavior of the client in the counseling session in the light of transference. Transference changes a client’s  behavior towards the counselor in the way that they behave with some significant other in their life.
  • The counselor understands his or her own behavior towards the client in the light of countertransference that makes the counselor change their behavior in the light of the feelings from a significant other in their life that they associate with the client.
  • The counselor facilitates the client to manage with impasse with their road towards the behavior modification or goal achievement. An impasse is reached during the second stage of the counseling when the client reverts back to the previous stage of thoughts or behaviour in the counseling process.
  • The counselor works towards breaking the resistance of the client and helps them identify and recognize their unaddressed needs and unexpressed emotions without denying their existence.

The final stage (commitment to action stage)

The final stage of the counseling process is also known as commitment to action or the last stage. This stage is centered around goal achievement. The clearly stated and well established goals are checked in terms of progress and the counseling process is taken forward to attain the goals.

A plan of action is devised by the client in facilitation with the counselor to overcome any hurdles in reaching the desired goal.

The last stage of the counseling process is related to identification of the various strategies that aid in solving the underlying problem effectively and efficiently.

The plan of action that is devised in the final stage of the counseling process should be :

  • Associated to the desired outcome of the client
  • Well defined and agreed upon by the client
  • Feasible and realistic for the client as per his or her strengths and motivation
  • Should be consistent with the client’s desired outcome and needs.

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Conclusion

The current blogspot focused on the 3 stages of the counseling process. We learned that a counseling process is divided into 3 stages; the initial stage or the initial disclosure stage, the middle stage or the in-depth exploration stage and the final stage or the commitment to action stage. We learned the various characteristics of each stage in the counseling process that differentiate the stages from each other.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs): 3 stages of counseling process

What are the stages of counseling?

The stages of the counseling process are the various steps in a counseling process that take a person towards the goal of the counseling. The person goes from one stage of the counseling process to the other, facilitated by the therapist to finally reach the goal settled during the counseling process.

What are the four stages of counseling?

The four stages of counseling are described in the adlerian therapy. The four stages to counseling process are:

  • Engagement
  • Assessment
  • Insight
  • Reorientation

Citations

http://www.dspmuranchi.ac.in/pdf/Blog/stages%20of%20counselling.pdf

https://allassignmentsupport.com/blog/3-stages-of-counseling-process/

https://www.patnauniversity.ac.in/e-content/social_sciences/psychology/MAPsychology109.pdf

https://www.mometrix.com/academy/life-stages-in-client-assessment/

https://www.fhi360.org/sites/default/files/webpages/Modules/CPI/s3pg2.htm

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