Is helping too fluffy?

As a newly qualified adviser, I was really interested to look into the differences between the types of training I received on my New Zealand course and what the majority of my colleagues go through on UK courses.  There were many!  Apart from never hearing mention of DOTS (sacrilege I know!) a major part of our course was spent exploring guidance models and what actually takes place within a guidance discussion.

Much was based on Robert R Carkhuff‘s work regarding helping models.  The basis of his developmental model for helping is based around a 4 stage process explained below.  I’ve used examples from a careers discussion to help put it in perspective.

Attending: ensuring your client is as comfortable as possible. Is the room too hot/cold?  Is the layout of the space suitable?  How are you introducing/starting the session?  What is your body language telling your client?

Responding: Listening (see Saiyada’s early blog on the Three Levels of Listening) acknowledging and responding to your client to encourage them to fully verbalise their experiences.

Personalising: Taking the stories you have explored and helping the client take ownership of them.  Asking the client why that experience is important to them and often challenging the client if they are making contradictory statements.  In this stage you may use summary statements such as ‘you feel … because you …’

Initiating: Helping the client develop personalised goals and actions to achieve these.

Adding in the linking processes between the 4 stages gives you something like this:

Helping Model

In practice this model isn’t linear, more cyclical with most sessions often cycling between the responding and personalising stage in particular.

  • Do you think this model fits into a careers guidance context?
  • Or is it best left in the world of counselling?
  • Does it fit with your advising style?

Related posts: Glamour models

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    1. #1 by David Winter on 2 October 2009 - 12:43

      I think it’s an interesting model. Obviously, there are a lot of similarities between this and other models out there such as Ali-Graham.

      The one aspect that strikes me as being a little different about this one is the Personalising stage. It seems to place a clearer emphasis on encouraging the client to take responsibility for their story, past and future. This could be a good thing to keep in mind with clients who want you to ‘sort them out’.

      As well as one-to-one guidance, I think this model could also be usefully applied to structure facilitated group workshops:

      • Attending – Are the initial conditions conducive to good interaction?
      • Responding – Are you drawing information and learning from the group rather than it all coming from you?
      • Personalising – Are you adapting to the people, the stories, the needs immediately in the room?
      • Initiating – Are you inspiring and equipping people to act on the learning that takes place?
    2. #2 by Katie Dallison on 5 October 2009 - 14:13

      Exactly David! And during our course we had to consider this model in pretty much every interaction we used.

      As a teaching tool for a new careers adviser, I found it really helpful – allowing structure but also helping me to reflect and put into perspective how I, as a practitioner can move a careers discussion on. I always had a tendency to spend ages in the responding stage (as it’s easy!) so recognising this in myself and focusing on techniques to transition to personalising was one of my key developments. Moving into our everyday practices I found the model difficult to apply to quick queries purely due to time restraints but have used the idea of personalising problems to discourage dependency and help in initial expectation setting.

    3. #3 by Amy Wildash on 21 October 2009 - 04:31

      Hi Katie

      Remember me from Trident!!
      The DOTS model is one that we use in NZ school based careers education, I have found that in my practice here it is important to distinguish between what the students are needing. Certainly for some the ARPI model is essential but also it helps me to avoid getting into teacher mode and making sure that I help the student explore the issues fully and that they are able to have a voice in the session. For high school students they spend a lot of time being told what to do, think etc that having their own voice can be a challenge for them as well!! The personalising skills have been great to try and develop because thats when you get to the bottom of it.
      Hows it going in London?

    4. #4 by Katie Dallison on 23 October 2009 - 16:38

      Hi Amy!
      Thanks for your input – clearly one of my next blog entrys is going to have to be about DOTS!!
      Will email you off blog with London news.

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