Saturday, November 5, 2011

A training guide for the European counsellor- Introduction.


As a counsellor trained in the humanistic approaches, one thing that I have trouble with is containing the conversation. It often takes me most of the session to get the client to finally stop talking about themselves and to focus on me! I really want to get to that point much quicker in my sessions so that my client has more time to sit and listen to this wise bard (yes, me again). When I say that clients can learn so much from me, I am not just humbly stating the obvious. My life experience has led me to a place where I am generously able to offer the most excellent of advice. So I recently set off looking for books, training or whatever I could find to help me get out of the humanistic rut I was in.

After much searching I was flabbergasted to discover the lack of assistance for counsellors such as I, who need help in making the focus of the session ‘me’ and my brilliance. Most of the books I found were all ‘client focused’. These books were so Western and so polite, they made me throw my arms up in disgust and make some random unintelligible noise beginning with ‘Phugh!”. These guides all lacked  passion and life. Are counsellors expected to be blank faced emotionless robots who summarise, repeat phrases and rattle off generic phrases like …’how do you feel about that’, ‘what are you feeling right now’, ‘tell me more’ etc. Where is the gusto and fiery emotion of the European?  It’s about time someone put together a few pointers for the European styled counsellor. Yes, the counsellor who is not afraid to say it like it is, who won’t take crap and whose motto is ‘If you ain’t gonna take my advice, then don’t waste my time!’ By George, I am feeling inspired just rereading those few lines that I, myself  have typed! As no one is able to pull themselves away from ‘actively listening’ to their clients for long enough to assist us, the us who need more than the lifeless humanistic approaches offer, then it seems left up to self-inspiring I to bravely lead the way and re-write the bible (so to speak)!

Yes, I will kindly write a guide for you and for all the budding ‘European counsellors' everywhere who may need some guidance on how to bring honest emotion, good advice, truth (which does sometimes hurt, but remember, it is for your own good), passion and engagement back into the counselling session!  I am also excited to now present the only factual thing you'll come across in this guide, which is:

Actual studies show that it is not the style or the model of counselling that matters as such, it’s the quality of the counsellor-client relationship!

Everyone knows that Europeans are the experts on relationships! Whether these relationships last or if there will be faithfulness in them, I cannot say (in fact I don't think there is a word in European for 'fidelity', but don't quote me on that!). Do stay tuned for haphazardly presented snippets, tricks and tips that will bring out the medallion wearing, mono-browed European within. Throw the word ‘counsellor’ in, grab a coffee, some cannoli and congratulations! you are now officially a European Counsellor! 

Now go out there and change some lives!

matteo schiavello.


  1. I think you know how whole heartedly I support this idea. It could be a new school of thought! I, myself (see I can do it too!) have reaped the rewards of European Counselling. Two words. Life. Changing.

    You should charge extra.

  2. KP, I love the 'life changing' bit and am going to steal...err borrow it. As for the 'I, myself' line, that is mine. Please don't use it again, otherwise you will hear from my solicitor, who is also my second cousin on my mothers side!

  3. mmmm, not so sure about this. you do need to listen to understand and gain a perspective. Could there could be an interesting crossover between active listing and wanting to hear your own voice? You have to make sure the advice you are giving is relevant. Could the client be the counsellor???

  4. i wonder if 'european counselling' works on other europeans?...i suspect not, if they themselves have trouble listening...

    How could you overcome this problem Dr Matteo ?

  5. 'Anonymous' I do wonder if you are a spy from the humanistic camp trying to debunk my ego-centric and self-absorbed (comedic) theory!

    To make it simplistically clear, the counsellor is the person being paid and the client is the payee. I am going to ignore transference and Hokum about 'relevant advice' as they bring my theory too much into question and in doing so the attention is drawn away from 'me'! No one wants that, least of all I.

    Tomboybill. A couple of free tips for you on dealing with Europeans:

    1) Smoke machines work wonders in getting the European's attention. They make everything seem magical. Reading your blog,

    I see that you have not had the pleasure of the smoke machine at a wedding! Anyhoo, Flip the smoke machine on as your start dishing out the brilliant advice and Viola! You have transfixed the allusive European! Don’t over use it and just remember- with great power, comes great responsibility!

    Second tip is a saying in European families (or maybe just mine) - The person with the loudest voice will be heard. So, if you feel the European is not listening, turn up your volume (ummm I mean talk louder). If the European talks over you, talk louder! And if they talk louder again, then you guessed, talk louder! Oh, and waving your arms about helps as well (I think)! Non-Europeans who witness this in action mistaken this as being an aggressive and loud fight, no, we are just talking!

  6. Sorry to be a bit challenging for you. My apologies. How do you get on culturally and professionally with Asian and Middle Eastern (ie non European) clients who speak English and other European languages very well particularly those in your neighbourhood and nearby suburbs? Can you maintain a satisfactory personal focus under these circumstances and if so how?

  7. Hello again Anonymous,
    It seems I have confused you, so I apologise. This posting and in fact all of the future ‘how to be a European counsellor’ postings are all very much tongue in cheek (ie meant to be funny). If you look at the tags attached, I have selected ‘humorous’ as well, just to let people know who are not familiar with my sense of humour.

    On a serious note, I very much value, the humanistic approach, Gestalt, existentialism, Client-centred etc.

    Thank you for reading!


  8. Is there no opportunity for humour about the items mentioned in my last comment??????????? Crowner has a very dry, cryptic and ambiguos sense of humour.