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Counseling Skills Case Study

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Updated: Apr 9th, 2019


Employees burnout all the time and this can be due to a variety of reasons ranging from a lack of progression within their current job, being bored with what they are doing, or even merely disliking the job in general (Huang et al., 2012).

It is not often the case that employees realize that their performance is worsening, nor do they understand the primary reason as to why they are no longer satisfied with their job.

This presents itself as prime situation where a counselor is needed in order to get to the heart of the matter, identify what the employee truly wants to do and create some form of action plan in order to create greater job satisfaction for the worker (Huang et al., 2012).

Hypothetical Scenario (Employee will be known as Ian)

In this particular situation, employee A has been a loyal and hardworking member of the company and has had exemplary assessment reviews during the first two years of this employment.

Unfortunately, by his third year his performance steadily dropped until it reached a point where the company needed to intervene in order to determine what brought about this change in what was once one of its best employees. As a counselor, you have been assigned to get to the bottom of the problem and help the employee get back to his original level of performance.

Exploring the Current situation of the patient

The story

It is often the case that guidance workers need to get at the heart of a matter regarding a client’s current problems in order to help resolve it. This involves a clarification of issues, knowing what particular emotions a client brings to the table in regards to a particular problem and what experiences have culminated in the current situation that they find themselves in.

From a medical standpoint, it can be stated that this aspect of Egan’s skill helper model can be considered a form of diagnosis utilized to determine what type of problems the client is currently facing (Breckman, 2007). Do note though that in this particular stage, clients are often hesitant to share information and thus need to be encouraged through empathy, silent listening, and open ended questions in order to allow them to talk (Breckman, 2007).


Counselor: “It has come to the attention of the company that as of late your performance has been dropping considerably which has affected the overall quality of your work. While normally an employee that underperforms is normally terminated, your previous history of exemplary work has been taken into consideration, as such, you are here today to help me understand your problems and help you overcome them.

Ian: “It is not that I have a problem with the company or the job itself, rather, I do not feel any motivation for working anymore. I have been with this company for almost 3 years and yet I have lost almost all of the satisfaction with the job I have.”

Strategy to utilize within this particular stage

During this particular stage of Egan’s skill helper model, the counselor will employ a series of open ended questions in order to help the employee being examined share more of the story. By doing so, the counselor will be able to continuously implement methods of empathy, paraphrasing and reflecting meaning into the statements given in order to help the employee tell more of the story and enable the counselor better understand the origin of the problem.

Identifying and clarifying blind spots

It is often the case that certain belief systems tend to blind people about certain perspectives and facts in general. Such perspective can even become self-fulfilling prophecies wherein an employee that things he is not good at a particular job will eventually not be good at the job at all due to negative reinforcement. Thus, it is the responsibility of the counselor to examine the problems from a distance and challenge the worker to overcome their blind spots to resolve the issue.


Ian: “Lately I just feel like my job lacks meaning, that I am not making any influential changes and that I am nothing more than another cog in the vast machinery of this company. It is this feeling of being nothing more than a statistic that makes me feel that my job or even my career is useless.”

Councilor: “Ian, while from your perspective your job may seem to be useless, you can actually do something about it in order to make it more relevant. The only reason you perceive your job as being irrelevant is due to the fact that you do not see the bigger picture nor do you challenge yourself enough by taking tasks that are normally not part of your job profile.”

Strategy to utilize within this particular stage

In this particular stage, the counselor will attempt to have the employee see that he is intentionally blinding himself in that he only sees the job but not the role the job plays in the greater whole. Not only that, the employee neglects to enhance on his role through other roles that he could possibly take up. By challenging the employee’s perspective and having him consider new roles this would enable Ian to realize that one of the reasons behind this job dissatisfaction is his own negativity and the lack of initiative he brings to it.


It is often the cases that clients involved in counseling sessions seek guidance in order to change some aspect of their life yet they are often uncertain as to what they should change or how they should change it (Hermansson, 1993).

This is where guidance workers enter into the picture, counselors help the clients focus on what issues they deem as important and help them create an order in which they prioritize which issues should be dealt with first. Leverage in this particular instance comes in the form of tackling one particular problem that would create a “domino effect” so to speak which should help solve the other problems the client has.


Ian: “I just do not know why I cannot feel any desire to do work. Maybe, it is due to my lack of interest, boredom, or it might even be the low pay of the job itself. I cannot bring myself to truly enjoy what I do.

Counselor: “Alright, the first thing we need to deal with is the overall lack of enthusiasm you bring to your job. If you actually find that what you do is enjoyable, then the other factors that are problematic for you will resolve themselves.”

Strategy to utilize within this particular stage

In this particular stage the counselor will focus on enthusiasm as the main method of leverage to create a more positive set of actions for the client. By helping the client understand that it is the type of work he does and the level of enthusiasm he has for the job, the counselor will slowly but surely enable the client to understand that he needs to diversify his job roles and try to think positively when it comes to working at his job.

Preferred Scenario

Through this particular aspect of Egan’s skill helper model, clients are introduced to the concept of preferred scenarios wherein they attempt to develop the idea of what would be the ideal sort of situation for them (Bagraith, Chardon, & King, 2010).

Do note though that Egan states that such scenarios should not be interpreted along the lines of impossible fantasy, rather, they should be based on realistic situations wherein the problems they had at the start are improved in some way so as to make them more manageable (Bagraith, Chardon, & King, 2010).


Counselor: “In your opinion, what would increase your overall level of job satisfaction? This does not mean that you can create an impossible fantasy where you are made CEO all of a sudden or if your salary is increase by 5 times its current amount, rather, it must resolve your current dilemma is some reasonable way”.

Ian: “Well, my main problem really is the fact that I cannot feel excited or happy at all when I go to work. It is the same thing day in and day out with little to no changes. If a greater degree of variation is added to my job I would definitely be able to enjoy it more.

Strategy to utilize within this particular stage

In this section the counselor will focus on various potential scenarios wherein the employee determines what aspects of this current problem could be resolved through slight improvements or changes.

By doing so, this encourages the employee to potentially find this own solution to the problem or even recommend a possible alternative solution that could be suggested to the management side of the company so as to implement the necessary changes.

Creating viable agendas

Through this step the counselor clarifies what exactly the employee wants and changes it into something definite to work with that can be built up on so as to encourage the employee to act on it.


Counselor: “You mentioned that you wanted your job to be more interest, in what way would it be more interesting for you?”

Ian: “Well, the best scenario for me would be if I had more job roles that were more diversified than what I have at the present.”

Choice and Commitment

Through this particular stage, the counselor introduces the concepts of choice and commitment in implementing a viable solution to the problems presented by the client during the scenario and preferred scenario stages.

The inherent problem with implementing this particular stage in the Egan skill helper model is that the choice is ultimately the responsibility of the client, as such, it sometimes happens that such a resolution does not fall through (Bagraith, Chardon, & King, 2010).

During such instances a counselor will utilize method related to showing how bad the current situation is, how easy it is to change and how that person will feel happier by implementing such changes in their life (Hermansson, 1993).

Strategy to utilize within this particular stage

The counselor will focus on the positive effects of resolving the issue through the various solutions presented by the client. By emphasizing that the solutions are feasible and will result in better conditions the client is more likely to implement them rather than ignore them.

Formulating Strategies and Plans. Brainstorming strategies for action

The main question of the client in this particular stage is usually “how can I reach my goal?” As Egan a state, the main problem for individuals failing to reach their respective goals is that they fail to explore possible alternatives. It is the responsibility of the counselor to guide them in realizing what solution is possible.


Ian: “How can I reach my goal?”

Counselor: “Here are possible alternatives you can choose from”

Strategy to use

The strategy for this plan revolves around possible alternative solutions that can be selected.

Choosing the best strategies

The main question of the client in this particular stage is usually “what will work for me?”

In this sub-stage it is the role of counselor to guide the client onto what possible solution would be the most effective.


Ian: “what will work for me?”

Counselor: “Well you did say you wanted for job diversity, let’s focus on that”

Strategy to use

The strategy in this particular case revolves around solidifying the ideal plan for the client out of all the possible alternative choices that initially presented themselves.

Turning strategies into a plan

The last step involves formulating an effective step by step plan to follow. In this case the main question of the client is “what action do I now need to take?”


Ian: “what action do I now need to take?”

Counselor: “We will now focus on creating a step by step action plan in what you must do to address your problem”

Strategy to use

In this section the strategy the counselor will focus on is creating an easy to follow step by step procedure the client can enact to solve his/her problem.

Reference List

Breckman, B. (2007). Egan’s Skilled Helper Model — Developments and Applications in Counselling. Nursing Standard, 21(19), 30. Retrieved from www.EBSCOhost.com

Bagraith, K., Chardon, L., & King, R. (2010). Rating counselor-client behavior in online counseling: Development and preliminary psychometric properties of the Counseling Progress and Depth Rating Instrument. Psychotherapy Research, 20(6), 722-730. Retrieved from www.EBSCOhost.com

Hermansson, G. L. (1993). Counsellors and organisational change: Egan’s systems model as a tool in organisational consulting. British Journal Of Guidance & Counselling, 21(2), 133. Retrieved from www.EBSCOhost.com

Huang, Y., Chen, C., Du, P., & Huang, I. (2012). The causal relationships between job characteristics, burnout, and psychological health: a two-wave panel study. International Journal Of Human Resource Management, 23(10), 2108-2125. Retrieved from www.EBSCOhost.com

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