The counselling process requires a helper with specific skills, and the process must follow a particular outline with three stages. To help counsellors achieve this, Gerard Egan’s Skilled Helper Model provides a well-structured and solution-focused foundation for counsellors. The model outlines three stages that a counsellor or therapist ought to follow to help the client move forward. Clients need helpers with knowledge and skills, whether acquired or natural, because if a helper does not possess relevant skills and expertise, the clients may not get adequate assistance. By mastering Egan’s Skilled Helper, a counsellor can increase their efficiency and help clients more logically and consistently (Egan, 2013, n.p). This model draws from three theoretical frameworks. One, Carkuff’s theory positing that counsellors or helpers that possess the skills of respect, empathy, concreteness, self-disclosure, among others, are the most effective in counselling clients. Secondly, the social influence theory in which clients achieve the best because of the helpers’ influence. Lastly, learning theory whereby clients learn from the behaviour of the helpers. This paper will determine the critical stages in developing a relationship, identify the role of a helper in regards to what enables and restrains them. Lastly, I will reflect on the counselling skills I have learned in simulated plays.

Key Stages in Development of a Relationship

Stage one of the model relates to exploring the client’s situation. Usually, when a client starts the therapy, there is always a sense of fear and uneasiness because they are not used to the therapies. This may make them uncomfortable to open up about their problems. Likewise, they may even fear the helper as a person, which may make the therapy not work. Thus, the model suggests that the first stage should make the client free of fear. The helper should build a non-threatening relationship so that the client can open up, and together they explore the client’s situation or problem. This is also the stage where the helper helps the client assess the opportunities and resources to use in the therapy course. Since the client is likely to be reluctant, the helper takes the first role and engages the client to identify new perspectives and think constructively or the success of the whole process (Breckman, 2007).

The second stage involves directing the client to develop an objective and more in-depth understanding of their situation or problem. When a client is seeking help, they may not be aware of their situation. Sometimes what they think is the problem may not be so. Therefore, it is the responsibility of a helper to make the client more aware of their situation. After the client is aware of their situation, the helper helps them explore options and achievable goals to mitigating the situation. The helper directs the client in making realistic and rational decisions through brainstorming and divergent thinking. The primary aim is to help the client think for themselves and be able to make sound decisions to solve their problems.

Lastly, the third stage involves acting on stage one’s explored skills and understood skills in stage two.  In this stage, the helper helps the client take appropriate actions. They define strategies to achieve goals and apply problem-solving and decision-making skills in solving the situation. The helper also provides support and encouragement to the client because counselling cannot be alienated from encouragement and support. In most cases, clients are always afraid of taking action. Within this stage, the client learns new skills that can help them live more effectively in life. The stage basically is designed to enable clients to step forward in their lives and enter into a stage they have desired in life. Towards the end of every stage or the whole process, it is crucial to evaluate the therapy’s success.


Role of the Helper with reference to Enabling and Restraining Factors

According to Egan’s model, the helper has three main roles; to help the client establish their aim, help the clients establish their goals, and help the clients develop or put their goals into practice. To achieve these roles, some factors enable them, and others that restrain or pose a challenge to the helpers from achieving. The first role falls under the first stage in which the helper’s primary role is to help the client identify their aim and explore the situation they are in. The enabling factor here is the client’s ability to open up about their problem and talk the truth. The restraining factor may be the client’s reluctance to communicate the truth or in full about their situation because, if this happens, the helper may not fulfil their roles.

The second role is to help the client establish their goals. This role falls under the second stage, whereby the helper directs the client in making realistic and sound decisions. One enabling factor in this role is the client knowing what they really want in life. Another factor is the client admitting that they have a problem, and setting goals will help them overcome. If the client possesses such attributes, they may contribute to the helper’s smooth facilitation in establishing goals. The restraining factors include; confusion of both the client and helper; some helpers may be confused and may not help clients define goals.  Lack of skills and knowledge may also pose a challenge because the helper may not be aware of effective ways of defining goals.

Lastly, the third role of a helper is to help the client develop strategies of acting. Factors that may enable this role are a collaboration of the client, open listening, and creative thinking. All these factors enable both the helper and the client to come up with effective strategies. Some of the restraining factors may include a lack of acceptance by the client and a lack of necessary counselling skills. This is because the helper’s role is to provide support and encouragement, so if the helper does not have the skills and knowledge, the role may be incomplete.

Reflection on the Development of Counselling Skills in Simulated Plays

In stage one, I developed three key counselling skills that will enable me to help clients identify their aim and situation in the future. One of them is empathy. I learned to put myself into the client’s shoes in many ways. For instance, I cannot judge a client because of being fearful of the therapy or to open up. Everybody has some fear, and even if it were me, I could be reluctant to open up at first. Hence, understanding clients is one core skill of counselling. Secondly, I learned the skill of asking questions. Counselling cannot be successful without questions. I discovered that I should ask open-ended questions in the first stage of counselling as it eliminates fear in clients and makes them more comfortable in thinking. Thirdly, I learned the skill of listening and focusing. Stage one is where the client talks about the situation. It is also the stage where they develop an attitude towards the helper. Therefore, I must listen and focus on what they say if the counselling is to be successful. The attitude they develop at that stage will determine the success.

In stage two, one of the skills I learned is understanding. To help the client understand their situation and define goals, I must understand how to derive goals and background information to their problems. Thus I developed the tendency of understanding the theme of their situations to define goals. Secondly, I developed the skills of helping clients with self-disclosure. Self-disclosure is vital for counselling, but many clients find it hard. I discovered that I must first engage them so that they disclose information and maybe tell a story that will inspire them. Lastly, I learned the skill of timing and pacing. Knowing how to manage time is essential in keeping the client alert. Also, different clients have different paces of thinking and doing things. I learned that slow clients need more time to think about what they want, so giving them more time is crucial. Also, fast-thinking clients take less time; I thus, need to be a bit fast to match with them.

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To sum up, following the key stages of Egan’s model is essential for any counsellor. Developing a counselling relationship starts by exploring the client’s situation, developing goals and objectives, and implementing strategies to act on the goals. Every helper needs to help the client find the therapy aim, establish their goals, and develop strategies. Some factors enable a helper to fulfil their roles, and some restrain them from fulfilling. Some of them that enable fulfil the roles are the client’s ability to open up and speak the truth, self-awareness of the client, collaboration, active listening of both, and the helper possessing counselling skills and knowledge. Factors that restrain a helper from fulfilling their roles include; lack of knowledge and skills, the client’s reluctance to communicate, and the client’s lack of acceptance. A counsellor’s critical skills that they should have include; empathy, proper interrogation, listening and focusing, understanding, self-disclosure techniques, and time management. Any counsellor must master the model as it has whatever they need to succeed in helping clients.


Breckman, B., 2007. Egan’s Skilled Helper Model – Developments and Applications in CounsellingEgan’s Skilled Helper Model – Developments and Applications in Counselling. Nursing Standard, 21(19), pp.30-30.

Egan, G., 2013. The Skilled Helper.