A professional counsellor will be able to assess a client’s needs and help them find successful solutions to promote physical, mental and emotional wellness in their lives. One of the best methods to achieve this is through an individual life skills approach. Life skills are those that help individuals set goals, sharpen their abilities, and mobilize actions that improve their quality of life (Life Skills Resource, 2017).
Life skills encompass more than just basic skills needed for survival. Instead, they work in different social and cultural contexts and respond to the needs of an individual in real-life situations (Javrh, 2018). As a professional counsellor, you should empower individuals to develop essential life skills as a means of creating a more successful and fruitful life path.
What Are Life Skills?
Any skill that is useful for the progression of your life can be deemed a life skill. More exactly, life skills refer to any skills needed to live as both an individual and a collective member of society (Skills You Need, 2020).
Life skills are the building blocks of independence and self-efficacy (Javrh, 2018). They empower individuals to solve problems and take on the key challenges adults face in the modern world (Javrh, 2018). These challenges may include taking care of one’s physical and mental health, handling financial affairs, and navigating the digital landscape. In this sense, life skills embrace not only the needs of the client, but also their knowledge and values (Javrh, 2018). Professionals in a counsellor therapist career should identify the skills that are most useful to their client’s current situation, and find practical ways to build those competencies.
The Importance of a Life Skills Approach in a Counsellor Therapist Career
As a professional counsellor, you should work to nurture capabilities in your clients that provide a foundation for lifelong development. Building the right skills is the best way to ensure that individuals continue on a path of personal progression, even after their counselling sessions. A life skills approach applies counselling skills to help people clarify their feelings and values, gain self-understanding, and take personal responsibility for their actions (Larson, 1984). By developing confidence in their own capacities, clients are able to make firm decisions, communicate effectively, and explore new opportunities (Larson, 1984).
Many counselling techniques rely on verbal communication between the therapist and the client. By contrast, the life skills approach applies carefully developed instructional methods to help people cope more effectively with the psychological and social problems they face throughout life (Larson, 1984). In other words, this is an approach that focuses on the direct training of the client. Methods may include experience-based workshops, small-group processes, and the breaking down of complex problems into manageable learning tasks (Larson, 1984).
How Individuals Can Apply Life Skills
Life skills can help to increase an individual’s opportunities in their social, economic, and professional spheres. Different life skills may be more or less relevant at different stages of a client’s life. Throughout these stages, one of the most important life skills to build in clients is the ability and willingness to learn (Skills You Need, 2020).
By consistently learning new skills, we gain the tools to lead a more productive and fulfilling life, and find ways to manage the challenges that arise (Skills You Need, 2020). This should be a lifelong process that empowers an individual’s understanding of the world around them. Beyond that, effective life skills can contribute to the objective quality of life (Life Skills Resource, 2017). The objective quality refers to successful actions in different areas of life, such as getting a new job, completing school, or making a new relationship (Life Skills Resource, 2017). Through the right counselling approach, clients can achieve both mental and situational changes that contribute to a more fulfilling life.
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Javrh, P (2018). The Life Skills Approach in Europe. Retrieved from https://eaea.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Life-Skills-Approach-in-Europe-summaryEN_FINAL_13042018-1.pdf
Larson, D. (1984). Teaching Psychological Skills: Models for Giving Psychology Away. Retrieved from http://www.adkinslifeskills.org/pdf/WA_Article.pdf
Life Skills Resource (2017). Life Skills Counselling. Retrieved from http://www.lifeskillsresourcepdx.com/client-services/life-skills-counseling/
Skills You Need (2020). Life Skills. Retrieved from https://www.skillsyouneed.com/general/life-skills.html