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Competences for humanistic counselling with young people (11-18 years)

Based on a comprehensive review of the research literature and overseen by an Expert Reference Group led by Professor Tony Roth, a competence framework for counselling children and young people has been developed.

The framework describes a humanistic model of therapy. A central theme of all humanistic approaches is that they emphasise a relational way of working, placing less emphasis on technique as compared to other therapeutic orientations. Here, the key counsellor competences are a capacity for sustained empathic relating, openness, receptiveness, and the maintenance of a fundamentally accepting stance.

Humanistic therapists also tend towards interventions which support and validate immediate experiencing in the client: actions which are seen as facilitating the integrity of the self and a sense of personal authenticity. Humanistic approaches encourage self-awareness: including awareness of experience itself, of emotional reactions, and the experience of interactions with others. Traditionally at least, the counsellor's role is one of helping young people to extend their awareness of their subjective world and supporting their natural striving toward self-awareness, self-acceptance and personally-determined solutions.

The framework identifies the competences required for the delivery of effective humanistic counselling for young people within the 11-18 age range. It describes a framework for the competences; how this should be applied by practitioners; its advantages for clinicians, trainers and commissioners; and the uses to which it can be put.  

pdf file  Competences map for working with young people (11-18 year) (0.5Mb)

(This document has been updated to make it more accessible. The actual competences within the framework remain the same.) 


This framework organises the competences into seven ‘domains': 

1.      Core competences for all professionals working with young people.

2.      Generic therapeutic competences for professionals working in a therapeutic capacity.

3.      Basic competences for humanistic counselling with young people: skills that are fundamental to humanistic counselling.

4.      Specific competences for humanistic counselling with young people: skills that are practised in some, but not necessarily all cases, depending on how and what the young person presents in therapy.

5.      Meta-competences: overarching, higher-order competences which humanistic practitioners need to guide the implementation of any therapeutic work.

6.      Competences relevant to working in the various organisational contexts associated with counselling for young people.

7.      Additional therapeutic interventions that are not part of the humanistic tradition, but that may be relevant to work with young people, and are indicative of the kinds of competences that humanistic counsellors might integrate into their practice when working with their clients.

Counsellors' guide