For Criterion 8 we want you to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding by describing your way of working. Tell us about your rationale for practice, the role of your self-awareness as a practitioner and your understanding of issues of difference and equality.

Explain how you generally work with clients and what interventions you might make. If you’re using more than one theory, tell us how and why you move between those theories and what informs your choice of intervention.  

The criterion is broken down into three sub-criteria. You may write to each sub-criteria separately under headings, or address the whole criterion. The total word limit is 1,400 words. 

Whichever format you choose, make sure you reference each of the sub-criteria clearly so that the assessors can see where the evidence for each sits. But don't over reference - if you reference all three sub-criteria after a paragraph, it won’t provide a clear indication that you've understood the criteria.

We don't require case material as Criterion 9 provides an opportunity for you to illustrate your way of working in practice. We're looking for an overview of your approach for all of your practice and the different client groups that you work with.

8.1 Describe a rationale for your client work with reference to the theory or theories that inform all your practice

Describe in your own words what you do and why you do it, with all your different client groups.

Link the theories to your practice

You need to show a clear link between your way of working and the theory or theories that inform your approach. You should explain the theory to show your conceptual understanding but you don't need to give a lengthy account. We understand the theories and concepts, so we want you to show your understanding and tell us about how and why you're using these approaches rather than the theory itself.

If you use different approaches, explain how you bring these together to form a consistent way of working. Consider the different theories that underpin these concepts and how they sit together with your main theoretical base. Explain what prompts your use of interventions from these different approaches and how you bring them together into a coherent approach.

For example, if you say ‘my core approach is person-centred but I also use CBT techniques when appropriate’, that doesn't tell us how you bring these two very different approaches together to make a coherent whole, or what ‘when appropriate’ actually means.

Or if you have a ‘toolkit’ of different techniques and approaches, you need to tell us what these are, what theories underpin them and why you might use them. It's important to show how you reconcile any differences and your rationale for using a particular approach or intervention.

It may help to list the different words connected to your way of working - such as core conditions, self-actualisation, non-directive, transference, scaling, parent, adult, child, negative automatic thoughts, maintenance cycle.

Using theory words and jargon is only useful if their meaning is clear. You don't need to include quotes from literature sources or provide a bibliography.

Consider all the different client groups you work with

If you work with individual adults and with children and young people, if you see couples, families and groups, or if you practise in both short and long-term settings, your way of working is likely to differ to fit the needs of these different groups. Tell us how you adapt your approach and any particular considerations that affect your way of working with them.

For example, when working with children and young people, different developmental stages may inform your approach or use of interventions.

Think about your additional ways of working

If you've answered yes to working in a specific way, such as working online or by phone, explain what impact the context or setting may have on your way of working and how you have adapted your approach to work in this way.

For example, have you undertaken any training or CPD to assist with this work. What additional factors, such as confidentiality and disinhibition, do you need to consider? Do you discuss these with your client?

You may find it helpful to describe your client groups and explain your ways of working to a colleague. They can help you articulate your approach by prompting you and asking questions. Talking into a recording device may also help in the early stages of writing.

Focus on how you work now

When you've been qualified for some time, your approach is likely to have developed through your experience, CPD and additional training. So, while your past training is relevant and important, we're most interested in how you practise today. You may have trained and work within one theoretical orientation, or your practice may incorporate several different approaches. Your rationale – and your way of working - is unique to you.

You don’t need to tell us about theories or ways of working that you no longer use. For example, if you worked with children 10 years ago but no longer work in this way, there’s no need to say you work with children and young people or to explain how you work with them.

8.2 Describe the place of your self-awareness within your way of working

Explain how you use yourself within the therapeutic relationship. Show your awareness of your own process and describe how you work safely without your own reactions and experiences getting in the way.

You need to refer to your rationale described in 8.1. This may include using specific terms relating to self-awareness that are consistent with your theoretical approach, such as congruence, immediacy, reflexivity, projection, transference and countertransference. You might use these words to describe the nature and importance of your self-awareness and how you observe and understand your use of self during the therapeutic process.

This list is not prescriptive and you don't have to use such terms. We're interested in how you see the role of your own self-awareness in your way of working in your own words.

8.3 Describe how issues of difference and equality impact upon the therapeutic relationship

Here we’re asking you to show your general understanding of how issues of difference and equality can affect your relationship with all your clients.

To meet this criterion, you need to show your awareness of these issues in relation to all your clients. We’re not looking for an example of work you did with a client who was different to you, a list of different issues, or statements like ‘I have lots of experience of working with difference’ or ‘I treat everyone the same’.

You need to explain how you address both explicit and implicit issues of difference and equality in your work, particularly those that are relevant to your area of practice.

For example, some issues are visible such as age, gender, race and physical disability. Others may be audible, like language, or perhaps invisible in the case of social class or religion. You may also wish to consider issues such as white privilege or neurodiversity.

You might consider the balance of power in the counselling relationship and how you seek to address this. This could include how clients see themselves in relation to the world and to you. You might also consider the similarities between yourself and your clients, for example your own belief systems, culture or social class, and how you guard against over identification.

Consider all the different client groups you practise with and the different contexts or settings in which counselling takes place. For example, a middle-class female counsellor who works with predominately male children within a deprived area may pay particular attention to age, gender, language, class and culture and to how these issues can potentially get in the way of the working relationship.

Check Criterion 8 on our common reasons for deferral page.