By John Sommers-Flanagan
Defining mental health counselor competence is difficult. Unfortunately, professional definitions of competence often rely on abstract knowledge that is difficult for counselors to apply. This article highlights the history and terminology associated with the evidence-based movement in medicine, psychology, and counseling. Using this historical information as a foundation, a relationally-oriented, evidence-based practice model for achieving competence in mental health counseling is proposed. The model emphasizes such evidence-based relationship factors as (a) congruence and genuineness, (b) the working alliance, (c) unconditional positive regard or radical acceptance, (d) empathic understanding, (e) rupture and repair, (f) managing countertransference, (g) implementing in- and out-of-session (homework) procedures, and (h) progress monitoring. The purpose of the model is to articulate a distinctive and practical evidence-based approach that mental health counselors can wholeheartedly embrace.
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