What Is a Case Study?
When you’re performing research as part of your job or for a school assignment, you’ll probably come across case studies that help you to learn more about the topic at hand. But what is a case study and why are they helpful? Read on to learn all about case studies.
At face value, a case study is a deep dive into a topic. Case studies can be found in many fields, particularly across the social sciences and medicine. When you conduct a case study, you create a body of research based on an inquiry and related data from analysis of a group, individual or controlled research environment.
As a researcher, you can benefit from the analysis of case studies similar to inquiries you’re currently studying. Researchers often rely on case studies to answer questions that basic information and standard diagnostics cannot address.
Study a Pattern
One of the main objectives of a case study is to find a pattern that answers whatever the initial inquiry seeks to find. This might be a question about why college students are prone to certain eating habits or what mental health problems afflict house fire survivors. The researcher then collects data, either through observation or data research, and starts connecting the dots to find underlying behaviors or impacts of the sample group’s behavior.
During the study period, the researcher gathers evidence to back the observed patterns and future claims that’ll be derived from the data. Since case studies are usually presented in the professional environment, it’s not enough to simply have a theory and observational notes to back up a claim. Instead, the researcher must provide evidence to support the body of study and the resulting conclusions.
As the study progresses, the researcher develops a solid case to present to peers or a governing body. Case study presentation is important because it legitimizes the body of research and opens the findings to a broader analysis that may end up drawing a conclusion that’s more true to the data than what one or two researchers might establish. The presentation might be formal or casual, depending on the case study itself.
Once the body of research is established, it’s time to draw conclusions from the case study. As with all social sciences studies, conclusions from one researcher shouldn’t necessarily be taken as gospel, but they’re helpful for advancing the body of knowledge in a given field. For that purpose, they’re an invaluable way of gathering new material and presenting ideas that others in the field can learn from and expand upon.
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Counseling Practice in Organization Case Study
Employees burnout all the time and this can be due to a variety of reasons ranging from a lack of progression within their current job, being bored with what they are doing, or even merely disliking the job in general (Huang et al., 2012).
It is not often the case that employees realize that their performance is worsening, nor do they understand the primary reason as to why they are no longer satisfied with their job.
This presents itself as prime situation where a counselor is needed in order to get to the heart of the matter, identify what the employee truly wants to do and create some form of action plan in order to create greater job satisfaction for the worker (Huang et al., 2012).
Hypothetical Scenario (Employee will be known as Ian)
In this particular situation, employee A has been a loyal and hardworking member of the company and has had exemplary assessment reviews during the first two years of this employment.
Unfortunately, by his third year his performance steadily dropped until it reached a point where the company needed to intervene in order to determine what brought about this change in what was once one of its best employees. As a counselor, you have been assigned to get to the bottom of the problem and help the employee get back to his original level of performance.
Exploring the Current situation of the patient
It is often the case that guidance workers need to get at the heart of a matter regarding a client’s current problems in order to help resolve it. This involves a clarification of issues, knowing what particular emotions a client brings to the table in regards to a particular problem and what experiences have culminated in the current situation that they find themselves in.
From a medical standpoint, it can be stated that this aspect of Egan’s skill helper model can be considered a form of diagnosis utilized to determine what type of problems the client is currently facing (Breckman, 2007). Do note though that in this particular stage, clients are often hesitant to share information and thus need to be encouraged through empathy, silent listening, and open ended questions in order to allow them to talk (Breckman, 2007).
Counselor: “It has come to the attention of the company that as of late your performance has been dropping considerably which has affected the overall quality of your work. While normally an employee that underperforms is normally terminated, your previous history of exemplary work has been taken into consideration, as such, you are here today to help me understand your problems and help you overcome them.
Ian: “It is not that I have a problem with the company or the job itself, rather, I do not feel any motivation for working anymore. I have been with this company for almost 3 years and yet I have lost almost all of the satisfaction with the job I have.”
Strategy to utilize within this particular stage
During this particular stage of Egan’s skill helper model, the counselor will employ a series of open ended questions in order to help the employee being examined share more of the story. By doing so, the counselor will be able to continuously implement methods of empathy, paraphrasing and reflecting meaning into the statements given in order to help the employee tell more of the story and enable the counselor better understand the origin of the problem.
Identifying and clarifying blind spots
It is often the case that certain belief systems tend to blind people about certain perspectives and facts in general. Such perspective can even become self-fulfilling prophecies wherein an employee that things he is not good at a particular job will eventually not be good at the job at all due to negative reinforcement. Thus, it is the responsibility of the counselor to examine the problems from a distance and challenge the worker to overcome their blind spots to resolve the issue.
Ian: “Lately I just feel like my job lacks meaning, that I am not making any influential changes and that I am nothing more than another cog in the vast machinery of this company. It is this feeling of being nothing more than a statistic that makes me feel that my job or even my career is useless.”
Councilor: “Ian, while from your perspective your job may seem to be useless, you can actually do something about it in order to make it more relevant. The only reason you perceive your job as being irrelevant is due to the fact that you do not see the bigger picture nor do you challenge yourself enough by taking tasks that are normally not part of your job profile.”
In this particular stage, the counselor will attempt to have the employee see that he is intentionally blinding himself in that he only sees the job but not the role the job plays in the greater whole. Not only that, the employee neglects to enhance on his role through other roles that he could possibly take up. By challenging the employee’s perspective and having him consider new roles this would enable Ian to realize that one of the reasons behind this job dissatisfaction is his own negativity and the lack of initiative he brings to it.
It is often the cases that clients involved in counseling sessions seek guidance in order to change some aspect of their life yet they are often uncertain as to what they should change or how they should change it (Hermansson, 1993).
This is where guidance workers enter into the picture, counselors help the clients focus on what issues they deem as important and help them create an order in which they prioritize which issues should be dealt with first. Leverage in this particular instance comes in the form of tackling one particular problem that would create a “domino effect” so to speak which should help solve the other problems the client has.
Ian: “I just do not know why I cannot feel any desire to do work. Maybe, it is due to my lack of interest, boredom, or it might even be the low pay of the job itself. I cannot bring myself to truly enjoy what I do.
Counselor: “Alright, the first thing we need to deal with is the overall lack of enthusiasm you bring to your job. If you actually find that what you do is enjoyable, then the other factors that are problematic for you will resolve themselves.”
In this particular stage the counselor will focus on enthusiasm as the main method of leverage to create a more positive set of actions for the client. By helping the client understand that it is the type of work he does and the level of enthusiasm he has for the job, the counselor will slowly but surely enable the client to understand that he needs to diversify his job roles and try to think positively when it comes to working at his job.
Through this particular aspect of Egan’s skill helper model, clients are introduced to the concept of preferred scenarios wherein they attempt to develop the idea of what would be the ideal sort of situation for them (Bagraith, Chardon, & King, 2010).
Do note though that Egan states that such scenarios should not be interpreted along the lines of impossible fantasy, rather, they should be based on realistic situations wherein the problems they had at the start are improved in some way so as to make them more manageable (Bagraith, Chardon, & King, 2010).
Counselor: “In your opinion, what would increase your overall level of job satisfaction? This does not mean that you can create an impossible fantasy where you are made CEO all of a sudden or if your salary is increase by 5 times its current amount, rather, it must resolve your current dilemma is some reasonable way”.
Ian: “Well, my main problem really is the fact that I cannot feel excited or happy at all when I go to work. It is the same thing day in and day out with little to no changes. If a greater degree of variation is added to my job I would definitely be able to enjoy it more.
In this section the counselor will focus on various potential scenarios wherein the employee determines what aspects of this current problem could be resolved through slight improvements or changes.
By doing so, this encourages the employee to potentially find this own solution to the problem or even recommend a possible alternative solution that could be suggested to the management side of the company so as to implement the necessary changes.
Creating viable agendas
Through this step the counselor clarifies what exactly the employee wants and changes it into something definite to work with that can be built up on so as to encourage the employee to act on it.
Counselor: “You mentioned that you wanted your job to be more interest, in what way would it be more interesting for you?”
Ian: “Well, the best scenario for me would be if I had more job roles that were more diversified than what I have at the present.”
Choice and Commitment
Through this particular stage, the counselor introduces the concepts of choice and commitment in implementing a viable solution to the problems presented by the client during the scenario and preferred scenario stages.
The inherent problem with implementing this particular stage in the Egan skill helper model is that the choice is ultimately the responsibility of the client, as such, it sometimes happens that such a resolution does not fall through (Bagraith, Chardon, & King, 2010).
During such instances a counselor will utilize method related to showing how bad the current situation is, how easy it is to change and how that person will feel happier by implementing such changes in their life (Hermansson, 1993).
The counselor will focus on the positive effects of resolving the issue through the various solutions presented by the client. By emphasizing that the solutions are feasible and will result in better conditions the client is more likely to implement them rather than ignore them.
Formulating Strategies and Plans. Brainstorming strategies for action
The main question of the client in this particular stage is usually “how can I reach my goal?” As Egan a state, the main problem for individuals failing to reach their respective goals is that they fail to explore possible alternatives. It is the responsibility of the counselor to guide them in realizing what solution is possible.
Ian: “How can I reach my goal?”
Counselor: “Here are possible alternatives you can choose from”
Strategy to use
The strategy for this plan revolves around possible alternative solutions that can be selected.
Choosing the best strategies
The main question of the client in this particular stage is usually “what will work for me?”
In this sub-stage it is the role of counselor to guide the client onto what possible solution would be the most effective.
Ian: “what will work for me?”
Counselor: “Well you did say you wanted for job diversity, let’s focus on that”
The strategy in this particular case revolves around solidifying the ideal plan for the client out of all the possible alternative choices that initially presented themselves.
Turning strategies into a plan
The last step involves formulating an effective step by step plan to follow. In this case the main question of the client is “what action do I now need to take?”
Ian: “what action do I now need to take?”
Counselor: “We will now focus on creating a step by step action plan in what you must do to address your problem”
In this section the strategy the counselor will focus on is creating an easy to follow step by step procedure the client can enact to solve his/her problem.
Breckman, B. (2007). Egan’s Skilled Helper Model — Developments and Applications in Counselling. Nursing Standard, 21 (19), 30. Retrieved from www.EBSCOhost.com
Bagraith, K., Chardon, L., & King, R. (2010). Rating counselor-client behavior in online counseling: Development and preliminary psychometric properties of the Counseling Progress and Depth Rating Instrument. Psychotherapy Research , 20 (6), 722-730. Retrieved from www.EBSCOhost.com
Hermansson, G. L. (1993). Counsellors and organisational change: Egan’s systems model as a tool in organisational consulting. British Journal Of Guidance & Counselling, 21 (2), 133. Retrieved from www.EBSCOhost.com
Huang, Y., Chen, C., Du, P., & Huang, I. (2012). The causal relationships between job characteristics, burnout, and psychological health: a two-wave panel study. International Journal Of Human Resource Management, 23 (10), 2108-2125. Retrieved from www.EBSCOhost.com
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IvyPanda. (2022, April 9). Counseling Practice in Organization. https://ivypanda.com/essays/counseling-skills/
"Counseling Practice in Organization." IvyPanda , 9 Apr. 2022, ivypanda.com/essays/counseling-skills/.
IvyPanda . (2022) 'Counseling Practice in Organization'. 9 April.
IvyPanda . 2022. "Counseling Practice in Organization." April 9, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/counseling-skills/.
1. IvyPanda . "Counseling Practice in Organization." April 9, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/counseling-skills/.
IvyPanda . "Counseling Practice in Organization." April 9, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/counseling-skills/.
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Case studies, case studies and more case studies!
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Counselling Case Study: Using REBT
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Counselling Case Study: Managing Anxiety
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Counselling Case Study: Learning to Let Go
Elizabeth came to counselling because she was experiencing intense anger, and was not coping with her life. She complained of failed relationships with her ex-husband, and with another man whom she left her husband to be with. Elizabeth cannot move on from the anger she feels about her failed relationships and she is feeling isolated […]
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Counselling Case Study: Social Anxiety
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- February 11, 2008
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A Case of Using Logical Consequences
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A Case of Using a Person-Centred and Cognitive-Behavioural Approach to Burnout
Brett is a 36 year old man who works as an accountant for a small family business. The business is failing and Brett will probably have to begin the process of “winding it up” in the near future. His commitment to the business and his friends, the business owners, has intensified the level of stress […]
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Counselling Case Study: An Overwhelmed Client
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A Case of Mid-Life Difficulties
Fritz is 42 years of age and has been in Australia for the past 25 years. He migrated from Germany with his immediate family, comprising of his mother, father and two sisters. At the age of 17 Fritz was filled with great dreams and aspirations for his new life in a new country and until […]
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A Case of Stressful Life Change
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An Introduction to Employee Assistance Programs
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CASE STUDY 1
An EAP is asked to work with the Strategic Human Capital Committee of a company. The Committee asks the EAP to monitor the assessed problems, by department, and report back observed trends and recommendations for management development or needed organizational changes. As the EAP explores this request it realizes that there are several very small departments in which there are only a few employees and that disclosing any information about such small groups might compromise the confidentiality of the individual employee/clients. The EAP helps the Committee identify alternative organizational management strategies that would not create a potential conflict of interest for the EAP, allowing the EAP to remain a neutral entity in the organization.
CASE STUDY 2
The EAP is asked to provide a stress management workshop for a particular department that has had a lot of turnover the past year. Despite conducting a thorough needs assessment prior to the workshop, the EAP counselor quickly realizes that the employees believe their supervisor and the company are responsible for their high levels of stress. The employees use the workshop as an opportunity to vent their frustration and anger about their work loads and company expectations. The EAP counselor serving the employees allows them to feel heard and helps them learn how to take control of their stress levels. The counselor completes the training and helps the employees focus on maximizing their productivity at work. It is important that the counselor shows sufficient empathy to build rapport and gain the trust of the employees, but also remains neutral. The counselor can serve both clients by giving the employees the opportunity to express frustration then refocusing them on finding healthy ways to manage anger and stress.
CASE STUDY 3
An employee is seeking counseling for "work stress." The employee reports that he feels his supervisor is discriminating against him and tells the counselor he plans to hire a lawyer and sue the company. Again, it is important for the EAP counselor to remain neutral in this situation. The EAP counselor connects enough with the client in order to complete the assessment and make a plan of action to address the employee client's needs but does not take sides with either the company or the employee client. It is not the counselor's job to conduct an investigation of the discrimination, to make a determination of fact, or to be involved in the disciplinary process. He stays neutral and focused on supporting the emotional needs of the employee client and connecting the employee client to problem-solving resources, which can involve empathizing with the employee client, helping him identify resources for emotional support, and creating a self-care plan. The counselor is also aware of the internal resources of the company and encourages the employee client to seek additional problem resolution through the equal employment office (EEO), human resources office, and union. Connecting an employee with internal company resources helps the employee and the organization resolve the problem more quickly and typically with less financial cost to both the employee client and the organizational client.
CASE STUDY 4
An EAP counselor is asked to be onsite following the murder of an employee. (The murder occurred after work hours and away from the worksite.) During the group intervention, an employee (and good friend of the deceased) reports that he does not see a point in living in a world where good people are murdered and murderers roam freely. The employee goes on to say that he plans to drink himself to death that night. After concluding the group intervention session, the counselor follows up with this employee to complete an assessment, including a risk assessment.
CASE STUDY 5
An employee walks into her supervisor's office, hands her supervisor her ID badge, and says: "I won't be needing this after tonight." The supervisor knows that the employee has been counseled for work performance problems and that she is going through a divorce. The supervisor immediately calls security. She also alerts the EAP that she has an employee who needs immediate attention. The company has an onsite EAP counselor who handles this crisis-initiated case. The counselor's job is to complete an assessment, including a risk assessment.
In both examples, the counselor takes immediate action, helps the employees identify supportive resources, establishes a safety plan with the employees, and facilitates a referral for medical evaluation and therapy. (If needed, the counselor may call 911 so an ambulance can take the employee to the hospital to ensure his or her safety.)
CASE STUDY 6
A client contacts the EAP following his supervisor's retirement and recent problems with his new supervisor. The client reports that his new supervisor is unresponsive to emails containing questions about draft work products, but then expects him to work evenings and weekends to make last-minute corrections. The client reports a disruption to his work-life balance. No current symptoms are assessed—no problems with sleep, appetite, mood, or concentration and no risk of substance abuse. The EAP counselor employs short-term counseling to help the client develop alternate communication strategies to use when talking to his new supervisor about concerns and needs; learn stress management skills such as deep breathing and journaling; and develop assertiveness skills to set limits with his new supervisor.
A different approach would be needed if, for example, the assessment had revealed that the client has a history of clinical depression; averages only four hours of sleep each night; has gained weight in the past two weeks; or is drinking four glasses of wine each work night. In this case, due to the client's history of depression and current symptoms, he would be referred to a therapist with experience working with depression and substance abuse. He would also be encouraged to abstain from alcohol use and attend AA for additional support regarding his use of alcohol. The EAP counselor may provide SAMHSA literature about unhealthy drinking behaviors and alcohol abuse and encourage the client to consider the consequences and problems associated with using alcohol as a stress management tool.
If the counselor's assessment indicates that a client's problem requires more sessions than allotted by the EAP for resolution, or if a specialist is needed for diagnosis and treatment of a mental health disorder, a referral to treatment resources is included in the action plan. Referrals to treatment resources should be made after the first or second session, before the client gets too connected or goes too deeply into the problem with the EAP counselor.
CASE STUDY 7
Employees report to management that they often smell alcohol on their supervisor's breath and that sometimes the supervisor disappears after lunch. Management talks with the supervisor who assures them that she is not drinking. She says that she often has meetings in the afternoon and that she will do a better job of communicating her schedule to her team and to other departments who may need her. Later the same month, the cleaning crew supervisor reports finding several empty single-serving wine bottles in the supervisor's trash can. (This is a mandatory reporting as outlined in the company's drug-free workplace manual.) Management discusses the matter and decides to formally refer the supervisor to the EAP but to take no additional disciplinary action. Management reports to EAP that the supervisor has been with the company for more than 30 years and that she is close to retirement, so they do not want to tarnish the supervisor's employment record or jeopardize her retirement. The EAP coaches management on how to confront and refer the supervisor. The supervisor comes to the EAP, which assesses her problems as depression and alcohol dependence. The EAP strongly recommends an outpatient substance abuse treatment program as well as therapy with a local provider who has experience with addiction and depression. The supervisor rejects the recommendations and instead prefers to attend Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART) meetings and see her former therapist. The EAP continues to follow up with the supervisor to ensure compliance with the two-prong plan. About one month later, the supervisor is found passed out in the office building lobby and is taken to a hospital for treatment. Management then gives the supervisor three choices: resign from the company; work with the EAP and comply with all EAP recommendations; or do nothing and be fired for violation of several company policies. The employee chooses the second option and begins outpatient treatment and therapy. The EAP will continue to monitor her compliance and will report results to management.
CASE STUDY 8
While working with a client, an EAP counselor asks why the client did not seek assistance earlier, before the issue became a crisis. The client responds that "my union representative told me the EAP is the devil." The EAP counselor then reaches out to the union representative and learns that the union had experienced problems with the EAP about 10 years ago. Through numerous conversations and collaborations, the EAP counselor and the union representative are able to build a good working relationship; the union soon becomes one of the biggest referral sources for the EAP.
CASE STUDY 9
An employee contacts her union because she is unhappy with the performance evaluation she recently received from her supervisor. The employee is seeking the union's assistance in obtaining an extension on the evaluation period and a re-evaluation after three months. The employee reports to the union that she is dealing with her son's recent suicide attempt and may, therefore, have fallen behind at work. She believes that she can be back on track in three months and would like a new performance evaluation at that time. The union recommends that she contact the EAP and then explains that setting up an appointment with EAP would be good for two reasons: the EAP can provide support and additional resources to ensure that the employee can focus on work for the next three months, and letting management know that she is seeking EAP support shows that she is taking action to resolve the personal problems that are impacting her work performance. (Note: This is not a violation of confidentiality. The client can tell anyone she wants that she is seeking counseling; it is the EAP counselor who needs a signed release of information in order to disclose information about EAP participation.)
CASE STUDY 10
Human resources (HR) conducts a benefits fair and invites the EAP manager to participate as an outreach effort. HR provides the EAP manager (and all HR representatives) with a t-shirt labeled with "HR" and the company's name. To preserve the appearance of confidentiality, however, the EAP manager decides to wear professional attire rather than the company t-shirt. It is key that the EAP remain a neutral entity in the organization.
CASE STUDY 11
An EAP manager and counselor are standing in the hallway openly venting frustrations with their boss. An EAP client walks by and overhears their conversation. Later, the client does not show up for a scheduled appointment. The EAP counselor calls to follow-up with the client and discovers that the client is concerned about confidentiality based on the discussion he overheard in the hallway. Although the EAP manager and counselor were not discussing client information, the perception of confidentiality has been violated.
CASE STUDY 12
An EAP counselor is invited to play on the company's kickball team. The counselor wants to play, but declines the offer in order to preserve the appearance of confidentiality. She decides it is best for EAP counselors to maintain professional boundaries at all times with all employees.
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Client case studies – therapy at work
- Client case studies
We hope these client case studies will provide an insight into therapy and how it works. Although they have been written by us, they are based on real work with clients, although we have mixed things up a little and changed names so nobody can be identified.
How CBT helped Sarah deal with stress and anxiety
I decided to get some help when I found myself feeling very stressed at work and struggling to cope with the feelings I was having in meetings. Eventually I walked out of one, and that was enough to make me realise I needed to do something. I arranged an initial session with John and we worked using cognitive-behaviour therapy (CBT). This approach involved me looking at some of the specific worries I was having at the time, and in doing so I realised how much pressure I put myself under to ‘succeed’ in everything I did. As I got older, the expectations just seemed to mount up and in situations I felt I couldn’t control I experienced very high levels of anxiety (fearing I was ‘failing’). John helped me understand the thinking patterns underlying my problems and taught me a range of ways to change things, from challenging some negative thoughts I had about myself to doing more things to relax and wind down. Although it took a while, I gradually found myself feeling more able to cope. I realised what I expected of myself was unreasonable and I just cut myself a bit more slack. The CBT really helped me. Although I was nervous to start with, I found John friendly and understanding. After a few meetings, I began really looking forward to my sessions, as a chance to talk about things – something I didn’t seem to have elsewhere. It was a very positive experience for me.
If, like Sarah, you wish to speak to somebody about stress and anxiety, please contact us .
Go to main cognitive-behaviour therapy (CBT) page
How counselling helped Stuart
I resisted speaking to someone for years, feeling I was strong enough to sort out my own mess. However it was the loss of a good friend that made me think 'what the hell' and pluck up the courage to see someone. I organised an initial session with Peter, who was a psychologist specialising in counselling . It was difficult to start with, and I talked mainly about 'safer' topics linked to my difficulties coming to terms with my friend's death and the impact these were having on my life. Just talking was such a relief to me and Peter was really helpful in pointing out things in what I said that made me think. He was a good listening ear too who didn't seem to judge me for who and what I was. Over time, I opened up and talked to him about difficult stuff from my past, as well as some of the problems I was having managing how much I drank. Again we talked a lot about these things and I was kind of able to make sense of why I did what I did and felt the way I did. This helped me change things, mainly by realising I was not to blame for things in the ways I'd feared. That actually changed my life, as I realised how much I'd lived driven by guilt and anger. I now have a much healthier lifestyle and don't drink anything like the amount I used to. I still have low moments and remain on anti-depressants (my GP has a plan to stop these soon, which I guess I agree with). Mostly I feel content and have hope the future might offer me something more than I had expected. I have a college course coming up and think this might be the start of something new.
If, like Stuart, you need to speak to somebody about current difficulties you are experiencing or things that have happened in the past, please contact us.
Go to main counselling page
How counselling and relationship/couples counselling helped Joanne and Paul with their relationship difficulties
We decided we needed to see a counsellor when all we ever did was argue. It was horrible and we both just wanted to find a way of stopping what seemed to be these never ending arguments – often about nothing at all. We saw Susan, who specialised in relationship/couples counselling. Initially we focused on the ‘pattern’ we were in, helping us identify what it was we thought the other was doing that made us feel so provoked. She also gave each of us time and space in turn to talk about how we felt without interruption. This was really important for us as in doing so it became really clear neither of us realised how much the other was struggling. Me because I was having a hard time at work and Paul because he just couldn’t seem to cope with his fears around our relationship not working out. Susan suggested he might need to see someone himself for some counselling to talk about things, which he did. We also continued to work on what was happening between us. Both really helped – Paul managed to understand what was making him so scared and we realised we both had a habit of ‘testing’ each other, which was causing us to get into so many battles. Over time things improved as we learned to communicate more openly and to de-escalate conflict situations (i.e. we now have time outs!). I am pleased to say we are still together two years on – something that seemed impossible to envisage at the time.
If, like Joanne and Paul, you are having relationship problems and feel it would help to speak to somebody qualified to help, please contact us.
Go to relationship/couples counselling page
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The case for counseling at the workplace
India has one of the largest women dropouts in the workforce. some counseling can help change that; the economic benefits are enormous.
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SV Nathan is the Partner and Chief Talent Officer at Deloitte India.
- The Future of Work for Indian women
- From acquisition to exit: What data can reveal about talent
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A 2016 report by The Wall Street Journal found that Indian millennials spend more time at work than their counterparts in twenty-five other countries, an average of fifty-two hours a week. The fast pace and stressful world has led our employees to struggle with work-related stress and personal issues. Mental health challenges can affect an individual’s performance. It will lead to increased absenteeism, lowered productivity, and stressful peer relationships.
Life altering decisions like wedding, parenting, and care for the elderly add an additional dimension of stress, especially for many Indian working women.
The overwhelmed Lakshmi The Indian Goddess of wealth – Lakshmi, is celebrated for her strength, abundance and power. However, many of her Indian sisters face a different reality in their workplaces and at home.
In India, women are less likely to work than they are in any country in the G20, except for Saudi Arabia, and in April 2017, a World Bank report found the sharpest workforce participation drops among both, illiterate women and India’s most educated women.
While men and women are equally ambitious, certain factors impede the career ambitions of many Indian women
» Women still do a disproportionate amount of housework, child- and elder-care (i.e., unpaid work). As per some studies, Indian women spend more than five times as many hours as men on unpaid care work. This is the reason why workplace flexibility is one of the most frequently cited reason for employees to join and stay with a company, as it gives them a sense of ownership over what they do.
» The “anytime performance model”, one that requires employees to stay connected to work 24X7 through devices, requires a sacrifice of family time and hence makes it more difficult for women executives to juggle busy careers and a demanding family life.
» For any group of professionals, building networks with people to share experiences and to brainstorm their problems, is integral to learning and growing in their career. However, as statistics have indicated, India ranks fifth lowest in having women at top leadership positions. In India, women occupy only 7.7 percent of board seats, while in the US, women hold 19.9 percent of S&P 500 board seats. Hence, there is a lack of role models and people to learn from.
The opting out of the workforce by Indian women has far reaching implications. As per The Economist , if India were to rebalance its workforce, the world’s biggest democracy would be 27 percent richer.
In an era of ever-intensifying competition for talent, companies that can attract and retain women professionals are likely to succeed. This has been shown by various studies including one by Catalyst, which found that Fortune 500 companies with women on their boards had significantly higher returns on equity (53 percent), better sales (42 percent), and a two-thirds greater return on investment (ROI) than companies with all-male boards.
Many Indian organisations are recognising this and have instituted programs and policies to retain women professionals. Initiatives include flexi timings, work from home options, mentorship, learning and development programs, and parental leave. These initiatives are a step in the right direction and should be celebrated.
However, given the rising stress levels on the one hand, and opting out of the workforce for women professionals on the other, a deeper intervention is needed that can help empower women to manage expectations from both, family and employers. One of the key ways of doing this is by providing counselling to women professionals in a structured and ongoing manner.
Case for counselling of women professionals As per CIPD UK, counseling is used to help an individual improve performance by resolving situations from the past. It can help people learn to manage themselves. Unlike coaching or mentoring, which are future oriented and help in skill building, a counselor can help get to the heart of a problem that disrupts the day-to-day activities of an individual by reflecting on the past. Counseling typically deals with behaviours and thoughts that impact performance and productivity, as opposed to knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to improve performance and productivity.
Counseling can be organised in a face-to-face format, where the professional has a one-on-one session in person. This can also be organised online, or via phone. Another way to do this is by group sessions. Going to a group counselling session can be helpful as it can help women professionals discuss their issues with people who are going through similar life situations and help them forge a support network.
A counsellor at the workplace can help in leveraging core capacities of employees and aid in creating a culture of greater synergy, especially from a learning and development standpoint. It is known that what happens beyond the office walls and inside the walls of our homes, has a direct bearing on our workplace productivity. Counselling can be an effective and preventive people management strategy for organisations to help employees, especially women professionals, better manage stress, gaps in expectations, and work-related issues, as it can cover a gamut of topics like anxiety, change in job role, marriage, issues with colleagues, and so on.
These interventions can help women professionals feel more aligned to the organisation, feel cared for, increase their self-awareness regarding their thinking patterns, and forge support systems other than what they may have at home. In turn, it can help them become more effective at their job, leading to a greater sense of achievement and thus impacting their decision to forge long-term careers. Research has continually proven that there is a strong link between an employee's psychological well-being and her productivity at work.
Embedding counseling in talent Many organisations these days offer counseling services through Employee Assistance Programs (EAP). A counseling service offered by an EAP often includes both, in-person counseling, as well as a telephone-based helpline.
There are other ways by which counseling can be embedded in an organisation's Talent strategy and eventually, align it to the overall business strategy
Support from leadership One could identify and appoint mental wellness champions from business leadership, who could be responsible for demystifying the stigma around mental well-being and share the importance of counseling. This can also help build a culture where women professionals feel safe to share their struggles and seek support.
Embed counseling as a key skill for new managers All newly promoted managers can be taught basic skills in counseling, as it can help them reach out to their team members and take preventive interventions early on. For example, if a manager observes an increase in absenteeism, missed deadlines, lower quality of work and an increase of errors at work, one can engage in a healthy conversation and help the professional seek support.
Organisations can promote employee network groups These communities create a safe space for professionals who go through similar experiences and help share best practices, hardships, and advice. Simple meet ups for coffee, or a quick fifteen to thirty minute conversation can help substantially. This is especially true for women who might have apprehensions about re-entering the workforce, as positive affirmations through employee networks can help ease the anxiety.
In order to retain professionals, especially women professionals, it is a business imperative to weave counseling as a tool in various initiatives and build leadership support around it. It can decrease burnouts, absenteeism, and costs related to turnover.
Eventually, we need to view counselors as modern day business partners who can help our women professionals manage stress and problems brought about by personal and organisational changes.
While stress and pressure is a modern day reality, one can hope to deal with it through counseling.
The author is a Partner and Chief Talent Officer at Deloitte India.
The thoughts and opinions shared here are of the author.
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