Gerard Egan’s counselling guide is a three-stage model designed for counsellors or “helpers”. With this model these helpers are able to structure their work with persons in order to help them to help themselves. This is built around three questions: What is going on? What do I want instead? How can I get to where I want to go?
The questions enable the person to begin with making plans for their life and to form priorities with realistic approaches to their problems. They are then able to gain a deeper insight into their own situation and problem. The counsellor will understand that these questions will have the effect of challenging the person into self analysis and action.
Egan’s model is widely used in the counselling profession and gives a loose framework to the “helper” that emphasises the importance of their use of their own intuition, training and experience in making professional judgements .
Egan knew that his structured framework of three questions to the person should be at the heart of the counselling sessions and key to the counselling approach; this way, the goals that are set in the counselling session will be formed by the person themselves, with the counsellor or “helper” assisting rather than leading .
In the context of Pastoral Care, this assignment will focus on some of the values of Egan’s model with consideration given to some of its limitations in that arena.
Values of Egan’s model
Dividing counselling sessions into stages is common a practice among helpers . Egan’s model is a particularly positive one, and focuses on giving the power to the person with whom the counsellor is working. Often, the use of incremental stages is an analytical tool used by a counsellor. In Egan’s three stages, however, the person themselves sets the terms of the stages, determines their length, nature and definition, and in so doing is more empowered than they otherwise might be in such a situation. This approach is particularly relevant to those working in a pastoral care setting, as the relationship between counsellor and person may often be more long-term than the counselling sessions, and a consultative and empowering approach such as this is likely to also protect the pastoral relationship, as well as providing a constructive therapeutic environment.
Counsellors using Egan’s approach are directed to ensure that the sessions and discussion are forward-looking, seeking the definition of future goals and challenges, and setting out a plan to achieve these ends, rather than focusing on the past, which cannot be changed and may encourage the person to dwell on negative memories or events, instead of on those things over which they have control and can affect.
Egan’s approach is determinedly person-centred, because rather than imposing a set of universal milestones upon the person, they are able to set their own milestones through the questions, thus ensuring that everything that is discussed and sought through the...