Apply Basic Skills in Students Counselling, Professor Alao Urges Varsity Personnel
Personnel, who interact with students in the University setting on a regular basis, especially when they engage in mini helping relationship, must be imbued with attending and listening skills, a senior faculty at the Department of Psychology, College of Leadership Development Studies, Covenant University, Professor Amos Alao, has advocated.
It is pertinent, he noted, that the attending and listening skills, which are the basic skills that must be used during the entire helping process, are understood by the helper. The goal of attending is to communicate to the client that the helper is paying attention, while listening skills means placing yourself in such a way to avoid noises, views, people or anyone who can distract you from listening, he added.
Speaking at the 9th Inaugural Lecture of Covenant University, held on Thursday, April 13, 2017, where he spoke on the topic, ‘Can Two Walk Together except They Agree? A psychological perspective of a journey of a helping relationship and behaviour change’, the Professor of Counselling, among other recommendations, said that Universities must expose their graduates to more practical skills/experiential learning rather than concentrating on theory; and maintain a visible Career and Placement Office or Centre to help students begin to develop the rudiments of career life and development.
Professor Alao, while sharing his experience as Director, Careers and counselling Centre, University of Botswana with the audience, said that career services were viewed from a broad perspective and operational areas like the Careers Unit, which helps to equip students with career related skills; the Counselling Unit, which provides individual counselling to meet specific needs and ongoing problems of each client; and the Job Placement Unit, which promotes the employability and employment opportunities of University students and alumni.
He interpreted the catch phrase, ‘Can two walk together except they agree?’ as a journey between two people with one person leading the way and the person being led agreeing to follow. According to him, there is the assumption that there is no coercion and both have decided to walk on their own volition, with the one leading knowing the way and expectation of a positive result at the end of the journey.
“A helping relationship also presupposes that the person seeking help is probably, facing a difficulty, a challenging situation, a psychological problem, in emotional pain, wants to maximize his or her potential, and the individual seeking help believes that he or she could be assisted by the helper because of his/her expertise,” the Inaugural Lecturer explained.
A helping relationship, he said, is unilateral, systematic, formal and time limited, while its goals and objectives include changing of a particular problem behavior such as poor interpersonal skills; developing insight or a clear rational and emotional understanding of one's problems; change in one's self perception, self-confidence, or sense of adequacy; and change in one's life style or personality restructuring.
Professor Alao highlighted the three-stage model of helping and behaviour change as the Exploration Stage, which involves helping the clients to explore their thought, feelings and actions; the Insight Stage, which is helping the clients to come to understand their thoughts, feelings and actions; and the Action Stage, which is helping the clients to decide what action to take on the basis of their exploration and insight.
The scholar, whose research activities had transited from focus on issues related to counsellor’s characteristics and preparation of students in the 1980s, to focus on issues related to psychosocial adjustment, behavioural problems of adolescents and health related issues in the 1990s, said that future research collaborations are anticipated in the areas of wellness and behavioural issues.
In her comments, the Education Secretary, Living Faith Church, Worldwide, Professor Bridget Sokan, who represented the Chancellor and Chairman, Board of Regents, Covenant University, Dr. David O. Oyedepo at the occasion, congratulated the Inaugural Lecturer, Professor Amos Alao for what she said was a very interesting lecture.
She said that, “looking at the various action researches that Professor Alao has engaged in, it is important for Covenant University to have a Careers Placement Office for the students who need to know about what their would-be employers require of them”.
While acknowledging that the Inaugural Lecturer was her teacher at the University of Ibadan, Professor Sokan said that it was a privilege for Covenant University to have him as a faculty, adding that through the lecture, he has taken the audience through the process of the helping profession.
Earlier on in his welcome remarks, the Vice-Chancellor, Covenant University, Professor AAA. Atayero, said that the plethora of media freely available for consumption on the social platform of the cyberspace, depicting violence in uncensored manner, was increasingly making the consumer of the same callous and insensitive.
He added that the buzz words like MAGA, which is ‘Make America Great Again’, with its uncanny undertone of nationalistic tendencies; and ‘Brexit’, the result of emotional referendum voting against the establishment etc., were becoming a norm.
Professor Atayero, who averred that the current socio-political ambience of the global arena begs for a discourse on unity, tolerance, mutual respect, empathy and brotherly love, said that it was for this reason that the 9th Inaugural Lecture could not have been delivered at a more opportune time.
“What a joy that the person to do justice to the all-important topic is a seasoned scholar and erudite Professor of Psychology, Professor Amos Alao,” the Vice-Chancellor enthused.
The inaugural lecture was witnessed by a large audience comprised of members of the CU Management, Principal Officers, the University Senate, faculty, staff and students, including family members of the inaugural lecturer and guests from all walks of life.