«Alicja Kargulowa University of Lower Silesia Why We Need Counsellogical Research: Towards an Anthropology of Counselling The article explores various ...»
In its general content, counsellogical knowledge is interdisciplinary and combines findings of counselling researchers across various social fields: personal feelings, family life, vocation and employment, childrearing, teaching and learning, health‑ and beauty‑care, culture of coexistence, organisation and management, production, policy‑making and politics, etc. This knowledge, as the literature confirms, is pro‑ duced by researchers from various disciplines and draws both on the humanities and the social sciences, but also on medical, economic and technical sciences. First and foremost, it is generated in research and reflection undertaken by counsello‑ gists as such (Kargulowa, 2004). This knowledge corroborates Edmund Mokrzycki’s claim that reflection on the human being, society, culture, etc. is never empirically 267
I. Studies and Dissertationsungrounded since it is always rooted in the rich resources of one’s own mental and social experiences (Mokrzycki, 2007, p. 158).
Counsellogical research is intrinsically interparadigmatic and builds on both quantitative and qualitative methodologies developed in other, more mature hu‑ manities. On the one hand, its analyses may strictly abide by an ordered procedure, which often leads to discovering new features of participants in counselling pro‑ cesses and their correlations. In such case, changes in external conditions (environment) and mental processes (personality) must be captured so as to enable an analysis of an interplay between the two. On the other hand, the analyses may take on the form of exhaustive conversations which are later meticulously interpreted. (…) Such interpretive work, which is usually performed by a research team who discuss things together, focuses on “reproducing and reconstructing the subjective interpretations of research subjects in order to grasp the interdependencies between their actions and the social context” (Tilimann, 1996, pp. 29, 30‑31).
The contemporary international literature on counselling implies that coun‑ sellogy has been evolving due to such interdisciplinary and multiparadigmatic re‑ search (cf. Bilon, 2010). Currently, as already mentioned, action research is becom‑ ing more and more widespread, with the counselling stakeholders – counsellors, counselees, owners of counselling facilities, social life organisers – becoming, in parallel, ever more articulate in it.
Empirically rooted, the generalised counsellogical knowledge has been equally importantly augmented by findings and discoveries of the more traditional human sciences, such as philosophy, anthropology, sociology, psychology and education‑ al sciences, as well as by more recent communication sciences, such as the theory of social communication, media studies, cultural studies, social politics, and the like.9 They conceptualise and explain human behaviours, emotions and intentions.
Drawing on them, counsellogists can, to a certain extent at least, describe, account for and interpret particular stages of counselling, such as counselees’ behaviours and mental experiences when seeking help, counsellors’ preparation for their role;
both parties’ behaviours and emotions while constructing a counselling relation‑ ship; as well as their behaviours and emotions consequent upon the termination of help provision, i.e. behaviours and emotions which are time‑delayed ramifications of participating in a counselling situation. Counsellogists can discover the contexts of counselling practice and its latent dimensions, as well as changes that take place within it and in its participants.
Though the types of knowledge that counsellogists derive from the afore‑ mentioned sciences are seldom sharply delineated, there are two major models of 9 Anna Bilon, who tries to pinpoint the difference between counsellogy and earlier theories of coun‑ selling, observes that the researchers who previously dealt with counselling – mainly psychologists and psychiatrists – felt bound to their “original specialisations” and anchored their concepts/theo‑ ries in their respective research tenets, while contemporary counsellogists are predominantly inter‑ disciplinary in their take on counselling and counselling‑related phenomena (Bilon, 2012).
268 Journal of Counsellogy 2013 counsellogical knowledge organisation in Poland can be distinguished: an object‑ oriented pattern and a problem‑oriented pattern. The former pertains to descrip‑ tive knowledge of objective facts, which are perceived as either “inclusive of ” or instrumental to counselling. The latter pertains to inquiry into the general laws op‑ erative in the counselling reality, values, personal and social dimensions of counsel‑ ling and its meanings for its participants and broader communities.
Object‑oriented knowledge records and typologically describes various kinds of counselling (e.g. family counselling or vocational guidance, etc.), organisations of counselling work (e.g. individual, group or mass counselling, etc.), or counselling methods and tools (e.g. direct counselling or phone‑, Internet‑, television‑mediated counselling, etc.). Problem‑oriented knowledge is heuristic; it compiles questions and answers generated in the course of studying experiences, feelings, emotions, reflections, intentions and social behaviours and actions implicated by an individ‑ ual’s presence in the “counselling micro‑world.” That is, it is generalized knowledge inferred from analyses of counsellors’ and counselees’ biographies (Minta, 2012;
Wojtasik, 2003; Słowik, 2013), ethnographic studies of facilities in which counsel‑ ling situations take place (Drabik‑Podgórna, 2005; Kargulowa, 1979; Siarkiewicz, 2010; Skałbania, 2012), explorations of routine and creative counselling practices (Czerkawska, 2013; Drabik‑Podgórna [ed.], 2007; Siarkiewicz, 2010a; Słowik, 2013;
Walulik, 2009) both in organisations (Kłodkowska, 2010; Szumigraj, 2011; Mielc‑ zarek, 2009; Wołk, 2009) and in everyday life (Straś‑Romanowska, 2009; Siarkie‑ wicz, 2010; Zierkiewicz, 2004), scrutiny of counselling service reception (Minta, 2012; Słowik, 2013; Trębińska‑Szumigraj, Zielińska‑Pękał, 2013), etc. This knowl‑ edge comes also from findings of researchers of other social fields which are, in one way or another, related to counselling, e.g. education (Czerepaniak‑Walczak, 2006; Gołębniak, 2009; Piorunek, 2004; Potulicka, 1996), psychotherapy (Kozakie‑ wicz, 2013; Kulczycki, 1998), social work (Czerniawska, 1997; Ładyżyński, 2009;
Kozdrowicz, 1993; Marynowicz‑Hetka, 2006), rehabilitation (Oleniacz, 2012), pub‑ lic health (Dec, 2012; Izdebski, 2012), the media (Zielińska‑Pękał [ed.], 2009), and even economy and production (Bańka, 2007; Nowacki, 2001; Rachalska, 1987, and others).10 Counsellogy as a science aspires to be, as Silverman would put it, a sys‑ tem which compiles and systematises accounts of facts, processes and events and seeks to play the narrow-minded precision of laboratory science off against the narrow-mindedness of everyday consciousness and the mass-media and vice versa (Beck, Giddens, Lash, 1994, p. 31).
In the most general terms, counselling researchers seek to find out what counselling is. Having set such a goal, they nevertheless do not pre‑determine the final “outcome,” the end‑product of their pursuit, counsellogy. Doing their research, they try to make the science of counselling conform to the requirements Giddens sees as typical of generalised expert knowledge – explicative knowledge which shows
interdependencies, sometimes formulates cause‑effect principles, but mostly re‑ veals the sense and meaning of counselling. At the same time, they want the sci‑ ence of counselling to stand up to the permanent verification of “the reflexive ev‑ eryday.” Therefore, resorting to Giddens, we could say that in its expertise counsel‑ logical knowledge is in a fundamental sense non-local and decentred; (…) is tied not to formulaic truth but to a belief in corrigibility of knowledge, a belief that depends on a methodical scepticism (…) the accumulation of expert knowledge involves intrinsic processes of specialization; and its resources and content show that trust in
systems, or in experts, cannot readily be generated by means of esoteric knowledge. Hence, to be deemed scientific, this knowledge must be well grounded. And in real life, expertise interacts with growing institutional reflexivity such that there are regular processes of loss and reaproppriation, by people employed in the institu‑ tions, of everyday skills and knowledge (1994, p. 84). Following Jacek Piekarski, we could add that counsellogy is not only a result of inquiry into practice because it contributes to constructing the social image of relations in all its participants (Piekarski, 2007, p. 235).
Towards an Anthropology of Counselling
When construed as a humanistic (psychological‑educational‑sociological) disci‑ pline which is being verified on everyday basis and relies on scientific knowledge rather than on esoteric considerations, counsellogy seems to approximate anthro‑ pology of counselling. In this shape, namely, it is a science about human beings, it probes into their intentional activities rather than into the products of such activi‑ ties, it does not rely on the preconceived human nature and values, and hence it is anchored in philosophical, cultural and social anthropology.
The anthropological model of counselling, as a rule, endorses a hierarchy of research questions. It prioritises general questions about the human being as a rep‑ resentative of the homo species, about its world and its relationship to the world and to itself, about the way it handles the task of self‑creation and being‑in‑the‑world, about its biographical experience and viability of relying on it. These questions go beyond a simple inquiry into “man in a (in this case counselling) situation.” More detailed questions – about mental and social processes that counselling participants are involved in when seeking help, finding themselves in a counselling situation, “constructing guidance” or receiving it – are secondary and derivative of the former set of questions.
To answer the general and more specific questions, counselling researchers draw on educational sciences, andragogy, general psychology, developmental psy‑ chology, psychology of personality or individual differences and also on anthropol‑ ogy, philosophy, ethics and aesthetics. Because counsellogy inquires into general facts and events pertaining to broader processes of social life, which are related 270 Journal of Counsellogy 2013 to counselling or provide its contexts, it articulates also with social anthropology, sociology, economy and politics. Counsellogy poses also questions about values achieved in or through counselling, which foregrounds the cultural embeddedness of support provision and reception, the role of counselling as a product of culture and the relationships between counsellogy and cultural anthropology. Clearly, al‑ though counsellogy is interdisciplinary in its approach to counselling, it can be de‑ fined as “counselling anthropology.” We could even contend that heuristic counsel‑ logical knowledge is first of all anthropological knowledge. We should nevertheless add in passing that this knowledge keeps changing, not least because of the new developments in ontogenetic anthropology, genetics and holistic medicine and the latest findings about the structure and functioning of the central nervous system in humans (cf. e.g. Meijers, 2012; Szendlak, 2012).
Founded upon philosophical, cultural and social anthropology, counselling anthropology today promotes reflexivity as the chief human feature and the im‑ perative of taking responsibility for self‑creation. Wondering “what is ‘reflexivity?’” Scott Lash proposes that to this question two answers must be given. First, there is structural reflexivity in which agency, set free from the constraints of social structure, then reflects on the “rules” and “resources” of such structure; reflects on agency’s social conditions of existence. Second, there is self-reflexivity in which agency reflects on itself. In self-reflexivity, previous heteronomous monitoring of agents is displaced by self-monitoring (1994, p. 115). Clearly, individual reflexivity of a homo sapiens rep‑ resentative pertains, in his opinion, both to the human “essence” as such and to the external world. It is both a reflection and a reflexion.11 Career counselling researchers, members of a research group on life design counselling (Savickas, Nota, Rossier, Dauwalder, Duarte, Guichard, Soresi, van Esbroeck,
2009) approach individual reflexivity in this way and assume that the participants of a counselling interaction enter it purposefully, intentionally and rationally in or‑ der to support the counselee in defining his/her identity and in de/re‑constructing his/her project of being‑in‑the‑world in the existing social and cultural conditions.
The group endorse Jean Guichard’s self-construction model (Guichard, 2009), the concept which, as Guichard himself reports, combines sociological, social‑cog‑ nitive and dynamic approaches. It holds that in the process of self‑creation, people in the postmodern world do use ready‑made identities offered to them by their communities, but they also constantly self‑reflect and choose the option they find the most suitable in a wide array of all variants on offer. The social‑cognitive aspects pertain to identity frameworks and forms which individuals produce. J. Guichard assumes that cognitive structures which are generated in human memory enable the formation of both self‑images and images of others. These specific cognitive structures come into being under the impact of conversations and relationships an