Counsellors' perceptions of their role in working with people who are HIV positive or have AIDS
A critical review of the literature shows little evidence of the benefits of counselling for people infected with the HTV virus and rigorous follow-up studies are generally lacking. Authors reviewed in the literature urge the need for training in counselling. However, whether counseling training is a necessity in the context of HFV/AIDS is debatable as no evidence has yet suggested that trained counsellors are more effective than untrained ones. Therefore, it is necessary to know-how counsellors perceive their role in relation to people with HTV/AIDS. It is also essential to know what skills and training they regard as necessary for working with this group of clients. This thesis reports the results of two separate studies. Twelve questionnaires were returned and 3 interviews were conducted in the preliminary study among a small sample of people responsible for counselling women with HTV/AIDS. The results demonstrated that most counselling for this group of clients was not carried out by trained counsellors. It was concluded that counselling was not a central response to those clients. Acknowledgement of the limitations of this preliminary’ study led to the main study which was conducted among experienced and student counsellors on the perceptions of their role in working with people with HTV/AIDS.A number of significant differences were found between the perceptions of 30 experienced counsellors and 46 students in the questionnaire survey of the main study. However, experienced counsellors did not appear to feel better prepared than students in working with people with HIV/AIDS. Inconsistent results were found which suggested no agreement about whether counselling for people with HIV/AIDS required different skills and training to counselling other groups of clients. Furthermore, inconsistency between responses to different questions suggested that although respondents acknowledged a role in reducing the spread of HIV infection, they had not adequately thought through the implications of this for their counselling practice. The implications for counsellor training and supervision were discussed.