Psychology in Consulting

By Ishika Vimal

Usually when people hear the word ‘Consulting’, they think of complicated spreadsheets, decision making for business finance and coming up with corporate strategies to make a firm bigger and better. While these perceptions are not entirely wrong, they fail to incorporate the vast and diverse field of consulting. A consultant gives expert advice in the area of their specialisation to help the firm grow your current self to your desired self. 

But this expertise need not only be in facts and figures! A special branch of consulting in the Human Resource department employs psychology to find solutions in the areas of employee engagement, compensation, employee benefits, retirement, mergers and talent mobility. This new line of consultants emerged from management consultants to supplement their efforts through assessments and interventions at individual, group and organisational levels. Since these roles require a deep understanding of human behaviour, most of these consultants are typically licensed as psychologists rather than management.

Approaches of Consultation

To briefly go over how these consultants approach their consultations, the below mentioned are the different approaches based on case orientations:

  • Client-Centred Case Consultation
  • It focuses on advising others on how to best help the individual client.
  • Consultant functions as a specialist who assesses the client, makes a diagnosis and makes recommendations on how the consultee might modify their dealings with the client.

Consultee-Centred Case Consultation

  • It focuses on providing the best help to the consultee to pinpoint difficulties and develop new skills to better fit their job profile.
  • The primary goal here is to eliminate the shortcomings in the consultee’s professional abilities that are responsible for the arising difficulties. Meanwhile, keeping client improvement as a secondary goal.

Consultee-Centred Administrative Consultation

  • The goal is to improve the professional functioning of members of an administrative team.
  • The consultant generally, in this approach, agrees to work with the organisation on a long-term basis to resolve the issues that have or may arise.

Behavioural Consultation Approach

  • Involves indirect, problem-solving services based on the given behavioural complications and provides specific recommendations regarding problem identification and resolution.
  • The consultant becomes an authority figure in this approach who assumes primary responsibility for maintaining the consulting relationships and case orientation.

Organization Consultation

  • Consultants need to be particularly aware of the interrelationship between an organization and its environment to fully gauge the influencing factors of the problem statements.
  • The goals of meeting human needs with organisational productivity are linked in this approach.

The Need For Ethics In Consulting Psychology

“Problematic behaviour is often embedded in a social system. To change the behaviour, it is necessary to change the dynamics of the system. This requires learning about organizations and the systems in which they are embedded.”

Consulting is carried out in the field of activity in which the ethical code is simply necessary but very difficult to enforce. In an industry that is so dependent on individual reputation, personal relationships and mutual trust, the presence of psychology consultants becomes a necessity.