Counseling is a branch of psychology. To counsel means to engage in guidance or to be involved in an exchange of ideas with someone who is associated with that counseling field of study.
Professional counseling involves the practice and application of principles that relate to; mental health of individuals and or groups; psychology and human developments that help in addressing issues concerning personal growth, wellness and development.
Counseling involves effective listening, untangling of thoughts and emotions, expression of heartfelt problems and acceptance of matters that cannot be changed using various techniques.
1. What are the most essential characteristics of a helping relationship?
A helping relationship is one that has a connection between the counselor and the counselee.
Below are some characteristics of a connected helping relationship:
The counselor ought to be empathetic. This means he should be in a position to put himself in the shoes of his client and understand what he is going through. To do this he has to be observant to the client’s body language and expressions.
Unconditional Positive Regard: This means that the helper has positive feeling about the client and does not look at there condition as inability but should look at it as a hurdle that the client will move past with the right assistance. This involves respect and treating clients as unique individuals. (Hoffman, 1994).
Clients should be viewed as unique. Helpers should work with individual clients to identify their strengths and weaknesses. They should avoid biasness.
Encourage expression of feelings: Clients should be encouraged to speak openly and honestly without fear.
This involves the case worker reducing the distance between him and the client by being himself not being defensive and being spontaneous. The helper can respond by acting up to there believes and feelings, ensuring that there responses on both verbal and non verbal match and being able to express themselves naturally.
Ability to communicate ideas clearly and specifically. (Watts, 2003).
The case worker should have professional knowledge of the psychology fields and concepts.
The case workers should be able to make different opinions on different aspects and should have a broad perspective of thought.
Case workers should ensure that they maintain client information as confidential at all times.
This helps build trust and thus a helping relationship.
2. Explain in detail the key elements that you must cover in the first session with a new client and why you must cover them.
The initial counseling session, involves three evaluations: Psychosocial history of the client, brief mental status exam and an evaluation of the problem.
Record of Psychosocial History
This assessment is carried out by almost all counseling agencies. The client fills information that ranges from; family and relationship history to work education, nutrition and levels of exercise, spirituality medical history, history of sexual abuse, family history of suicide and whether the client has ever contemplated suicide, legal issues from arrests to criminal charges and imprisonment, and even financial problems. The client also gives information on his benchmarks and milestones in his history that are related to the therapy that will be employed. (Hoffman, 1994).
Assessing client’s mental status
This involves the study of the client’s appearance and behavior, in terms of age, height, weight, clothing, grooming, posture, eye contact and speech. The therapists should also study attention and alertness of the client, mood, perception and thought, orientation, recent memory, long-term memory, abstract, insight and coping ability, decision making among others.
Evaluation of the problem
This is a process of problem definition and problem presentation, the patient defines and pours out the feelings of what has been going on with him. The counselor is attentive and compares the results obtained from the psychosocial history and the mental status evaluation. The counselor tries to form a coherent picture from the information that he given by the counselee and tries to figure out the exact diagnosis and risks involved with the situation at hand. The counselor then informs the client about his personal interpretation of the condition. This requires
the counselor’s intense knowledge and understanding of the ideology of medical counseling. (Maniacci, 2005)
3. After studying the various theories of counseling, which one(s) will you seek to learn more about and use in your own practice of counseling? ( Adlerian Therapy, Existential Therapy, Person-Centered Therapy, Reality Therapy, Gestalt Therapy, Behavior Therapy, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Family Systems Therapy, Postmodern Approaches)
During my practice of counseling I would choose the following theories:
Adler in his theory explains that the sense of self and the ego are central core of any human beings personality. Our ego is formed by the external factors that surround our lives. The community we live in and the external world forms our reason and common sense. The ego affects our interpersonal skills, our defenses, self esteem and our feeling of self worth.
According to Adler he way an individual sees himself in the society can affect his behavior and personality and to avoid this, the therapists should ensure that he is empathetic with the kind of society that the individual lives in.
Adler believes that birth order is one of the factors that influence our ego. Children born first receive more attention therefore end up wanting to be at the centre of attention when they grow up. The last borne is always rebellious and like to be pampered. The middle child always feels left out is very stubborn and loves to be alone.
In this kind of therapy, early childhood experiences are taken into consideration and also an individual’s failures and successes in life also noted. (Watts, 2003).
This therapy put emphasis in an individuals meaning of life. How does an individual view aspects of life such as love and livelihood? This kind of therapy aims at creating a sense of independence in the client. People nee to understand that they control their own destinies by the choices they make in life. It helps the counselee to see the way he has allowed other people to decide fro him in all of this matters. Individuals should decide on what drives them and make sure that they follow their dreams.
In this kind of therapy the therapists seeks to find the symptom or the problem at hand in order to solve it or change the way an individual responds when inflicted by certain emotions or feelings. In behavioral therapy it is assumed that there are no underlying conditions so they seek to change only the current eminent symptoms this type of therapy takes a shorter time than other types. (Hoffman, 1994).
4. Choose at least two techniques from your chosen theory and explain how and for what client issues you would use them for your clients in treatment.
In dealing with my client issues, I would choose above all the Behavioral Therapy. This is because it is less time consuming and goes straight to the point. Below are some of the techniques that I would use in the Behavioral Therapy;
This technique of behavioral change involves two processes; flooding and implosion. Flooding involves exposing the client to the situation that is causing a certain behavior or reaction. If the counselee has a certain fear of spiders exposing them to spiders for a while will reduce their fear. Implosion involves imagination of the specific situation that is causing that kind of fear. This helps weaken the feelings being experienced.
In this technique, live models are used. Clients observe other people dealing with situations that are causing them anxiety. This method has proved very effective especially in dealing with phobias and sexual related disorders.
Operant Conditioning Therapy
This is done by using the reward and punishment principles. The client is promised a reward if they act in a certain manner and a punishment if does not behave in the manner required. Therapy especially used on children. (Carlson, 2005)
5. What life experience(s) of yours will help you work effectively with a wide range of clients?
During my life so far I have had the opportunity to have worked in a Family Court. I have also
taught classes relating to divorce and separation, how to avoid and cope with it.
I was also a school teacher for five years in a nursery school and also have my own day care for children below the age of 5. I have a certificate in counseling from a recognized institution.
6. What client populations do you feel that you would be able to work with and why?
I feel more comfortable working with families and marriages due to my experience in the Family court and the divorce and separation classes.
7. What client populations do you feel you would NOT be able to work with and why?
The client population that I wouldn’t like to work with is the children. Children are in most circumstances not able to express themselves thus making it difficult to understand what they are feeling. (Maniacci, 2005)
In this time and era where the world we live in is involved with trauma and is overwhelmed with problems and deceit , counseling, which in the past was left aside for mentally ill people is now being sought by families and individuals.
If we all had a good understanding of our inner feelings and reactions and stayed in touch with matters that are bringing feelings of depression, self worthlessness, anxiety and addictions I believe the causes of decreased mental health will be under control.
From child birth we are taught how to handle and deal with all sorts of circumstances but matters that relate to emotional health are left out. Poor mental health affects the performance of routine tasks, disrupts healthy relationships and causes anger and mood swings. Emotional health impacts positively on self image, education, relationships, sleep, eating and general physical health.
Mental health can be improved by; eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly and choosing the right exercise, reducing stress by doing breathing exercises, increasing self esteem by ignoring negative messages and taking good care of ourselves, and also exercising the mind by engaging ourselves with puzzles and trivia.
Carlson, J. Watts, R. & Maniacci, M. (2005). Adlerian Therapy: Theory and Practice.
Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Hoffman, E. (1994). The Drive for Self: Alfred Adler and the Founding of Individual Psychology.
New York: Addison-Wesley Co.
Slavic, S. & Carlson, J. (2005). Readings in the Theory of Individual Psychology. New York:
Watts, R. (2003). Adlerian, cognitive, and constructivist therapies: An integrative dialogue. New
Watts, R. & Carlson, J. (1999). Interventions and strategies in counseling and psychotherapy.
New York: Accelerated Development/Routledge.
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