Skills acquired for use in my profession
TOC o “1-3” h z u Introduction. PAGEREF _Toc386113697 h 1Skills acquired for use in my profession. PAGEREF _Toc386113698 h 2Principles needed to operate smoothly as a counselor. PAGEREF _Toc386113699 h 3Challenges facing starting counselors at their workplace. PAGEREF _Toc386113700 h 5
Introduction.When I thought of what I wanted to do after college, the first thing that came to mind was helping people. Just like Corey (2010) who knew she “wanted to help people long before she studied counseling at school” (p. 8), I knew my calling was going to be that of helping others cope better with the curve balls life threw at them. I decided to immerse myself totally in the trade that would enable me achieve this dream, and it happened to be the same one I had just finished training for in college. Since counseling needed open and effective communication lines, I had decided to minor in communication and felt this would better my experience as well as that of my clients.
Counseling entails a lengthy training period during which one is subjected to the rigors of assessment and analysis as well as problem solving as a team. It is not an easy undertaking to for someone to approach another especially someone detached from them in terms of relations for advice or assistance in addressing a personal issue, which is why I strove to perfect my skill acquisition through thoroughness in all my study and research. This is partly the reason why Walsh (2010) states that the practise ”promotes social and economic justice by empowering clients who experience oppression or vulnerability to problem situation” (p. 18)
Being a sensitive person, I again felt that this line of work would suit me since in execution; it also needs sensitivity to problems experienced by clients. It needs someone who is very much in touch with the pain and confusion that characterize many of the clients that need counseling hence from my perspective, feel adequately armed from an emotional perspective. Sensitivity to client issues goes a long way in establishing behavioral change, as Corey and Corey(2010) suggest when they say, “you will be required to develop interventions tailored for short term and specific behavioral change” (p.130).
Skills acquired for use in my profession.
In the course of my study period, I have been facilitated with a number of skills that should go a long way in enabling me assist clients live better lives. The first is the Carl Rogers ‘emphatic statement’. This is used to assist or educate clients that are unaware of their emotions or emotional state hence opens them up for further help. It has been demonstrated that counselors using the Rogerian model observe a greater degree of success in assisting clients identify problems. It is simply done by reflecting what the clients says back to him/her along with a ‘feeling word’, those that identify pain, anger, anguish, loss or other emotions. This process assists the clients better identify his problem. In outlining the importance of supervision during training, Carol (2001) states the different focus points of this skill as,” client-centered, helper-centered and process-centered” , depending on emphasis required.
The second skill I learnt was that of establishing safety within the client. One way I learnt of doing this, especially in clients without knowledge of counseling skills and processes, is by engaging them in lighter conversation. This enables them lower their guard and reduce defensive behavior such as keeping quiet or circumventing questions. At the same time, you should be careful so as not to offer the client a way out or an escape route from their problem by being too comfortable. This is especially important in clients with multiple issues at the same time working with normal people. Woodside and McClam(2002) investigates this circumstances and developed a treatment plan, with special interest on cases where, “severe physical physical problems affect other areas, such as psychological functions, relationships with family, vocational limitations, spiritual needs and financial difficulties” (p.132).
The third skill I learnt is that of validating interventions. The counselor needs to validate his/her activities in the process of assisting the client. One example of how this is done is the use of statements such as,”It is OK to feel sadness and remorse” or “it is OK to fell anger”.
Principles needed to operate smoothly as a counselor.There are some basic principles that every counselor needs to abide to in order to be professional and effective in his/her work. A client will often be the one visiting you, which means your setting or place of work needs to be just right. A large expensively furnished is not necessary since privacy and confidentiality are what the clients are after when they need assistance. The office or site where counseling takes place should have no disruptions in the form of ringing telephones or invading members of staff. If possible, the location should be far from noise emanating from mining, transport or industrial activity in order for communication to be totally efficient. The client should be able to choose his sear, which means I would arrange my set up to facilitate this, as well as presenting myself in a welcoming manner.
The second principle, with which I would abide, is the process of clearly understanding my client. These clients come for assistance due to many circumstances, ranging from court orders, through death and loss, to divorce. With all these reasons, come the many expectations. Some are there as just a requirement and have the eagerness to end this process, others are actually there to escape guilt and then there is the genuine client, with a serious problem but very reluctant to engage in counseling. I would device tactics in my interaction with these people to attend to all of them accordingly, for example; the reluctant clients need to have certain strategies applied to them. The first and probably most crucial is I refusing to be the client’s reluctance’s target. In addition, I would show confidence and refuse to be intimidated. Showing the client the importance of counseling as opposed to the perceived discomfort would also assist a reluctant client open up.
I understand the importance of a profile to the operation of a counselor, being one myself. With this in mind, the openness to change, adhesiveness to morals and God, as well as having a sense of humor would go a long way in my growth as well as the development of clients. Sensitivity to people’s feelings, openness and sincerity as well as the development of my own style of counseling are also important hence would be cultivated.
Depth counseling being a reserve for the experienced therapist, would leave me to decide on what best technique of counseling is applicable for the variety of cases. Supportive counseling would be a preserve of those having issues with standing by themselves, as I dedicate use confrontational counseling for the bold and those needing to be shown their mistakes. Educative counseling would be adequate especially in young clients while the aged might need to be reminded to reignite their connection with God, whereby I would resort to spiritual counseling.
For my placement as a junior counselor, I am going to need some specific skills in order to perform my designated tasks well. The first and most important is communication skills. Counseling is a process that is totally reliant on the whole communication process. I am expected to have well refined skills in detecting, analyzing and responding to messages, be they verbal, written, body, touch or vocal.
Mind skills present themselves as the second set of skills I am expected to have for my placement. Using cognitive therapies, defined as processes of trying to change one’s self-defeating attitudes into more positive one, I would ensure my counseling processes to guide external behavior as well as enable thinking that facilitates rather than undermines skilled external communication. In achieving this, I would utilize the three central mind skills that are the creation of self-talk, rules and perceptions.
A clear understanding the client’s internal frame of reference is also critical in addressing his/her underlying problems. I would achieve this via trying to change positively the way my clients communicate their feelings and relate to others’. In doing this, I know I would better connect with the client.
Challenges facing starting counselors at their workplace.
When starting off in their career, counselors face some hard challenges which make the process of getting used to their new profession and workplace hard. Beginning counselors may be too eager in their advice and direction giving, or may expect clients to change too quickly, without first understanding the many emotional, spiritual and relationship-based factors which strongly tie a client’s habits of responding in place.
They may not yet have enough knowledge and know-how of the most effective techniques and methods for resolving some tricky problems. Panic disorder, eating disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and depression, for example, all need specific and diverse interventions learned by many years of careful research, as well as vast experience in practicing what one has learned. Beginning therapists may not be aware of the vital importance of taking breaks from work, not seeing too many clients in one day, or not “giving” too much of themselves in therapy, making them more prone to burn out and an early exit from their careers.
Sometimes counselors come across scenarios for which they are not well trained or are not adequately experienced to handle. After war in relatively peaceful countries, counselors there find it a bit hard to provide therapy for the affected and afflicted since the consequences of war isn’t what clients they are used to present to them. This could provide a problem especially for a new counselor like me since I have never been in a situation of war. This could result in the counselor himself requiring counseling himself as a result of the trauma.
Nefer(2009) points out that it can be quite draining listening to others problems the whole day and then simple going home. This is going to be a hardship I might need some getting used to as I embark on my journey into counseling. The need to have a support system in your workplace is highly emphasized since this keeps you balanced and centered. The tendency to get attached needs to be keenly observed as well as maintaining a clear line between involvement and caring detachment. I clearly understand the need to maintain boundaries between my life and the clients’.
Suicidal clients are always a risk for anyone involved in the counseling profession. McAdams & Foster(2000) reported how out of over 300 professional counselors nearly 25% had interacted with a client who had committed suicide. This news can be quite unnerving for a new counselor like me but I intend to commit myself to identifying potential suicide cases and putting safeguards in place. Suicidal clients who live alone may for example need to be relocated to their family or friends, or vice versa. In addition to the trauma suffered when a client commits suicide, the need to prepare you for the possibility of a legal battle is always high. Families tend to blame counselors for such deaths since they believe counselors have the fool-proof ability to prevent suicide and bodily harm which is not the case.
As a counselor, one needs to severe their attachments to parts of the job they have no influence or control over. Many counselors mistakenly believe they can assist all cases and clients bought to/ that come to them. The occurrence or existence of cases that one cannot remedy leads to feelings of failure and regret which might affect morale and in worst case scenarios lead to depression. As a starting counselor, I intimately understand that I cannot assist everyone who walks into and out of my door.
Reluctance and lack of motivation in clients presents problematic circumstances for virtually every counselor. Certain areas of work always have these kinds of clients where they themselves don’t want to participate but are forced by circumstances. These clients may work in government organizations and private companies that have counseling organized in large numbers, presenting even greater problem to counseling personnel, especially young ones. Resentment may brew and eventually confrontation and violence ensue if these situations are handles carelessly.
Sometimes counselors find themselves faced by foreigners and/or people with minimal or no education at all. This presents another major problem since communication, avenue of counseling, is completely curtailed. Travel to foreign lands and the rural interiors exposes an inexperienced counselor to this scenario and might render the whole process of counseling useless.
Cultural discrepancies present yet another problem for counselors as clients tend to sometimes emanate from cultural back grounds that are totally different from those of counselors. A good example would be a female counselor getting a male Muslim client. This presents a variety of problems since Islam has specific requirements for female and male interaction. In addition, the Muslim client may retreat from the process due to other religious factors such as covering of the hair and dress codes. In address such differences, we need to exhibit a marked sensitivity towards other cultures and religions as well as create an environment sterile of bias.
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