Counseling and psychotherapy encompasses a number of relationship and personal and professional modalities in which the counselor or therapist needs to be proficient (Capuzzi and Stauffer, 2016, p. 1). This paper will discuss some of my views on theories and relationships to help me become a proficient counselor.
After learning about all the theories related to counseling, I found validity in each of the theories. Each theory has helped me with figuring out my integrative approach to counseling.
Being aware of these theoretical approaches will help me as a counselor. As I was learning about the different types of theories, I was also thinking about which ones fit more effectively in my perspectives on human nature, and problems. I also believe that my self-knowledge of my own values, life philosophy, and worldview are equally vital for me to do my counseling job effectively. There are different aspects of different theories that I agree with. I will discuss those different aspects of different theories.
First, I would like to talk about the Psychoanalytic Theory. Psychoanalytic Theory suggests that early life experiences shape ones social interactions and relationships in adulthood (Capuzzi and Stauffer, 2016, p. 76). I do agree with Freud the fact that the power of the past and early traumatic childhood experiences does affect people from living happy, healthy, and well-adjusted lives. High school students are in that transitional phase between childhood and adulthood, where they are trying to find their identity, figuring out their life goals and the meaning of life.
With that being said, I would also like to incorporate some of the principles of the Alderian Theory into my counseling approach. I would use Adlers lifestyle assessment to reveal their family background and early childhood experiences that might have shaped their lives. This assessment would help me to better understand the systems of which they are a part of. I would try to gather as much information from each student about his/her attitudes and the world in with he/she lives in from their point of view. This would include their thoughts, beliefs, values, perceptions, convictions, and conclusions. According to the Alderian Theory, encouragement is one of the most powerful methods available for changing a clients beliefs and stimulating courage (Capuzzi and Stauffer, 2016, p. 138). Another theory that has influenced my approach to counseling is the Person-Centered Theory. The person-centered perception of people is based on five key beliefs (a) people are trustworthy, (b) people innately move towards self-actualization and health, (c) people have inner resources to move themselves in a positive directions, (d) people respond to their uniquely perceived world, and (e) there is an interaction of these key beliefs with external factors (Capuzzi and Stauffer, 2016, p. 172).
My approach to counseling will utilize a several of the different counseling theories that I have learned throughout this course. As a school counselor, I want to help every student develop a positive lifestyle and social interest. I want them to establish positive self-esteem, and help them have high opinion of cooperation over competition. My approach to counseling will depend on what situations my students are dealing with and will be different for each student. The reason for that is because my approach will depend on the situation and theres not a one size fits all approach for anything. Each individuals situation will help me determine which technique, strategy, or tools, that I have learned throughout this course, to assist in the process of change.
My view as a counselor is an important aspect to my job as a school counselor. I feel, as a school counselor, that it will be critical for me to develop that positive relationship with the students, and being able to help them understand that it is okay to make mistakes in life. The critical thing that the students will need to understand, along with the fact that its okay to make mistakes in life, is to also learn something from the mistake. I will earn the trust of my students and then work together with the them to help them resolve their situations. It is an essential role for school counselors to help the students understand that mistakes do happen and to learn from their mistakes. I think it is also essential for them to learn to accept themselves for who they are. Another important aspect to my role as a counselor is assisting the students in the process of change when a traumatic event occurs. Some examples of traumatic events that students might face are physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, being a victim or witnessing a crime, surviving a natural disaster, or a school shooting.
My Therapeutic Goals and How I Will Decide Upon Goals
Goals are set within the context of the subjective meaning of experiences (Capuzzi and Stauffer, 2016, p. 131). Goal setting is an important component of self-efficacy. According to Krumboltz (1966), for individuals to learn necessary skills to apply to a variety of issues, it is important that goals be clear and identifiable (Sharf, 2013, p. 362). My therapeutic goals will depend on the situation of each of my clients and their situations. As for how I will decide upon the goals, I would rather have it be a collaboration between me and the client for the goal making process. I believe, if I collaborate with the client on the goal making process, it would motivate them to accomplish the goals more. In my opinion, if I did the goal-making process all on my own, I think it would make the client feel like the goals are forced upon them. Then theres also the possibility of the client creating goals that stem from his/her own perception of the concerns, if I had them create the goals on their own. Hence why I like the idea of the client and I collaborating together to create their goals.
Relationship Issues I Am Likely to Consider
As a school counselor, I will need to develop several key relationships in my working environment to ensure the achievement of the students. Building a relationship with the teachers, at the school, will help me obtain information about different situations that take place in the classroom. I will not always be involved in the classroom all the time, but the information that I get from the teachers will help me know what is going on in the classroom with the students. Another important relationship, that I will need to build on, is with the students parents. This relationship will give me some insight to the students life at home, as well as the students relationships with their parents from their parents perspective. Developing a relationship with the principal of the school will be another critical relationship that I would need to work on as a school counselor. The principal is a big component to the success of the school and its students. As for my relationship with my students, I would try to be an empathetic counselor as I do think that is an integral component for the therapy to be successful. Our book states that, Carl Rogers believed that each human being is always striving obtain the best of themselves (Capuzzi and Stauffer, 2016, p. 17). I agree with Rogers about how each individual has the potential for self-actualization, where they find the drive. I like this positive view of people and want to listen to what my students are saying and encourage them to come to solutions on their own.
Central Techniques I Am Likely to Employ
I would utilize several different types of techniques from several different theories. As I mentioned earlier, there is no one size fits all approach for everyone. Some techniques will work better for some people, while others will work better for other people. Earlier I had mentioned the use of the Alderian Lifestyle assessment. This would be helpful in determining early childhood influences. Another technique, that I noticed that I would like to utilize with high school students, would be the ABC model from the Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT). It would help the students change their irrational thoughts and help them understand the cruel circle of the self-blaming process, which also changes their self-defeating behaviors. In my opinion, positive thoughts and the way we see are selves are important keys to success. I would also utilize the Rational Emotive Imagery, to see where the students imagine themselves in a year, five years, and ten years from now. I would use the WDEP to help my students come up and implement plans to enable them to be effective in their lives.
How I Will Address Issues of Cultural Diversity
An awareness of diversity addresses the counselor or therapists openness and motivation to understand more about his or her own diversity as well as well as the cultural differences that clients bring to the helping relationship (Capuzzi and Stauffer, 2016, p. 19). I would approach counseling through the perspective of the clients world, meaning I would not let my own cultural values or bias take superiority over a clients cultural values or bias. This would help me gain knowledge, personal awareness, and sensitivity of different cultures and bias.
Besides helping me figure out my integrative approach to counseling, these theories have helped me understand a few things about my life. I utilized some of these theories and applied them to my life. This process helped me be able to better understand the counseling process and how it can help our clients. This process helped me increase my self-knowledge of my own values, life philosophy, and worldview since it is equally vital for me to do my job effectively. I will discuss how some of the theories, from this course, has help me reflect on my life and choices I have made.
The Alderian Theory really opened my eyes about how family systems has had an effect on my life and choices. It helped me understand that my family environment is where I learned how to interact with others. Growing up, I was considered the problem child and the reason for that was because of the change of the family constellation. I am also extremely sensitive and feel responsible towards my younger siblings in the family. Adler was also right about how the family constellation can be changed with major illnesses. Although there were not any major illnesses in my family, but I was born deaf. And after reading about the Alderian theory, I can see how my deafness has influenced my family constellation. My mother always placed the responsibility of my younger brother, who was a year younger than me, to watch over me and make sure I stayed out of trouble. Early recollections, another aspect of the Alderian theory, helps me to better understand how I view myself and others. It was helpful in showing me what important about my thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and how I viewed the world.
Cognitive Behavioral Theory also helped me see the patterns of thinking or behavior behind my difficulties, and helped me learn how to change the way I feel about things. The ABC model has really helped me see how I can change my thinking process so I dont get discouraged or depressed. I remember, when I was younger, getting depressed every time I would say hello to a friend at school or the mall and they didnt say hello back. The ABC model helped me see that there are several possible reasons why they didnt say hello back. Maybe they were too busy and probably occupied with something else. That could have prevented me from feeling depressed and thinking that they dont like me anymore.
I have always known, internally, that human beings have a choice in everything in their lives. There may be times where it feels like we do not have a choice, but in reality we do have a choice. We are all in control of our own choices, and every behavior is a choice. Choice theory explains why and how human beings function and develop, and the WDEP system provides a delivery system for helping oneself and others remediate deficiencies, make better choices, and become more fully self-actualized (Capuzzi and Stauffer, 2013, p. 313). Utilizing the WDEP system, has helped me identify my wants, describe the direction of my life, determine if it is effective, and make simple and attainable action plans. One example of how I could have utilized the WDEP system is with my desire of obtaining my Masters degree. I could have looked at my desire of obtaining my Masters degree as a want, and then looked at the direction of my life in obtaining that goal. Back then I did not even really think about how the direction of my life was affecting my goal of obtaining my Masters degree. I would have realized that the direction that I was taking was not effective and could have come up with a better plan. That better plan would have made it a lot easier to get into graduate school. Now I realize how I can utilize the WDEP system for any aspect of my life to reevaluate my direction of my life in achieving my goals.
The last time I went to a counseling session was back when I was going through a divorce with my ex-wife. I recall meeting with the counselor and trying to deal with the situation at hand. The counselor was using a person-centered approach. Human beings are viewed by the person-centered theorist as always striving to obtain the best of themselves (Capuzzi and Stauffer, 2013, p. 169). I was struggling with feeling like loser because I failed my marriage and had not graduated from college at the time. The counselor asked open-ended questions and tried to help me see that I could figure this out on my own. By utilizing active listening, the counselor was communicating to me that what I had to say to him was very important. Every time the counselor reflected on what I had just said, it helped me see a better clarity in the things I was saying. At the end of the counseling session, it gave me a clarity of what I needed to do in order to get out of the ditch that was going on in my life at the moment,
One of the intervention strategies, from the Jungian analytical theory, that I found interesting was the dream analysis strategy. Sharf (2008) wrote that most dreams relate to the clients past or current life (subjective) and some reflect archetype and are significant because they reveal the collective unconscious and can be analyzed to expose symbolic meaning (objective) (Sharf, 2013, p. 106-107). I recall one weird dream I had before my divorce with my ex-wife. After the divorce, I had told a counselor about the dream that I had. In this dream, my ex-wife had died in a plane crash and I was left to care for our daughter as a single father. This dream happened at about three to four months before our separation took place. And now that I look back at that dream, I realize that my unconscious probably knew that something was not right between me and my ex-wife.
One of the things that I have learned, that can be used to assist me in my own personal development process is from the transpersonal theory. Transpersonalism views the development of higher consciousness as being necessary for transforming peoples lives, a belief universally reflected in all transpersonal theories of human development (Sharf, 2013, p. 393). I can utilize the meditation strategy to help relieve some of the stress that I will be dealing from time to time. Some other good techniques that would be beneficial for me are affirmations and journaling.
Challenges I May Face and How I Would Address Them
Like the clients, counselors will face challenges in their everyday aspect of their jobs. Being aware of these challenges and figuring out ways to address them will only help us counselors bet better equipped to assist our clients. One challenge I know I will face is the issue of cultural diversity due to the fact that I will be working with students from all walks of life. As mentioned earlier, I will need to keep an open mind about my students cultural background. This understanding, based on both education and life-experience, should enable counselors or therapists to increase their sensitivity to the issues that confronts clients, should enable them to develop insight into the many variables that affect client, and should enable them to place clients issues, problems, and concerns into their proper perspectives (Capuzzi and Gross, 2015. p. 15).
Time management is crucial when helping students in school. Schools dont have flexible schedules. So I have to figure out ways to work around instruction time so students dont miss out on important lessons in their classes. I always need to anticipate at least one breakdown during the day. It is very easy to get stressed out when it feels like there is always someone to see or something to get done, but we need to learn how to better manage our time to help makes things go more smoothly in our day. Its always good to have a tentative plan for each day.
The school counselor is often thought of as the person who works with the students to schedule their courses and so on. But that is not all that counselors do, the workload of school counselors is much more than just working with students on their course selections and scheduling. One thing I know I would need to work on is educating the teachers and administrators about that, and also work with them on figuring out ways to get our students successful inside and outside of school.
Stress management is another challenge I will need to be mindful of. With the multitude of tasks that a school counselor deal with on a daily basis, theres always the possibility of becoming burned out with the job and its tasks. In the education field, burnout is a not an uncommon thing. So I will need to utilize some of the stress management techniques mentioned earlier, such meditation and journaling.
I will also need to be prepared to handle a multitude of problems that students might come up to me with. Students, these days, are dealing with a lot of issues. Bullying is one of those issues that students come across. Technology has created a new form of bullying, cyber-bullying, which makes it hard to distinguish if it was a joke or bullying. Cyber-bullying is also anonymous, which makes it harder to figure out who did it. I will need to figure out way to be able to identify students who are victims of bullying, and those who are displaying bullying behavior.
Cyberbullying can cause students to consider taking their own life. Suicide is another thing that I will need to be mindful and aware of. It will be a challenge trying to figure out which students are exhibiting behaviors of self-harm or considering suicide. I will need to find community resources that can provide support for students, that are exhibiting these types of behaviors, and their parents.
Another challenge, that is also increasing as the years pass by, is the mental health of our students. I know I am not qualified to diagnose mental disorders, but I can refer them to a psychologist. As a counselor, identifying students who might be at risk for issues regarding their mental health will be a challenge. Some might just need some short-term support or referrals to the community agencies or groups that can provide more long-term support for them.
Its definitely a huge challenge to create an effective school counseling program, that collaborates with teachers, families, and administrators to create an environment promoting student success, student engagement, reasonable access to educational opportunities, and makes the students feel safe and supported.