Thursday, August 18, 2011


From time to time, I review the papers I've written during my schooling to become a counselor.  I was surprised to see that most of my opinions had not changed during the time of my training.  Perhaps this is because I was already over 50 when I began my education and I knew myself well enough.

The following is an account of my counseling worldview.  It is telling who I am and am becoming.
I view the goals of counseling and therapy generally and specifically.  Specific goals would depend on clients’ issues. 

Generally, I would try to make sure that clients are respected, validated, understood and listened to—to let them know that someone cares and that there is hope and help for their issues.  My main goal would be to help alleviate pain and suffering when it is unnecessary.  I would also try to imbue clients with a feeling of empowerment through the use of their talents and abilities, and also inspire the concept of freewill to help facilitate this.

If I can basically accomplish these goals without the client feeling judged, belittled, intimidated, manipulated, or undervalued, then I think I will have done a good job.
Regarding the focus and the theory…this is also difficult for me to narrow down.  It seems all theories we’ve studied so far have valid points and using those points I could facilitate a holistic approach.  Since the medical model is moving toward a more holistic approach, perhaps the therapeutic model would benefit by this same approach.

Humans are so complex, it would seem to require addressing as many focuses as possible, e.g. self-actualization, behavioral change through cognition, understanding of one’s past and unconscious forces, how the culture and family impacts clients, as well as environment.  

It would be ideal if all aspects would be considered.  Alas, in today’s therapeutic environment, it is so difficult to have that luxury. If I had to focus on one or two aspects, it would be cognition and family systems.

It is difficult to pinpoint all my influences.  Probably, the most influential aspect of my therapeutic beliefs is my personal experience with self-evolution and my work experience.  I think that also my natural inclination to dig deeply and analyze others’ behaviors influence me.  

As far as ethics, I’m sure I’ve been influenced by my religious upbringing.  But my moral background has also been solidified by my lifespan development.

Another aspect that influences my belief in and resolve to address multicultural issues comes from my personal experience as a German immigrant and from 17 years visiting many countries and living abroad.  I have always been fascinated by people with contrasting beliefs and life styles.  These experiences have opened my eyes and have served to increase my acceptance of differences in peoples and understanding of the struggles of immigrants and varying cultural differences.  

Being a female in other cultures also has been enlightening and has served to highlight this aspect of my personal struggles, therefore, making me more aware and open to gender and cultural issues clients may present.
I feel very strongly that, without the appropriate moral approach of using integrity, respect, kindness, warmth and just being myself through all the therapeutic manipulations, counseling would be dangerous and perhaps even an aberration.  

Ultimately, I would strive to do my best and hope that it is good enough.  Pan-ultimately, I would try everything to have clients leave therapy no worse off (that is, DO NO HARM), and hopefully, better able to deal with themselves and their lives.
I would ask myself:
  1. Can you do enough research to trust the therapeutic model you have chosen?
  2. Are you applying the best model to suit individual clients and their needs?  
  3. Can you treat all clients, regardless of their issues and abilities, with equal regard and effort?  
  4. How can you know or come to some kind of resolution regarding which theories are efficacious and valid?  
  5. How will you address spirituality with clients?  What would it take to overcome prejudices that you may find out you have?
    I would ask other therapists:  
  1. What works best for you?  Why? 
  2. Why is whatever focus you have chosen seem most important to you?  How do you handle your sessions on days when you are tired or emotionally exhausted?  
  3. How do you unload at the end of a very tiring or emotionally draining session?  
  4. How do you deal with groups or families effectively?  
  5. What motivates you to continue and strive in this field, even though it is demanding?  
  6. What successes have you had with which theories?  
  7. How many people do you feel you have really helped, whose lives you have significantly positively impacted during your practice?  
  8. How do you see your role as therapist?  
  9. What is the most important aspect of being a counselor to you?  
  10. How do you deal with burnout?  
  11. How do you deal with bureaucracies (mental health centers, etc.)?  How do you try to rectify or rationalize aspects of community mental health care that may go against your beliefs and/or ethics?

This paper is a glimpse into the view of a interning therapist.  I think, because many people have gone to therapists, it may be interesting for them to understand what the therapist might be thinking and how they may decide to deal with certain mental health issues.

It is not often people have a glimpse into therapists' hearts, their motivations, their limitations, etc.  (Well, to be fair and more accurate, at least mine.)

No comments: