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Counseling and Psychotherapy of Work Dysfunctions Essay

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Updated: Jan 26th, 2021


Given the fact that, due to specifics of today’s highly dynamic and secularized post-industrial living, more and more people grow to perceive psychological therapy as the key to ensuring their existential well-being, it represents the matter of foremost importance for psychologists to be able to choose in favor of a proper methodological framework when it comes to counseling. This, however, often proves challengeable, as of today, there exists a certain dichotomy in how councilors, affiliated with different schools of psychology, address the task.

For example, according to McGraw, Zvonkovic, and Walker (2000), it namely the utilization of feminist approach to counseling, which appears to be most suitable when helping married couples is being concerned, as positivist methods of counseling are being procedurally inflexible: “Traditional positivist (counseling) methodologies lack an imaginative capacity to transcend present social arrangements” (p. 69). Nevertheless, since most Western societies remain rationale-driven, which presupposes its members’ tendency to address life’s challenges in essentially rationalistic manner; there are good reasons to believe that the deployment of positivist approach to counseling is being perfectly adequate.

As it was rightly pointed out to by Egan (2010): “Rational models help clients bring much needed discipline and order into their chaotic lives” (p.16). Apparently, the extent of just about any psychotherapeutic model’s suitability can only be measured in regards to the effectiveness/ineffectiveness of its practical deployment. In its turn, the extent of psychotherapeutic model’s effectiveness largely depends on counselors and clients’ eagerness to treat each other with respect, in the personal and professional sense of this word.

In my paper, I will aim to explore this thesis even further, while making references to specifically Egan’s ‘Skilled-Helper Model’, as such that is being based on a rationale-driven approach to providing clients with psychological help, which in its turn, implies the high degree of model’s qualitative measurability.

Main part

When dealing with clients who seek help, it represents the matter of crucial importance for councilors to be able to gain a comprehensive insight into the very essence of clients’ psychological anxieties. In its turn, this would require them to act as particularly attentive listeners, while being exposed to how clients articulate their problems. According to Thompson (2003): “Listening is an art. Full attention is given both to what the client is saying and to other nonverbal cues such as posture and facial expression” (p. 259).

The reason why therapists should never skip an opportunity of indulging in empathetic/reflective listening, while with clients, is that by doing it they will be able to recognize so-called ‘blind spots’, which Egan identifies as dysfunctional ways of thinking, on the part of clients.

For example, when the client appears to make excessive references to a seemingly insignificant incident that had taken place during the course of his or her life, this should provide the counselor with the clue that this incident, may, in fact, had triggered the client’s anxieties, in the first place. In its turn, this will enable the counselor to recognize what accounts for the client’s reluctance to adopt a rational approach towards dealing with the very essence of its mental anguish.

Once, councilor gains a professional insight into the qualitative nature of the client’s problems, he or she will be in a position of providing help-seeker with advice on what may account for these problems’ ‘leveraging’, to which Egan refers to as: “Reasonable return on the investment of the client’s, the helper’s, and third-party resources” (p. 233). Councilor’s foremost objective, in this respect, would be helping clients to choose in favor of the least energy-consuming way of solving the problem.

For example, in a situation when a client complains about his or her mental incompatibility with coworkers, there would be no need for the councilor to advise such an individual to consider joining some support group or taking a course in psychological adaptability, for as long as the idea of seeking employment with another company or organization appeals more to the client.

After the counselor moves through all three steps of the ‘Skilled-Helper Model’s’ Stage One, he or she may begin with identifying probable solutions to the client’s problems. Prior to that, however, the therapist would have to ensure the client’s willingness to cooperate, during the course of pinpointing the scope of possibilities of how his or her problems could be successfully dealt with. In its turn, this would require the counselor to endow the client with an optimistic attitude towards life – after all, there are no ‘unsolvable’ problems, even if the ultimate solution to a particular problem may not appear socially acceptable.

What should be the therapist’s aim, in this respect, is a convincing client of the illusionary nature of a particular problem’s ‘nonsolvableness’ – even if such a problem cannot be resolved as a whole, it will still prove solvable, once the client is being convinced to go about addressing it on ‘one thing at the time’ basis. As Trotter (1999) had put it: “The concepts of hope, self-efficacy and optimism run through much of the helping literature. Pro-social modeling and reinforcement with their focus on positives” (p. 29). It goes without saying, of course, that while helping clients to outline problem-related solutions, counselors can never cease being empathetic.

Once, counselor succeeds with convincing clients to adopt an optimistic attitude towards the prospect of their problems being effectively solved, he or she would be able to embark upon prompting clients to rationalize what may account for solution-related choices. It is understood, of course, that the qualitative essence of these choices would be reflective of how clients perceive their objectives in seeking help.

What it means is that it is not only that counselors are being required to set clients on the path of self-actualization, as the ultimate mean of improving the state of their emotional well-being, but also to help help-seeking individuals to formulate spatially defined but very concrete goals in life. According to Egan: “Goals help clients focus their attention on action” (p. 250). Within the context of addressing this particular task, counselors’ analytical wiseness is a must, as they are being expected to intuitively feel what will account for a realistic manner of encouraging clients to set up their short-term and long-term goals.

The extent of therapists’ professional excellence also extrapolates itself in the way they work on ensuring the strength of clients’ commitment to adopted goals. The reason for this is simple – it is only the individuals provided with the set of properly chosen action-stimulating incentives, who will be able to remain thoroughly devoted to the provisions of a particular psychotherapeutic strategy. According to Fall, Holder, and Marquis (2004): “After verbalizing or thinking about a commitment to change, individuals take action. Their commitment to more effective living does not exist within insight alone; it must be put into action” (p. 256).

For example; whereas, socially withdrawn clients (introverts) would be more likely to remain committed to cooperation with counselors, due to such cooperation’s ability to address their subconscious socialization-related anxieties, socially outgoing clients (extroverts) would be more likely to perceive the beneficence of counseling from the qualitatively opposite perspective. As practice shows, while being counseled, extroverts tend to focus on whether their commitment to cooperation with psychotherapists can yield positive effects of an immediate significance. In its turn, this once again substantiates earlier articulated suggestion that it is only the rationalistic approach to counseling, which may be considered methodologically appropriate under most circumstances.

After having identified the fundamental nature of clients’ anxieties and after having helped clients to formulate the actual goals of continuing to be subjected to counseling, therapists may very well move to the next stage of utilizing the ‘Skilled-Helper Model’, concerned with designing change-inducing strategies and with their practical implementation. The first step would be deciding what should account for chosen strategy’s methodological subtleties.

Given the fact that, as I had pointed out earlier, the psychological constitution of every particular client defines the manner in which he or she perceives surrounding reality, it will only be logical to suggest that the essence of proposed change-inducing strategies must be reflective of the specifics of clients’ mindset. In his book, Egan points out the fact that these strategies may be generally categorized as specific, realistic, robust, and so-called ‘value observant’ (p. 323).

And, it is namely the prolonged observation of how a particular client reacts to psychological probing, reflected by the essentials of his or her ethnocultural affiliation (genetic makeup), which provides a counselor with the clue as to the utilization of what specific strategy would prove the most suitable, under given circumstances. The validity of Egan’s suggestion appears particularly self-evident in the light of Western societies growing increasingly multicultural.

As it was pointed out by Vacc, Devaney, and Brendel (2003): “Clients in cross-cultural settings often lack an understanding of certain issues within the new culture… In order to implement effective treatment plans, counselors must know the areas in which these cross-cultural clients tend to be uninformed or areas with which they may be unfamiliar” (p. 12). For example, there are good reasons to believe that the recently arrived immigrant from the Third World, who possesses a strongly religious mindset, would be able to benefit from adopting specifically robust or ‘value observant’ change-inducing strategies.

After all, as practice shows, the existential modes, on the part of ethnically diverse and strongly religious clients, are being marked with a certain degree of intellectual inflexibility. Alternatively, native-born Westerners brought up in non-religious families, would be more likely to benefit from adopting specific or realistic change-inducing strategies. Nevertheless, regardless of the conceptual essence of every particular strategy, the extent of its situational appropriateness is being proportionally related to the extent of its ability to keep the client committed to reaching therapy-related goals.

Just as it was hypothesized earlier, when it comes to counseling, the suitability of adoption of a particular therapy-related strategy should be measured in regards to what will account for the actual consequences of such strategy’s implementation, and not in regards to what were theoretical considerations, behind strategy’s adoption.

Given the fact that helping client to choose in favor of proper change-inducing strategy cannot be thought of as something that has value as a ‘thing in itself’, it comes as not a particular surprise that the ‘Skilled-Helper Model’ places a particular emphasis on the importance of designing action-plan, meant to ensure strategy’s continuous sustainability. According to Egan: “The lack of a plan – that is, a clear step-by-step process to accomplish a goal – keeps some clients mired in their problem situations” (p. 335). And, it is namely the utilization of the ‘Skilled-Helper Model’ that provides the counselor with the tool to measure the effectiveness of a counseling process and to adjust this process to the client’s actual needs.

Once, I counseled a religious White woman who used to experience a sense of guilt, due to what she thought was her ‘sinful’ thirst for sex, outside of marriage. She did not appear to have much of a problem telling her story. However, there were clear indications of this woman indulging in dysfunctional thinking (‘blind spots’) while articulating her reasons to feel ashamed because she continued to talk of sex from a moralistic rather than from a biological perspective.

Nevertheless, I was able to address her anxieties, in this respect, by subjecting her to a realistic counseling strategy. After having realized that, despite her religious mindedness, this woman was nevertheless able to rationalize life’s challenges, I encouraged her to talk more on the subject of sin, while pointing out the inconsistencies in how she went about thinking of the nature of sin. This allowed us to work out a plan for the actual counseling, the main provision of which was women’s willingness to familiarize herself with some relevant literature, I recommended for reading. At the end of the counseling process, the woman was able to get rid of her anxieties, because I helped her to gain insight into the simple fact that the term sin is best defined as the violation of laws of nature.

And, given the fact that having sex is being absolutely consistent with the laws of nature, it cannot be considered sinful, in the first place. In its turn, this once again proves that rationale-based counseling is absolutely applicable even to those, whose existential mode appears quite irrational. As Lowman (1993) had put it: “The therapist should have a solid understanding of the psychodynamics driving the observed pattern of under-commitment and a plan for intervention” (p. 74).

The foremost reason why no change-inducing strategy can be successfully implemented, without being based on a well-thought-out plan of action, is that it is namely client’s willingness to observe the plan’s daily, weekly, and monthly action-related provisions, which guarantees smooth transition between consequential phases of strategy’s implementation. And, what is the most important – client’s continuous exposure to the plan’s provisions, will endow him or her with a sense of discipline.

Apparently, it is not only therapists’ adherence to the principles of emphatic counseling, which highlights the extent of their professional competence, but also their talent in convincing clients to adopt a responsible stance, while undergoing therapy, as the foremost precondition that ensures positive dynamics in clients’ recovery.


I believe that the provided earlier line of argumentation, as to what should be considered the indication of the counseling methodology’s appropriateness, is being fully consistent with the paper’s initial thesis. Even though every particular individual appears to be existentially unique, the fact that people never cease acting as integral parts of a society to which they happened to belong, makes their behavior highly predictable, especially when it is being concerned with reacting to societal challenges.

Therefore, it is specifically the utilization of systemic counseling-related techniques, based upon the assumption that counselors are indeed being in a position to rationalize clients’ anxieties, which under most circumstances proves effective.


Egan, G. (2010). The skilled helper: A problem-management and opportunity-the development approach to helping. 9th ed. Pacific Grove: Brooks Cole.

Fall, K., Holder, J. & Marquis, A. (2004). Theoretical models of counseling and psychotherapy. New York: Brunner-Routledge.

Kadushin, C. (1962). Social distance between client and professional. American Journal of Sociology, 67(5), 517-531.

Lowman, R. (1993). Counseling and psychotherapy of work dysfunctions. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

McGraw, L., Zvonkovic, A. & Walker, A. (2000). Studying postmodern families: A feminist analysis of ethical tensions in work and family research. Journal of Marriage and Family, 62(1), 68-77.

Thompson, R. (2003). Counseling techniques: Improving relationships with others, ourselves, our families, and our environment. New York: Brunner-Routledge.

Trotter, C. (1999). Working with involuntary clients: A guide to practice. St. Leonards, N.S.W.: Allen & Unwin.

Vacc, N., Devaney, S. & Brendel, J. (2003). Counseling multicultural and diverse populations: Strategies for practitioners. New York: Brunner-Routledge.

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