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Counseling Essay

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Updated: Dec 18th, 2019

Introduction

Counseling generally refers to the provision of assistance or guidance that eventually helps solve personal, social or mental problems. A professional individual normally administers it. It normally takes a number of forms including individual counseling, group counseling, and couples counseling.

Individual counseling goal is to help one make better decisions, improve one’s relationship with others, and generally help one to understand oneself in order to be able to make healthy changes.

Group counseling, on the other hand, helps one to be able to understand his/her feelings and change behavioral problems with the support of others (Fernald, 2008). Those partners who generally want to improve their intimate relationship normally use couple counseling, on the other hand.

Counseling may be beneficial in a number of ways. It can make one have a better understanding of things that help in getting new skills to manage themselves better. Through the help of the counselor, individual can respond to problems in different perspective. Sharing of thoughts can particularly be helpful in changing one’s life, and that is what counseling is all about.

There are important aspects of counseling that make its usage effective. One of these aspects is confidentiality; his means that a counselor is by ethics required to treat all the information that a client shares as confidential material (Skinner, 1974).

Another important aspect is the counseling process; this depends on the individual counselor and client and the urgency of the issue in question. However, the general process to be followed include: collecting of background information, identifying key issues, case development, setting goals for therapy, implementation of intervention and evaluation.

Theory of Counseling

Theories of counseling vary and mostly depend on the views of different writers. The ones reviewed include client centered, holistic health, learned optimism, cognitive behavioral, solution focused and existential.

In client centered counseling, the client is motivated to discover things and develop as a result of the guidance and climate that the counselor provides. In this type of counseling, the common features include active listening, acceptance, truthfulness and empathy.

Holistic health, on the other hand, stresses the importance of physical well being, emotional, social, vocational and spiritual needs. If these are ignored then an individuals will easily succumb to stress, which can affect their well-being.

There is a type of counseling practice that allows for interaction between the client and the counselor. This method allows them to discuss the success that occurred in the past and those occurring in the present. This form of counseling is referred to as learned optimism counseling.

This also allows them to address the problems that should be anticipated in the present and the future. It involves having a positive mind and normally directs individual on focusing how things can turn out to be.

Cognitive behavioral therapy also referred to as the ABC method, can be described as any form of therapy that is based on the belief in ones thought and that normally is directly connected to the way one feels. In this type of scenario, there is normally what is referred to as the activating event where the client draws his/her interpretations.

The individual then beliefs in the ideas. This normally leads to different consequences concerning the outcome of the event. Thus, this form of therapy helps clients identify distorted thinking that causes emotional problem and help solve them.

Solution focused therapy normally focuses on the outcomes, this is to mean that the primary goal is focused towards achieving what the client wants through use of therapy rather than the cause that made them seek therapy. This kind of approach focuses on the present and future, and the client is normally advised to focus on the future and how it has changed.

The existential approach is simply based on the presence of individual in a therapy session and the reason as to why they are there in the first place. This means that if a client knows the reason why he/she is in therapy then it will enable them to face the challenges that come along swiftly.

Counseling psychology

Counseling and psychology are interrelated; the use of psychological principles to overcome different problems is facilitated through counseling. Therefore, counseling psychology is a specialty that brings together research and applied work to achieve broad areas.

These areas include the counseling process and its outcome, supervision and training, development of career, prevention and health issues. Some unique features of counseling psychology include the focus on people, environment interaction and impact personalities. Psychologists get to the answers to the behaviors of people through counseling.

Psychologist are normally interested in finding answers through counseling process and outcomes, in which through the process they get to ask questions and the outcome will determine whether the process was effective and successful. In this process, the psychologist uses certain techniques. These include client variables and cultural variables. Therapist variables and mechanism of change are also included.

Therapist variables include the traits of a counselor, theoretical orientation and behavior. Research on effectiveness of therapy models has found that following particular models of therapy can be helpful or have a positive impact (George, 2003).

Client variables, on the other hand, include certain things such as attitude to seek help and attachment style (Gazzaniga, 2010). This has been very useful in counseling. Stigma from mental illness motivates people to accept the fact that they have problems and make them seek help. Self-stigma is a condition that affects the individual’s perspective towards counseling and this causes such an individual to require intervention.

This is also related to public stigma. Attachment style, on the other hand, can be viewed in different ways. Those clients with avoidant styles are known to think that counseling will give them minimal benefit and thus are less likely to seek help (Gazzaniga, 2010). However, securely attached ones react differently.

They perceive counseling to be greatly beneficial. These kinds of individuals seek such professional help. Anxious attachment is said to perceive a lot of importance as well as risks to counseling, thus, providing education about expectations of counseling can change clients attitude tremendously.

Counseling relationship as referred in counseling psychology refers to the feeling in which a client and a therapist have towards each other and the way which they are expressed in.

This kind of relationship may fall in three categories: counter transference, working alliance and personal relationship. Secure base hypothesis is a theory concerning the function of counseling and is normally related to attachment theory; this enables the client to have a reference point.

The counseling psychologists use different approaches. They incorporate things such as cultural variables in the counseling practices. They relate such aspects with the processes and results arrived at during counseling. Recent studies show that black clients are at risk of racial discrimination from white counselors.

Thus, it is advised that counselors get help and expertise for working with clients of different race, gender, and other oppressed populations (Gazzaniga, 2010).

Counseling outcomes normally looks at different symptoms such as the specific disorders and behavior changes. Positive outcomes like quality of life form a basis of life-satisfaction measure report. According to Gazzaniga, research has shown that the counseling process and outcome use various research methods to answer different counseling questions (2010). There are various quantitative methods used.

One of them includes the conducting of correlation studies. This is applied in the counseling course and during clinical trials. They also apply during the actual process of counseling and the studies on the processes in counseling and the outcomes. On the other hand, qualitative methods involve conducting, translating, and coding therapy sessions.

In practical terms, we see that “psychology and counseling explore concepts such as emotion, personality and interpersonal relationships” (Gazzaniga, 2010). It, thus, can relate to different kind of setting in a population like community mental health setting and in-patient clients on drug abuse. In community mental health setting, there are different individuals that suffer from all sorts of mental breakdown illnesses.

Counseling helps in making them understand the core reason behind their mental breakdown and possibly help them deal with the fears that relate to it, the end results normally depends on the attitude of patients and their response to therapy during these counseling sessions.

Different setting, thus, has different counseling approach and depends also on the technicality of the given situation, client variables normally helps a lot during some session. An in-patient on drug abuse, for example, may not derive a lot of benefit from counseling if he does not accept that he/she has a problem, the problem has had a significant effect in his/her life and finally the problem can be fixed.

It is important to note, therefore, that counseling can only work where a client is willing to participate, normally psychology can be used to gain this will.

Counseling in essence is the profession that is highly dependent on the need of clients, and their personality. A counselor’s approach towards different sessions is unique based on the attitude of individual and their response towards certain questions. In other occasions, counselors influence decision making in individuals. This way, they influence the kind of decisions the clients make. Some of their decisions may change their lives completely.

Values in counseling

Values in counseling introduce us to the various theoretical perspectives of psychology that can be used in counseling. There are various theoretical perspective in psychology and are commonly referred to as paradigms. They include behavioral, biological, cognitive, humanistic, social, Freudian, and developmental.

Focusing on developmental perspective, its information processing, developmental approaches as a discipline bring us to the approaches that can be applied in counseling. There are three basic approaches currently under debate. They include information processing, life span development, and developmental approaches.

My approach under investigation was based on the concept of irrational beliefs, concepts of feelings and behavior. The counselors may incorporate therapy in the session and combine it with behavior. This way, the councilor personalizes the therapy session.

How individual feels and reacts to such feelings is the first step in knowing that something is not right, and that can further lead to reasoning and, thus, the decision that motivates them to seek counseling.

With these considerations, counseling appears as a link between the individual’s way of thinking and his/her behavior. Certain feelings like sadness and anxiety results lead to the desire for a response that is characterized in behavior socially or privately (George, 2003).

Behavior is normally motivated to result in a change in the human mind. When ones response is based on false emotions then negative and possibly harmful results will be achieved.

Negative behavior may sometime be the reason that individual or groups in a therapy session realize the need for change. The counselor, thus, needs to be prepared to be able to give proper guidance, and be in a position to detect emotions or behavior patterns that exhibit in individuals or a group.

This may lead towards finding out what actually the problem is with particular individual or a group, or may enable proper interpretation of events that led to therapy.

When a counselor discovers the behavior in an individual is no longer functioning, it may be a good indicator for assessing the things that the individual now believes in and, thus, emotional health can be regained through removing the negative thoughts and distortions and trying to give them emotional and personality balance.

Behavioral response as a perspective in counseling can provide a significant impact to the change process of an individual or a group.

The use of behavioral perspective in counseling can lead to a better client counselor relationship, in the sense that personal traits are necessary to establish a good therapeutic relationship with the client can be manifested (Leichsenring & Leibing, 2003). Normally, clients who decide to go for counseling have different problem they are aware of but need the help of a therapist to be able to identify the core reason as to why they cannot solve it.

Counseling can show that initial stages of client-counselor relationship can be a bit difficult but as the clients’ emotions and behavior exhibit themselves, the counselor will gain insight that will enable him/her understand the client more and, thus, improve their relationship.

It is, thus, very important that the counselor identifies both behavioral traits, the negative ones that will enhance the counselor to concentrate and work on them with the client, so that he/she can understand the problems the client is facing. The positive ones which help in improving the client self esteem in the time when he/she seem to be having a mental break down that is related to the problem he/she is facing.

Exploring this perspective enhances the buildup of a therapy case before and in the course of counseling. The individual most often have no knowledge of the kind of issues that need to be addressed if he/she goes to counseling but he/she knows that something is not right in the environment he lives or that he/she has a problem that need to be addressed.

The counselor needs to know and differentiate the kind of feeling that a client shows at the initial stages of counseling, like feelings of resentment and possibly anger may exhibit itself directly with behavior and that this is genuine.

In later stages of counseling and as the counselor and the client relationship is built up, the counselor may uncover the thought that leads to the disruptive behavior and feelings. It is the counselor’s role in this perspective to identify and respond to them so as to restore an individual functional system.

Counseling is meant to consider the entire characteristic that an individual exhibit when he/she enters counseling, a counselor through knowledge of these traits like behavior and feeling will be challenged to uncover the client’s beliefs that are the cause of their actions. This will form the basis of an integrative individual counseling, which shows that individuals are motivated by their thoughts, emotions and behavior.

The kind of behavior that an individual exhibits during counseling session will either work positively for the client or not, if a client exhibits behavior aimed at changing the painful experiences and helps him towards working on his/her feelings like anger, then this will be of great significance in making this individual a healthy and positive person.

In essence, counseling will have made the individual understand and appreciate the reward that he/she achieved because of counseling.

There are different approaches employed in counseling (psychology). They differ in terms of therapy and the basic concepts. One of them is the behavioral perspective. This is comparable to the rest but also differs in various aspects.

Comparing the cognitive and behavioral perspective, we see the difference in perspective of solving problem as one is focused on the present belief systems to psychoanalytic theory while the other is based purely on reality of what is happening (Leichsenring & Leibing, 2003).

The Freudian perspective works towards changing individual’s personality and character through using the childhood experiences. Cognitive and behavioral perspectives do normally produce change in a group or individual in a short period.

Theoretical perspectives differ in scope and applicability. Some can be used to solve crime cases as well as real life dilemmas.

There are different theories and approaches that can be integrated together with this perspectives to enhance counselors get a broader view and insight in understanding clients and, thus, create a conducive and harmonious environment for counseling that will enhance the counseling process to achieve results faster and also enable the client realize the effect that counseling had on their life.

Conclusion

Counseling as this research has shown is quite a broad and diverse subject; it shares most subject matters especially concerning psychology as a discipline in terms of emotion, behavior, personality, attention and perception.

Counseling normally provides an opportunity for individuals to express themselves where no one seems to agree with what they have to say; this is the basis and direction in which most individuals dysfunctional problems are solved today.

Counseling has had tremendous results over the past in solving cases and, as expert, counseling psychology is one of the most effective tools in handling mental break down; the results of its usage in the modern world have become very effective over the years.

The study of counseling and in broad terms psychology have also been criticized by different philosophers of science; some saying it is a soft science lacking the real concept and effectiveness like mature science such as physics and chemistry. Some say that it is not objective.

They argue that the phenomenon used by psychologists like personality and emotion cannot be measured directly, and that they are often subjective in nature. The important thing to note is that its usage in real life situation has proven to be very successful.

References

Fernald, L.D. (2008). Psychology: Six perspectives. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Gazzaniga, M. (2010). Psychological Science. New York: Norton & Company.

. (2003). The cognitive revolution: a historical perspective. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 7 (3), 120-125.
Leichsenring, F., Leibing, E. (2003). The effectiveness of psychodynamic therapy and cognitive behavior therapy in the treatment of personality disorders: A meta-analysis. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 160 (7), 1223–33.

Skinner, B.F. (1974). About Behaviorism. New York: Random House.

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