Messages Communicated During the Session
Types of messages that can be communicated with a silence
A client may be silent to achieve several aims, such as to a) develop their feelings and identify them; b) reflect and make connections between given pieces of information; c) encourage the counselor to speak; d) recover from strong emotions. The counselor may use silence to gather their thoughts or finish a discussion, or they might employ it deliberately to encourage people to talk or explore their feelings (“attentive silence”) (Hornby, Hall, & Hall, 2003, p. 27).
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Number of messages that might occur in a helping session
During a helping session, a customer may employ silence several times because of any of the described reasons. Any combination of these reasons is possible during the whole conversation, especially when it is a lengthy one.
To tell one message apart from another, it is necessary to pay attention to the client’s non-verbal signs and facial expressions and take into account what has been said previously. For instance, if the customer is looking at the counselor inquiringly, then they may be waiting for an answer or a comment. If they have said something to which their attitude is very emotional, and then stopped talking and started looking out of the window, they may be recovering from strong emotions, etc.
Differences between the needs of a financially challenged low-income client and the needs of a client with a high-paying and secure job
The needs of clients who face financial challenges significantly differ from the needs of those who have a well-paid and secure job; the same applies to school students whose families have a respective financial situation (Tate, Lopez, Fox, Love, & McKinney, 2014).
For instance, the children living in low-income families may face problems related to the basic needs such as the need for food and clothing; it will be essential for the counselor to take into account these needs and be delicate and respective towards the children in such a situation; it is also recommended to address the psychological consequences of this state of affairs, and, for instance, help children to avoid developing such problems as the inferiority complex.
It is also essential to provide them with guidance regarding their future education and career, for it is rather challenging for these students to gain a good education; many of them may even drop out of school to find work, etc. On the other hand, children living in wealthy families also have problems; it is stated that they often tend to suffer from distress and depression, use substances, and get involved in minor crimes (Luthar, 2014). The counselor must address the causes of these problems as well.
The ethical issues in beginning or continuing to help a client who is also receiving counseling from another practitioner
When a counselor is beginning or continuing to help a customer who is also gaining assistance from a different counselor, several ethical problems may arise. For instance, the client may decide to stop attending the “old” counselor in favor of a new one, in which case the “new” counselor will take the customer away from the “old” one. In any case, the customer will assess each of the counselors via the prism of the other one, which may lead to ethical issues between the professionals. More importantly, the counselors might have different approaches to the client’s problems, in which case their proposed solutions may differ significantly and even sometimes contradict one another. In this case, the counseling might even cause harm to the customer.
To avoid such problems, it is recommended for the two counselors to collaborate and form professional relationships with one another to better help the client. This will allow them to reconcile their approaches and coordinate their efforts, as well as to clarify any ethical issues that might arise between them (American Counseling Association, 2014, p. 10).
Own culture affiliation and world view that affect the focus on in a helping session
Such cultural factors as “age, gender, ethnicity, physical and mental ability, sexual orientation, religion, language, and social class” may influence the relationships between the counselor and their client (Collins & Arthur, 2010, p. 218). On the whole, political, social, historical, economic or environmental factors that individuals (including counselors) are exposed to during their life have an essential influence on their experience and values and may affect the focus of a counselor in a helping session.
For instance, a counselor whose family has always been well-off may understand the problems of a low-income client worse, and pay less attention to their financial issues that a counselor who has the experience of being poor would. A female counselor might be able to understand another woman better than a male counselor because the latter would not have any personal experience of being discriminated against as a woman, and his knowledge of the issue would perhaps be more theoretical. To avoid wrong foci, counselors must develop cultural awareness of oneself, of one’s “personal assumptions, values, and biases,” as well as of the customer’s worldview and cultural background (Collins & Arthur, 2010, p. 220).
Definition of blocking
Blocking is “a temporary or fleeting restraint of thinking, feelings or action that resembles repression but differs in that tension results from the inhibition” (Stewart, 2005, p. 123). It occurs as a result of the client’s previous experience, or some thought processes that were learned before. A block often may emerge because the client has some deeply unpleasant or traumatic experience that they do not wish to remember and go through again (for instance, the experience of rape). To avoid this, the customer will (unconsciously or consciously) avoid any thoughts or conversation about the topic which is traumatic to them. In any case, when blocking occurs, there exists a reason for that, and the counselor needs to investigate the causes for the blocking, but in a respectful, delicate way.
It is stated that blocking may emerge during a counseling session at any point. The client might start refusing to think thoroughly about the subject of conversation; they also may simply disagree with the counselor and not listen to them, or listen without really taking their words into account (Stewart, 2005, p. 123).
Counseling as an “unfolding process”
When counseling is described as an “unfolding process,” it is meant that the counselor cannot address all the needs of their client right in the first session; instead, the specialist gradually gets to know their customer during their interactions. As the client comes to the counselor and talks, the counselor attempts to gradually and delicately elicit the information from them to better understand the causes of the client’s problems and issues to be able to address them more effectively. With time, the counselor gathers more and more information about their customers, which allows them to design the best way for the client to deal with their issues.
On the other hand, the client also begins to comprehend the nature of their issues with time; this helps not only to address their problems but also to more effectively interact with the counselor to find even better solutions and answers to their questions. This is why counseling is described as an “unfolding process”: it starts from the point where the counselor knows very little about their customer but then unfolds into a fruitful interaction where the specialist knows their client well and can help them to address their issues in a much more effective manner.
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The ethical risks in using electronic communication with clients
The use of electronic communications such as phone, e-mail, video calls, etc., offers a useful way to provide counseling to clients who have a tight schedule, or who are unable to visit the counselor in person due to other reasons (such as long-distance, etc.). However, several ethical issues arise in online counseling.
One of the most important of them is the risk of breach of confidentiality; some other person may answer the call, eavesdrop or interrupt the session, and the counselor has to make an effort to prevent such situations; the therapist will also have to keep their records safe from a breach. Also, the counselor is always obliged to avoid harming their customer, warn them about any potential danger and protect them from it, which may be difficult or impossible during a remote session. Also, to practice, the counselor must have proper license in the respective state; in online counseling, this principle also needs to be complied with, which may pose additional challenges (Mallen, Vogel, & Rochlen, 2005).
If the counseling services are provided via social networks, all the mentioned risks remain, but the risk of breach of confidentiality increases, e.g. due to the possibility of third persons noticing that the customer added the counselor as a “friend,” because of the lower degree of safety of social networks, etc.
American Counseling Association. (2014). 2014 ACA code of ethics, as approved by the ACA Governing Council. Web.
Collins, S., & Arthur, N. (2010). Culture-infused counselling: A model for developing multicultural competence. Counselling Psychology Quarterly, 23(2), 217-233. Web.
Hornby, G., Hall, C., & Hall, E. (2003). Counselling pupils in schools: Skills and strategies for teachers. New York, NY: RoutledgeFalmer. Web.
Luthar, S. S. (2014). The problem with rich kids. Web.
Mallen, M. J., Vogel, D. L., & Rochlen, A. B. (2005). The practical aspects of online counseling: Ethics, training, technology, and competency. The Counseling Psychologist, 33(6), 776-818. Web.
Stewart, W. (2005). An A-Z of counselling theory and practice (4th ed.). Cheltenham, United Kingdom: Nelson Thornes. Web.
Tate, K. A., Lopez, C., Fox, R., Love, J. R., & McKinney, E. (2014). In-home counseling for young children living in poverty: An exploration of counseling competencies. The Family Journal, 22(4), 371-381. Web.