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The client in this case (S in the transcription) is a seventh-grade student who was asked to talk to a school counselor by her teacher because she was concerned about the girl’s behavior in class. S seems to be struggling with school: she has trouble concentrating, cannot focus on a given task, and rarely turns in her homework. It is easy to see how such low academic engagement led to dropping grades. Mathematics appears to be the subject that causes the most problems for S. Moreover, she is disrespectful of teachers, which does not help her situation at all. Her problematic behavior can be attributed to the stressful family environment that she cannot change. S lives with mom, stepdad, and two baby sisters (twins). The girl finds the twins annoying and hates babysitting them, especially given that her mother makes her do that over the weekends.
The counselor (C in the transcription) is trying to analyze the student’s behavior without scolding and criticizing her. The professional learns about the girl’s background and notices her interest in studying that is, however, somewhat impeded. The counselor helps S to open up about her problems and offers healthy alternatives. This paper provides a verbatim transcription of their conversation with analysis as well as a theoretical framework based on Carl Rogers’ views and a piece of self-reflection.
Transcription and Analysis
|Verbatim Transcription||Clinical Skills and Competencies||Analysis of Clinical Thinking||Evaluation of Counselor’s Response|
|C: Hi S, I’m very happy to see you. How are you today?||C builds rapport with S by making the first impression warm and positive (Davis, 2015).||S needs to be sure that C is happy to see her and is not doing it out of a sense of obligation.||Asking a general question at the beginning of a session seems to be an effective approach as it helps to relieve the tension that S might be experiencing.|
|S: I’m ok… My teacher sent me here to speak with you.|
|C: Yes, S. I just want to go over a few things with you if you agree to have a little talk about things that are going on with you here and at home. |
S: Yeah… That’s fine with me, I like to be in this office.
|C establishes a mutual agreement concerning the aims of the session (McLain & Lewis, 2018).||C states the objective of the current session and asks S for consent.||Even though it was the teacher who sent S to C’s office, it is still necessary to check if the session is on S’s terms.|
|C: I know you do. I see that you feel comfortable and calm here.||C uses positive reflection, which was found to be the preferred and the most effective form of feedback (Barnett et al., 2014).||S seems to be already comfortable in the office setting, and C amplifies this feeling.||Reflecting S’s feelings on her is a powerful tool that raises her awareness of herself.|
|S: Yes… You guys are always nice to me.|
|C: Thanks, I see a smile on your face, that’s excellent. I like that you feel confident with us. I want you to be aware of the term of confidentiality, you need to know that all we talk about here is confidential. Your mom gives us consent to talk to you and Miss Ramos and I’m here to help you not just academically, but socially and emotionally too.||C refines the aims of the session and also shows their awareness of the ethical issues (McLain & Lewis, 2018).||C reassures the girl that she is safe and sound in their office and that the interaction is confidential.||The present fragment seems to be devoid of any faults.|
|S: I know, Miss… I know my mom tells me you talk to her about my grades…. She is mad at me. But who cares… She is so annoying lately.|
|C: Yes, I called your mom and we spoke about a few things. Your grades, and also I spoke to her about the importance for you to finish and return your homework and assignments.||C sets the context in which the therapeutic relationship is existing (McLain & Lewis, 2018).||C sets goals and expectations for an underage S by involving a close adult – mother in this case. C knows that their mother is an important figure in S’s life and lets S know that she is also concerned.||If S’s relationship with their mother were worse, the appeal to her concerns would be ineffective.|
|S: I know my mom isn’t happy with my grades or my behavior in school. But she doesn’t care either, she is either working or taking care of the twins. Whatever, that’s more important than me, I’m tired of everything.|
|C: I understand you’re mad and I can tell you’re frustrated.||C reviews the counseling process in terms of the client’s experience (McLain & Lewis, 2018).||S needs an empathetic adult who would be aware of her struggles. C both summarizes what S just said and acknowledges their emotions as valid.||C should be careful with reiterating a person’s emotions. If their guess is wrong, S might feel misunderstood and even made fun of.|
|S: Frustrated, I’m sick and tired of being the oldest, I have to help her with everything, Miss.|
|C: I’m sorry that you are so sad, and you’re going through this. And I can see how this is affecting you at all levels.||C addresses the client’s issues in a way that contributes to the counseling process (McLain & Lewis, 2018).||S has been dealing with feelings of sadness, anger, and frustration for quite some time.||While positive reflection might be the preferred type, negative reflection serves the purpose of acceptance and acknowledgment that S needs.|
|S: Now, the new thing is for me to sit with the twins on Saturdays while she goes to the supermarket. So no more practice for me.|
|C: Can you educate me more about what’s happening at home?||C facilitates the movement toward S’s insights. C helps S evaluate their environment and draw conclusions (McLain & Lewis, 2018).||A positive and supportive environment is essential for a person’s self-actualization. Since S is struggling at school, something must be impeding her development (Arnold, 2014).||It seems that the term “educate” might be too formal for a teenager. C might want to substitute it with something more neutral such as share or talk.|
|Ss: Well, she used to take me to my ballet classes on Saturday mornings. But of course, since my stepdad can’t stay with the twins because he works, I have to be the one who sacrifices my time and stays home, which is not fair.|
|C: I see a better picture now. So you’re telling me that before the twins your mom used to take you to dance (ballet you say) every Saturday. And everything was just normal.||C reviews the preceding fragment of the session in terms of S’s experience and summarizes the points that S has made (McLain & Lewis, 2018).||It might be the first time when S shares this story, so it should be taken seriously.||Summarizing helps C to memorize essential details and St to look at them from the outside, from a different angle.|
|S: Yes… Now I happen to be a babysitter patty of two.|
|C: Can you tell me more about your relationship with your stepfather?||C facilitates the movement toward S’s insights. C helps S evaluate their environment and draw conclusions (McLain & Lewis, 2018).||C is aware that S comes from a stressful environment and wants to know more details.||The question seems appropriate and well-timed because S has already shared a lot and is comfortable with continuing.|
|S: Is ok. He just works a lot, but when he’s home he doesn’t offer to help. He’s way too comfortable.|
|C: I see, and what is happening at school? When I talked to your teacher, she told me that you’re getting in trouble a lot, especially with your math teacher, Mrs. Mano.||C facilitates the movement toward S’s insights. C helps S evaluate their environment and draw conclusions (McLain & Lewis, 2018).||C needs to know how S sees her situation since it is more nuanced than simply bad behavior.||C uses the expression “getting in trouble” instead of more judgmental language such as “being disrespectful” or “misbehaving.”|
|S: Oh, who cares… She is so annoying… She always sends me to the office for little reason…|
|C: Little reasons… Go on.||C engages in reflective listening – they reflect what has been said and encourages S to continue (McLain & Lewis, 2018).||C sees that S is ready to share her perspective and asks her to go on without interrupting her.||Reflective listening is part of person-centered therapy, which is now seen as the most humanistic (Arnold, 2014).|
|S: Yeah, she is like S, don’t talk to Chris, don’t walk around, stop talking.|
|C: I see you have a 70 in that class. And she says you haven’t returned assignments from the last marking period.||C makes S aware that they are familiar with their situation and would like to know their perspective.||C is acting professional – they are non-judgmental and merely give an account of what they heard.|
|S: I don’t feel like doing homework at home. The projects are too long, I don’t have a computer, my mom can’t help me because she is with the twins. And my sisters are so annoying too, all they do is crying for everything. So I just lock myself in my room.|
|C: I understand that your mom is pretty busy with work and the babies and the responsibilities at home. And like you say, seems like she is not dedicating enough time to you and that’s why you’re so angry. Also, this whole situation is not helping you to be interested in improving your grades or doing your homework.||C reviews the preceding fragment of the session in terms of S’s experience and summarizes the points that S has made (McLain & Lewis, 2018).||C wants to show that they understand both sides of the conflict – mother and daughter. At the same time, they deem it necessary to admit the adverse impact that the situation has on S.||C is acting professional – they are non-judgmental and merely give an account of what they heard.|
|S: You don’t know, Miss… She spends too much time at work, too much time with the babies… And then wants me to help her out with the dishes and take care of the babies while she cooks. Who has time for that… Hell, not.|
|C: I see you’re very frustrated with that, and believe me, I understand, how it is to be a teenager. You don’t want those responsibilities right? You want to go back to your ballet classes and be able to spend more time with mom I’m sure.||C employs negative reflection, summarizing the points that S has made, and facilitates the movement toward new insights (McLain & Lewis, 2018).||C wants to emphasize that they understand their client despite the age difference.||This reply seems effective in letting S decide what she wants for herself.|
|S: Not at all… And then my stepdad, who does nothing, gets home and just sits to watch TV… That’s all he does, eat and watch TV. Unbelievable… Isn’t it. He can help my mom. Why do I have to be the one helping her?|
|C: S, I see you get angry just talking about it, and as I say, I understand it is not what you want to do. However, it is your responsibility to do your homework and return the assignments on time, you are in the 7th grade, and all this is going to affect your GPA for the next year.||C employs negative reflection, summarizing the points that S has made, and shares a realistic evaluation of her current situation (McLain & Lewis, 2018).||Acknowledging the problem is a big step; however, it is imperative to tackle it as soon as possible.||This reply seems to be appropriate when dealing with a teenager: while C reaffirms her right to emotional support, they also remind her of her responsibilities (Davis, 2015).|
|S: I know… It’s just not easy to do it at home.|
|C: When I talked to your mom, I explained to her that it is very important to improve your grades especially because you’re going to be in the 8th grade and your GPA needs to be better, for you to apply for high school. You’re saying you like to dance and you would like to be accepted in Jefferson, right? That’s what you want?||C employs positive reflection, summarizing the points that S has made, and shares a realistic evaluation of her current situation (McLain & Lewis, 2018).||S might feel that her mother does not care about her academic performance, so C makes it a point to reaffirm to her that they talked.||C acts professionally, not imposing goals on S but encouraging her to reflect on her interests.|
|S: Yeah I know… Yes, I’ve been dancing since I was 6. I heard that that school is great for art, dance, and music.|
|That’s excellent. And I’m sure you will be great at it. You just have to focus more on finishing the homework and assignments. The math teacher told me she is going to give you an extension for the assignments you owe her.||C employs positive reflection, summarizing the points that S has made, and shares a realistic evaluation of her current situation (McLain & Lewis, 2018).||S might think that she has already failed math class, but C gives her hope that she will pass it.||C emphasizes the importance of S’s effort in fixing her situation, which gives her more self-agency.|
|Ss: That’s ok…|
|C: I also spoke to your mom about the sign you for the after-school program on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays with the other math teacher, so you can finish your homework and assignments during this time. I’ll talk to the VP for you to keep the computer until this time since you say you don’t have one at home.||C reviews the session in terms of their own experience and shares an idea with S (McLain & Lewis, 2018).||S might think that she has already failed math class, but C gives her hope that she will pass it.||C does not make empty promises; instead, they demonstrate to S that there are real opportunities to boost her academic performance.|
|S: Afterschool. I didn’t know I can stay in after school.|
|C: Yes, you can be in our after-school program. Your mom agrees that you can stay those three days. Are you OK to stay in the after-school program for those few days and see if you like it? And probably, this will be a good way for you to get you back on track with your grades.||C reviews the session in terms of their own experience and shares an idea with S (McLain & Lewis, 2018).||C sees that S needs reassurance and confirms that her mother approved her participation in the program.||C does not force participation – they suggest that S spend there a few days to see for themselves if it is worth it.|
|S: That’s fine, I guess… I will stay… I like to be in school anyway.|
|C: I also have a little surprise for you, I found that Mr. Mclain, the music teacher, is doing Zumba every Friday, with a few of the 8th-grade students. If you’re interested, on Fridays, you can go to the regular after-school program to finish the homework or just work on your assignments and then at 3:30, come down to the gym with them. Do you like that idea? That is something that interests you?||C reviews the session in terms of their own experience and shares an idea with S (McLain & Lewis, 2018).||C knows that dance classes can make S stay at school longer and attend the math program as well.||C does not make empty promises; instead, they demonstrate to S that there are real opportunities to enhance her engagement.|
|S: OMG… For real… That will be super cool. I didn’t know they were doing Zumba. Mr. Mclain was my music teacher last year… Does he dance?|
|C: Of course, every year, he’s the one that helps students for high school auditions.||S is interested in dancing, and the presence of someone who does it professionally at her school might give her hope.||C uses affirmative language, which is beneficial in the case of an insecure student (Davis, 2015).|
|S: Really, that’s unreal.|
|C: You see, I love to see you are motivated and happy. I’m sure this will help you to be more engaged and focused in classes.||C uses positive reflection, which was found to be the preferred and the most effective form of feedback (Barnett et al., 2014).||S needs someone to boost her self-confidence and promise her that everything is going to be alright.||C employs two effective strategies at once – they positively reflect S’s input and reassure her that the goal is realistic.|
|S: I like the idea… I’m super excited.|
|C: I made you this folder just for you to keep organized your homework. Every Friday, I’ll be checking to make sure you return everything on time, and I will also check with your teacher Mr. Morris. I want you to have the opportunity to go to a good high school. And this can only happen if you improve your grades and your behavior.||C reviews the session in terms of their own experience and shares an idea with S (McLain & Lewis, 2018). C provides feedback regarding S’s academic goals and outlines a realistic scenario.||S might be having short-term problems which, however, can compromise her future in the long term. This situation needs immediate intervention with the involvement of the school staff.||C demonstrates that they wish S the best and act in her interests.|
|S: Yes that’s fine. I know I get frustrated sometimes.|
|C: I’m going to start a bunch of lunch groups.||S needs to have a life outside her home environment, and a hobby group might as well reignite her interest in school.||C does not give away the details: they wait for S to get curious and ask about the group herself.|
|S: What’s that?|
|C: A small group, we will meet every Tuesday and Thursday at lunchtime. We will have lunch together and do some relaxation activities. We will be using coping strategies, and if you are interested, I’ll name you the group leader. A few of the responsibilities you’re going to have are making sure everyone comes, take attendance for me, and you will help me to do the intro every time we meet. Is that something that you are willing to do?||C sets both therapeutic and personal goals for S after making sure that she is interested in the mentioned activities (McLain & Lewis, 2018).||S needs concrete details to manage her time and know what to expect if she joins this group.||C could have asked S what responsibilities might be interesting to her instead of listing them right away.|
|S: Miss, that’s good, cafeteria stresses me… Too many people together, and kids are annoying.|
|C: Excellent. Ok, so here is your folder for the homework. I just want to have them here so keep track of what you have to do. We are going to start the group next Tuesday, and I will give you few things I want you to do. The thing is you’re going to be the leader of the group. And I will talk to the music teacher to see what day is good for you to start the Zumba classes. And I will talk to your mom first and then I will meet with you again at some point this week.||C recognizes the need for ongoing supervision so that S complies with given recommendations (McLain & Lewis, 2018).||S is interested in her studies but lacks structure. Moreover, her environment does not predispose her to make more effort; thus, she needs help from an adult.||C outlines the next steps with utmost clarity so that S knows what to expect.|
|If you feel like you get a little angry or frustrated, you can always come to u to talk. Or even if you need a little time off from classes, just let the teacher know and you are always welcome to stay here.||C brought the session to closure while acknowledging the importance of the experience for both them and S (McLain & Lewis, 2018).||S needs to be sure that C’s office is a safe space, and she is welcome there at all times. S needs to have her emotions acknowledged and taken seriously, which C demonstrates by inviting her to their office.||By offering S to take some time off classes, C might be giving them an opportunity for truancy. C might want to consult S’s teachers before making such claims.|
|S: Ok, Miss… |
|C: Thanks.||C brought the session to closure while acknowledging the importance of the experience for both them and S (McLain & Lewis, 2018).||S should know that C is grateful for the opportunity to be a close confidant. The insights that both C and S gain during the process are meaningful and precious.||This way to bring the session to closure seems to be appropriate: it is both simple and effective.|
The present transcription was analyzed from the standpoint of the person-centered theory developed by Carl Rogers. He was one of the founders of humanistic psychology, and his most groundbreaking idea was to redefine the therapeutic relationship between the counselor and the client (A study guide, 2015). Traditionally, the specialist was seen as the leader and the client or patient as the follower. Rogers introduced the person-centered approach and assigned the counselor the role of a mediator rather than an instructor.
As seen from the transcription, the counselor focuses on S’s struggles and employs reflective listening when approaching them. According to Rogers, this strategy makes the client front and center of each interaction (Arnold, 2014). The counselor needs to develop an empathetic frame of mind and not interrupt the client’s flow (Arnold, 2014). In our example, the professional encourages S to speak and expresses sympathy for her challenges.
Rogers also believed that all human beings possess a tendency to self-actualize – reach their full potential. He noted, however, self-actualization would is only possible if an individual is provided with an environment that promoted growth. Rogers argued that the directions in which a person would grow were unique to his or her personality (A study guide, 2015). From the present therapy session, we can see that the counselor is aware of S’s genuine interest in studies and art. He or she does not attribute her falling grades to laziness. The professional is aware of the fact that her family environment is stressful and makes an effort to change it. S is offered three different opportunities – math study group, relaxation group, and dance classes – to help her unfold her potential.
I must admit that completing this assignment was both interesting and challenging. What helped me analyze the transcription was Carl Rogers’ theory of patient-based theory and such concepts as reflective listening. In my personal life, I have often heard that I am a good listener, and my friends and family often contact me to share their thoughts and feelings. When analyzing the transcription, I have noticed that I would employ the same listening strategies as the counselor. For instance, I appreciated how he or she encouraged S to go on with her story and asked meaningful questions. As for my weaknesses, honestly, I would have trouble dealing with my underage clients’ parents. Sometimes mothers and fathers are set in their ways and are reluctant to listen to someone else’s opinion even if this person is a professional. I plan to overcome this difficulty by studying communication strategies.
In the nearest future, I plan on concentrating on two skills: reflective listening and rapport building. I think that more often than not, people need someone who would listen to them attentively and accept them for who they are. The case of S showed that the lack of empathy and compassion in her closest environment drove her to misbehave and fail school. However, when allowed to speak her mind, she found it easy to share, and the counselor could find a way out and offer her alternatives to her current behavior. Rapport building is also essential for the counseling profession because holding a session implies building both a professional and a personal relationship with a client (Stone & Dahir, 2016). I envision myself working on making the first impressions count and appearing welcoming and likable.
Arnold, K. (2014). Behind the mirror: Reflective listening and its tain in the work of Carl Rogers. The Humanistic Psychologist, 42(4), 354-369.
A study guide for psychologists and their theories for students: Carl Rogers. (2015). Farmington Hills, MI: Gale, Cengage Learning.
Barnett, E., Spruijt-Metz, D., Moyers, T. B., Smith, C., Rohrbach, L. A., Sun, P., & Sussman, S. (2014). Bidirectional relationships between client and counselor speech: The importance of reframing. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 28(4), 1212-1219.
Davis, T. E. (2015). Exploring school counseling (2nd ed.). Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.
McLain, C. M., & Lewis, J. P. (2018). Professional behaviors and dispositions: Counseling competencies and lifelong growth. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.
Stone, C. B., & Dahir, C. A. (2016). The transformed school counselor (3rd ed). Boston, MA: Cengage.