Personal Approach to Counseling

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Introduction

In this section, I will describe my personal approach to counseling and detail the specifics of it. My approach to viewing the nature of human beings has changed since I began to learn more about psychology and philosophy since previously, I believed that humans are innately bad and one’s behavior should be motivated by the desire to become better. However, my views have changed drastically, and now I believe that all humans are innately good. However, under the pressure of society and conformity, we may perceive some of our features and character traits that are inborn as bad. Due to this, I would say that my first goal as a counselor could be to help a client see that all people, including themselves, are innately good. Hence, the cause of suffering, in many cases, is the discrepancy between a person’s view of themselves as bad because they do not align with the social standards.

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Additionally, I think that many people are affected by negative self-thought and overly dramatic perceptions of the events that happen to them; for example, some are inclined towards catastrophizing, which is when an individual expects the worst possible scenario to happen to them. Hence, the role of the counselor is to help people recognize these negative ideas and thought patterns and develop a more logical and practical way of evaluating events. Moreover, counselors may act as instructors, teachers, or coaches since, in a way, they train people to develop new thinking and behavior patterns. From this perspective, the role of a counselor is an advisor who can provide a second opinion and an unbiased view on the situation, which helps one develop a more rational thinking pattern.

As for motivation, my belief is that people are motivated mostly by the need to satisfy their needs. Maslow’s hierarchy is a good representation of what most people need in order to survive, although I think that in some cases, individuals may need to satisfy their needs in an order that does not correspond to that described by Maslow. Regardless, all humans need the satisfaction of their basic physiological needs, such as food, housing, and others. At a higher level, people want to be a part of society, have a social circle and community, and develop themselves to uncover their potential.

Change in a human’s behavior and attitudes can occur with support and acceptance. I believe that humans are innately social creates, and although some individuals have inner mechanisms to show themselves support and self-help, others need counseling and a professional to create a positive atmosphere where they can change. Hence, wellness occurs once a person feels comfortable with themselves and their lives and is capable of functioning effectively, where their needs and goals are satisfied. Thus, the five areas of human nature that I discussed above and that are a part of my counseling approach are the fact that humans are social, rational, yet emotional, striving for development, and subjected to actions dictated by their behavior patterns. The main issue is the conflict between the rational and emotional aspects of human nature or the logical and irrational because the irrational thinking patterns lead to destructive behaviors as they are influenced by emotions and fears.

Counselor Role

First and foremost, the counselor has to be non-judgmental as this is the basics of establishing and maintaining a therapeutic relationship. I believe that being non-judgemental is the only appropriate way of counseling because only if the client feels that they are not judged based on what they discuss, their life choices, appearance, or anything else they will be able to talk about what concerns them openly. Empathy is another thing because, unfortunately, emotional intelligence is a skill that not all people acquire and develop. Hence, individuals often are unable to understand their emotions or communicate them. Similarly, their social circle may be unable to respond and show them support where necessary.

When reflecting on the idea of a counselor’s behavior and role in terms of helping the client make a positive change, I would argue that one has to remember that the client has to be the one making the decision and setting goals. The counselor’s role is in being a guide for the client and supporting their endeavors. At the same time, it is essential to remember not to give advice or pressure a person to make a certain decision regardless of how helpful it might be. In summary, I think that a counselor should serve as a source of support, help set goals, and give a client several options when they strive towards a change, especially since I plan on working as a clinical counselor and help adults make a positive change to their lives.

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For example, if a client wants to abandon their addiction to alcohol but has been incapable of achieving this n their own, the counselor may help them set realistic goals, track their destructive behaviors, identify triggers that prompt this individual to drink excessively, and act as a source of social support. Such individuals may be unable to quit drinking not only due to their physiological addiction but also because this self-destructive behavior is triggered by emotions and thought patterns. Considering this, the role of the counselor would be to help the client recognize these and look at their bad habit from a different perspective.

Empathy is an important characteristic of a counselor’s job because, in many cases, people experience difficulty with managing their emotions and do not have a source of social support to help them go through difficulties. In that case, the counselor’s job would be to listen to their client and show that the latter’s emotions are recognized and accepted in this setting. Ideally, the use of empathy during the therapeutic sessions should help the client develop their emotional intelligence so that they could effectively manage their emotions on their own.

Theoretical Approach

CBT

My preferred setting would be an outpatient clinic where I would meet with my clients.

The first theory that closely aligns with my personal view of counseling and the approach I want to practice with my clients is cognitive-behavioral Therapy (CBT). Firstly, CBT fits into my view of human nature and my counseling philosophy since the basis of this approach is the idea that by changing a person’s thoughts, it is possible to change their emotions and feelings, as well as behaviors. The primary concept on which CBT is built is that a person’s throughs, feelings, and actions are interconnected, and therefore, by influencing one aspect of this combination, it is possible to influence the other ones as well (Beck, 2020). Moreover, another idea of CBT is that a person’s negative thoughts can create a vicious cycle leading to anxiety and depression.

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When reflecting on my counseling philosophy and CBT, I would argue that they are similar since I believe that many people are affected by negative self-thoughts and vicious ideas regarding themselves. Typically, these negative thoughts arise if a person sees some discrepancies between their character traits, preferences, and behaviors and those that are seen as normal by society. The benefit of CBT is that it helps reframe these perceptions, for example, by encouraging the client to ask critical questions and determine where the core of their insecurities lies. The third concept of CBT is that it is designed to work with the current issues, which helps improve the client’s wellbeing right away. I see this as an important benefit as other traditional forms of Therapy often require prolonged periods of time before the client can see a change in their behavior or mood.

Behavior Therapy

The second theoretical approach I plan on employing in my counseling practice is Behavior Therapy. On the one hand, it is very similar to CBT. However, the focus of behavior therapy is on the self-destructive behaviors that potentially harm a person’s wellbeing, in contrast to CBT that primarily emphasizes a person’s thoughts (Calbring et al., 2018). This approach aligns with my counseling philosophy since it emphasizes the current issues and how I can help the client feel better at this moment, similarly to CBT.

The second concept of Behavioral Therapy is that it allows leveraging a wide variety of practices, depending on the client’s needs and personality traits. For example, aversion therapy can be used to help clients with substance abuse issues by addressing the stimulus, which triggers the underside behaviors (Calbring et al., 2018). For me, the benefit of Behavioral Therapy is the ability to be flexible when selecting specific techniques and methods based on the client’s needs and respond to them, as I think that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. The final concept of behavioral Therapy that aligns with my personal view of counseling is that it can be used to treat a wide variety of conditions, including anxiety, depression, and other conditions, such as alcohol abuse or substance abuse in general. For me, flexibility with the methods I use is important, and I want to employ instruments that can help a wide range of clients. Hence, the behavioral therapy approach is suitable for me because I will be able to work with different people.

Rational-Emotive-Behavior-Therapy

The third theory that I plan on using in my counseling practice is Rational-Emotive-Behavior Therapy (REBT). RBET is a theory that is based on a philosophy, and the goal of this approach is to help clients feel happier and satisfied with their lives. The basic principle of REBT is that people have beliefs about themselves to situations they are in that are erroneous and that cause them to feel in a negative way. Hence, by addressing these, a counselor can help their client feel better and lead a more fulfilling life. This closely aligns with my view that society constricts individuals in many ways since it deems some behaviors or character traits as undesirable. As a result, this person may think that their actions are wrong and inadequate and experience a wide range of negative emotions linked to these experiences.

The next conception of RBET is that people are a combination of rational and irrational elements, which affect our thoughts and behaviors. For example, a common issue of procrastination may be a result of a person’s negative self-thoughts and the manifestation of their irrational being (McCauley, 2018). The goal of theory, in the case of RBET, is to identify these throughs and behaviors and address them by educating the client and teaching them how to identify and work with these thoughts. This is the third concept of RBET that aligns with my personal view of counseling since I believe that cooperation between the counselor and the client and the therapeutic relationship between them is essential for productive work.

Arguably, all three theories that I selected as the ones that closely align with my counseling approach are based on helping the client address their immediate needs and teach them to lead a more fulfilling life. They also closely align with my view of human nature; for example, the basis of RBET is the idea that a person is a combination of rational and irrational beings. My philosophy of human nature implies that people are a combination of their emotions together with the ability to think logically. Ultimately, emotions are not rational; although it is possible to understand what caused them through logical thinking, this factor often leads to confusion and sadness. Behavior therapy and CBT align with my view of human nature because I believe that thoughts predefine how we feel and act. Moreover, with behavioral therapy, the counselor and the client can determine the destructive behaviors that ultimately harm an individual and change them for the better. As for the “human as a social being” element of my counseling philosophy, I think it is important to understand that in my view, the destructive behaviors and negative self-thinking are all a result of a person’s innate desire to be a part of a group. Arguably, living in communities has been an essential part of human survival, and as a result, our instincts and emotions prompt us to behave in a way that will not lead to our exclusion from a social group. However, s rational beings, we may understand that our character traits or preferences are different from those widely accepted by society, and as a result, we may experience anxiety and negative emotions. The theoretical approaches I selected help to identify and address these negative ideas, emotions, and behaviors and work with them to ensure that the client feels better.

Critical Evaluation of the Approach

As with anything, it is important to understand the strengths and limitations of the approach to counseling that I selected to be able to adapt it to the needs of a diverse population or, in case my approach is not suitable, refer the client to a counselor who will be able to address their needs. The strengths of the theoretical approaches I selected and my personal view of counseling are the ability to address pressing issues beginning with the first sessions with the client. Unlike traditional therapy methods, such as psychoanalysis, CBT, Behavior Therapy, and RBET, emphasize the need to work with problems that the client is concerned with right now. Hence they see an immediate result and an improvement. In addition, methods such as RBET imply that a counselor acts as a teacher for the client, showing them how to act more effectively and how to identify their negative thinking patterns. Similarly, Behavior Therapy helps identify destructive behaviors and triggers that cause these actions.

The elimination of my counseling method is that it does not emphasize the need to review the client’s past to determine what events from their childhood or immediate life may have caused the negative thoughts and behaviors. The flexibility of the theories and methods I have selected is another strength that also helps work with diverse populations. However, a limitation is a lack of attending given to a person’s culture and how it may impact their behaviors and thoughts, as would be appropriate with therapy methods that imply an in-depth analysis of a person and their actions and emotions. Thus, I think that the theories I selected and my approach to counseling are very versatile and can help with varied client needs.

Case Analysis

Values

As a counselor, I recognize the need to understand my values and how these can impact the way I view my client cases and the way I approach working with my clients. With Jasmine’s case, I would argue that important values I need to consider are compassion, open-mindfulness, and responsibility. First and foremost, Jasmine has difficulty deciding since she is in a challenging situation. One conflict of values that some counselors may see with this scenario is the fact that Jasmine has considered options such as abortion or giving up her baby for adoption since the two may come in conflict with some religious or personal values. Arguably, if a counselor faces such a client case, it is their responsibility to notify the latter about the conflict and advice a different professional who can approach the problem in a non-judgemental manner.

I would argue that the personal values discussed above would aid in a given scenario since they emphasize the client’s ability to make independent decisions. Hence, these values would be beneficial when working with Jasmine’s case because the priority would be to ensure that she is no longer stressed and can make a rational and independent decision, regardless of the specific option that she chooses. Therefore, I would focus on accepting Jasmine’s assessment of her situation and her viewpoint or decision that she makes regarding controversial topics such as abortion or adoption since my priority is the wellbeing of the client. Moreover, because my value is being compassionate and responsible as a counselor, I understand the importance of supporting yet not disturbing the clients’ decisions, as they are the ones that have to make them and carry those out. Hence, considering my values, I would focus on a patient-centered approach to ensure that Jasmine can address her irrational thoughts and concerns.

Presenting Concerns

In the given scenario, the two central presenting concerns are Jasmine’s increasing panic and her struggle with making a decision regarding her pregnancy. The first basic conflict is that this client is in panic, which obstructs her from reviewing her options rationally and choosing the one that is in line with her values and morals. Secondly, there is a conflict between the options that she has, such as becoming a single parent, choosing abortion, or giving up the baby for adoption, and her catastrophic evaluation of these options.

The nature of the client’s struggle is in the expectations and her viewing the potential options, such as abortion, adoption, or becoming a single parent, as equally awful. Firstly, according to the case scenario, Jasmine expected her boyfriend to marry her after disclosing the issue. Potentially she has seen this scenario as the most suitable outcome of the situation, and his ejection might have caused her to feel sadness, despair, and other negative emotions. Secondly, the other options Jasmine discussed are viable despite the fact that Jasmine has asserted that none of them would work for her. Here, there is a conflict between the arational approach, where she can choose what she wants to do in the future, for example, go to college, in which case she would need to consider abortion or adoption, or become a parent. There are some underlying negative thoughts that affect her ability to perceive these scenarios rationally, which can be addressed through Therapy.

The concern that has to be discussed first is Jasmine’s mounting panic since these negative emotions affect her ability to think rationally, and stress can even cause harm to her and her child’s health. Considering the personal approach to counseling, the main priority would be to ensure that Jasmine’s health is not endangered by her emotional struggles, which would require ensuring that she understands her emotions and irrational thoughts.

Considering the personal approach to counseling, the nature of Jasmine’s struggle is in the intensity of the negative emotions that she experienced and the irrational evaluation of the potential options she has. Mainly, one of the options she considered was becoming a single parent since the other two are against her values and moral standards. However, she believes that this option will hinder her ability to go to college and move to a different city. Still, a rational evaluation of the issue would help consider other potential options, such as discussing Jasmine’s situation with her parents and seeking their help.

Strategies

Both CBT and RBET have techniques that are suitable for working with client cases where important decisions have to be made. For example, RBET includes a technique titled ABCDEF, each letter corresponding to a step where the client evaluates the adverse event and their perceptions of it (Neukrug, 2020). For instance, “C” stands for the consequences of the beliefs that a person holds regarding the adverse event they have experienced. For example, Jasmine may believe that all of the three options she has will have a negative impact on her future life, such as her ability to go to an out-of-state college. Through ABCDEF, the counselor can review the potential scenarios and help Jasmine evaluate them critically to ensure that her perception of the situation is more realistic and logical and not affected by irrational ideas.

With RBET’s ABCDEF approach, the most important part is evaluating the “B’s” or the beliefs that the client has, which are based on the values and philosophy they use in their daily life. The “D-E-F” part of this technique allows disputing the irrational and illogical mediators that harm the client’s self-perception. At the final stage, the counselor helps the client reevaluate their emotional response to the event. One of the pillars of RBET is the idea that humans are innately inclined to exaggerating the events they experience. Hence, any of the scenarios that were presented in this case study can be reviewed rationally and reframed, which will help the client find a scenario they are satisfied with. The goal would be to help the client recognize that her evaluation of the potential options is affected by her negative ideas since she does not consider the positive aspects of becoming a mother, or giving up a child for adoption, or choosing abortion.

Critical Evaluation

When applying the personal approach to counseling to Jasmine’s case, the main limitations include the lack of discrepancy between my persona values and those of the client. Perhaps, a better option would be to work with a counselor whose moral values align with Jasmine’s, since in that case, she could feel more connection. However, with my approach, the goal is to ensure the client’s wellbeing and happiness, which is why, unlike Jasmine, I would consider discussing the options she dismissed: abortion and adoption. Hence, my approach would include a discussion of these options and why this client perceives them as negative to ensure that these are rational decisions that are made considering her values and not the ones made because she is afraid of the social pressure or her parents’ reaction.

On the other hand, this approach requires empathy and an establishment of a therapeutic relationship between the counselor and the client. This is necessary to ensure that Jasmine can feel comfortable sharing her fears and expectations during the session, which will affect the productivity of work. However, since this approach requires empathy towards the client’s decision, Jasmine’s values and her decision to avoid abortion and adoption as options altogether would be respected as these are important to her.

Behavioral Therapy is not applicable when working on client cases that involve the decision-making discussed in the case scenario. The underlying principle of CBT is uncovering the cognition issues, such as patterns of negative thoughts or other negative perceptions. However, in Jasmine’s case, her behaviors are not a concern, and an emphasis should be placed on working with her cognition and helping her recognize her emotions. In general, my approach to counseling implies flexibility, which would allow me to utilize different methods and techniques. Hence, I would be able, to begin with showing Jasmine compassion and acceptance to ensure that she is not judged for her pregnancy, and after that, I would select a suitable technique to help her recognize her negative or irrational thoughts.

Professional Compliance

Any counselor has to pass a professional board certification in order to practice, which means that they have to comply with a set of standards and a professional code of ethics to keep their license. Moreover, the board’s job is to balance the protection of the public by ensuring that the certified counselors work following the standards and support the work of counselors. In the given case scenario, both the code of ethics and the legal frameworks require one to notify the parents of the minor seeking counseling.

Confidentiality is a basic practice principle of any therapy since it gives the client the confidence that anything they discuss during the session will be kept a secret by their counselor. The only exceptions are cases when withholding information can result in the client causing harm to themselves or others (Neukrug, 2020). The same rules apply when working with minors as the contents of their sessions should not become available unless the individual consents to discuss the Therapy with their caregivers.

In general, counselors use a HIPPA disclosure statement, which is a standard form where details of circumstances under which the contents of the therapeutic sessions will be disclosed, as well as individuals to whom this information will become available, are discussed. (“When do minors in therapy have a right to confidentiality?” 2019). The main cases when a counselor would be obliged to disclose the information from the session include child abuse cases, where child protective services must be contacted, or cases of neglect. Other important cases include the threat of self-harm or harming others. From an ethical perspective, the counselor’s duty is to respect the client’s decision to share or withhold information, especially in a clinical setting, such as a community clinic.

With Jasmine, one concern would be that although she is of legal age to make decisions regarding her pregnancy and future child, her partner is not since he is only 15 years old. Depending on what option she chooses, the counselor may need to insist on contacting the father of the baby and discussing his opinion on the issue. Overall, this paper is a discussion of the personal approaches to counseling and a case scenario that shows how these values and moral standards can be applied in real life using the example of Jasmine.

References

Beck, J. (2020). Cognitive behavioral therapy (3rd ed.). The Guilford Press.

Carlbring, P., Andersson, G., Cuijpers, P., Riper, H. & Hedman-Lagerlöf, E. (2018). Internet-based vs. face-to-face cognitive behavior therapy for psychiatric and somatic disorders: an updated systematic review and meta-analysis. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, 47(1), 1-18.

McCauley, E., Berk, M., Asarnow, J., Adrian, M., Cohen, J., & Korslund, K. (2018). Efficacy of dialectical behavior therapy for adolescents at high risk for suicide. JAMA Psychiatry, 75(8), 777.

Neukrug, E. (2020). Contemporary theories in counseling and psychotherapy. Cognella Academic Publishing.

When do minors in therapy have a right to confidentiality? (2019). Web.

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PsychologyWriting. 2022. "Personal Approach to Counseling." October 30, 2022. https://psychologywriting.com/personal-approach-to-counseling/.

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