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PSY 4540 W4 Assignment Counseling Interview

PSY 4540 W4 Assignment Counseling Interview

 

Counseling is helping another person to make sense of what seems senseless. It is a process of empowerment that allows people to connect with the power they have within themselves—power they may never have been aware they possessed. The process of counseling may employ many methods, techniques, and interventions, but its end goals are almost always the same—to alleviate distress and to promote change. As mental health professionals we are often faced with individuals who are desperately searching for answers and a way out of what feels like an endless maze. The purpose of this book is to help you develop the skills you will need to help others navigate the challenges of life and find answers to the questions that trouble them.

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Counseling is a profession that endeavors to assist individuals, couples, families, and groups to deal with a wide range of problems. Counseling may focus on emotional problems such as depression and anxiety; relationship issues such as divorce or infidelity; vocational difficulties like procrastination or performance problems; social issues like homelessness and prejudice; environmental issues such as coping with a natural disaster; or biological problems like chronic illness or infertility. Counseling is a relatively new resource available to individuals who are struggling to cope effectively. Only in the past century has counseling become a primary intervention for individuals experiencing psychological distress.

A considerable amount of time and energy has been devoted to distinguishing between counseling and psychotherapy (Adler, 1958Corsini & Wedding, 2000Patterson, 1973). We believe there are more similarities than differences between the two practices. As a result, we will use the terms counseling and psychotherapy interchangeably throughout this book. A therapeutic experience is an encounter that results in a desirable or beneficial effect. Whether you have been in formal therapy or not, you have probably had a therapeutic experience with a friend, family member, physician, massage or physical therapist, or through individual practices like journaling, meditation, or prayer. All of us have experienced the alleviation of distress through some type of therapeutic experience; however, these may not have been psychotherapy or counseling per se.

Counseling involves a professional relationship; it is therefore distinguished from the relationships we have with family or friends. Mental health professionals do not usually assess or treat people they know in other settings or capacities for ethical reasons (see Chapter 2). Typically, the counseling relationship is established for a specific reason—the reduction of symptoms, to effect change in a person’s life, or to develop a deeper understanding of the self. It is a relationship that is bound by clear ethical guidelines for conduct. These standards of practice (described in detail in Chapter 2) create a framework for the counselor and the client and are intended to protect the rights of the client. Each discipline within the field of mental health has its own unique code of ethics, but most principles of ethical practice are universal across disciplines.

The practice of counseling also employs a unique set of skills that are not utilized in other helping professions. Students often tell us that they have chosen counseling as a profession because they are “good at giving advice” or because people regularly turn to them for guidance. Although advice-giving is certainly a skill and one that may add value to others’ lives, it is not the hallmark of most counseling relationships. Rather, counseling is an endeavor that requires very particular types of listening, questioning, interpretation, and, at times, confrontation. The counselor and the client are on a journey together—a journey toward self-understanding and change. If you are to become a counselor who truly connects with clients and is effective, you must put aside your reliance on advice-giving. This textbook and the learning experiences you have at your internship or practicum site will provide you with an entirely new repertoire of skills for helping.

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