What do you believe is the basic nature of people?
I believe that every individual is born into complete innocence. The basic nature of a baby is full of love. Babies naturally want love and to give love through their smiles and coos. Babies are gifts of love from God, but as a child grows older they learn how to adapt to their environment. Children experience the so called “bad things” in life such as peer pressure, family violence, drugs, abuse and loss of loved ones. No one can explain why children or people in general go through hurtful and tragic experiences, but most people state it is just a part of life. While an individual goes through trials and tribulations, they are given a chance to grow from the experience or regress. Individuals also learn how to cope with these events from their parents or guardians. I believe that how individuals cope with their experiences make up their basic nature.
The person centered approach states that every individual is believed to be truthful. Counselors have faith in their clients because they believe in the competency to change. I also believe that people are like the existentialist and want to find meaning to their life. I think that people believe there is a key hiding somewhere in the world and they need the key in order to unlock their life meaning. People are in a steady state of change. Individuals would also like to gain self-awareness and gain a sense of identity. Through integrating both of these theories into my belief of human development has helped me to understand that individuals have wants and needs within a lifetime. Which as a counselor, I can help them to define and reach a healthy state of being.
How does healthy or normal development occur?
What is healthy? What is normal? I believe that there are societal standards that tell society what is normal and what is healthy, but I also believe that through life experiences each individual has their own personal definition. Cultural environments play essential roles as well. With that being said, my own personal opinion of healthy and normal are based on how I was personally raised, experience, and latest research I have read.
Adlerian identified that certain situations and conditions limit one’s ability to make healthy decisions. In other words, development and growth can be influenced by our family in our first years of life. The existential approach states that individuals have the capacity for self-awareness and meaning for life. I think that when you have discovered who you are, learning to use coping skills appropriately, then you are at a healthy developmental state.
How does normal development go awry?
Normal development goes awry when certain events affect an individual such as relocating, a new job, attaining a higher degree. Although these events can be seen as healthy and positive, an individual may feel anxiety and as if they are not in their “normal” state. Other life changing events include an illness or death of a loved one, which can cause the person to feel as though they are losing control of their surroundings.
According to the existential theory, a common theme is striving for freedom, but things get in the way sometimes when individuals are lacking awareness of personal responsibility. I believe that yes, your childhood does play an essential role in development, but as one gets older and mature, then one realizes that they are in control of their own destiny. Things in life will happen, but learning how to cope adequately is the key. Through being a counselor, I can help encourage and guide clients to effective coping strategies.
What should be the goals of counseling?
I think that the main goal of the counselor is to assure that the client reaches their best healthy state attainable. Each individual is different — some have one tragic event while others have too many to count — some clients are ready to do the work while others are still taking baby steps. No matter the stage of the client, the counselor should always have faith that the client can overcome their situation. The counselor should always direct and support the client because sometimes the counselor is the only hope the client has.
Another goal is for the counselor to use different theories to fit each client’s needs. Counselors should understand that each individual is unique; therefore, may need different approaches. I want to be a faith based counselor, and I will have to make sure that I do not impose my values on the client, because it is unethical. Overall, the counselor should be a role model and remember that they are on this wonderful journey together.
The person-centered approach main goal is for the client to attain more autonomy. Therapy is aimed to provide an environment where the client can become a fully functioning person. The therapeutic process is when the counselor encourages the client to become more open, self-trust, an inner source of evaluation, and for the client to achieve an eagerness to cultivate. Existentialist aim of therapy is to encourage clients to reflect on life and start to reshape it. The rational emotive behavioral therapies main aim is teach clients how to change dysfunctional emotions and behaviors into healthy ones. I agree with these theories and feel that they can help produce an exponential amount of positive change for my clients. Through integrating all of these theories, I hope to help my clients toward a life that is healthy and stable.
How does the counseling process facilitate desired change in a person?
In helping clients achieve their personal therapy goals, it will ensue that the person will have to make some changes in their thinking, emotional states and lifestyle. First and foremost, counselors must be aware that they cannot change the client. The client must change themselves. According to rational emotive behavioral therapy (REBT), individuals need to recognize their irrational beliefs and change them with accurate beliefs. REBT therapist also gives homework so that the clients can go out into the real world and practice their new ways of thinking and coping. Carl Rogers states that clients have the capacity to change themselves and bring about healing. Clients are able to generate self-growth and are the primary agents of change. Rogers also states having faith in the clients in order to give them the confidence they need to make changes. I believe that these two theories will be most helpful in helping the client reach their goals in the counseling process.
What is the role of the counselor?
I believe that the role of the counselor is to be empathetic and non-judgmental toward their clients. Counselors should be congruent in and out of the office. Counselors must establish a balance in their lives emotionally, mentally, spiritually.
Counselors should have ways of coping with stress and burnout such as exercising, journaling, vacationing. Individuals must be aware that they cannot take care of anyone else unless they take care of themselves first.
Person centered affirms that there are three characteristics that counselors should display during therapy which are congruence, unconditional positive regard, and empathy. These are a must in building the therapeutic relationship in helping the client become fully functioning. Existential stresses that we are continually recreating ourselves. It is important to know that gaining knowledge and being open to change ourselves is a must.
If we as counselors cannot make any changes or growth, then how do we expect our clients to? Counselors should also know how to integrate the different theories to accommodate their clients, but not to change who they are. Overall, counselors must remember that they are on the journey with their clients in a life changing experience for both.
(Written Spring 2009)