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SECTION I: INTRODUCTION
Human Relation is the process in which humans relate to, connect with, and engage in relationships with the people around them. We are relational beings and have a need to connect. Those connects start from birth and carry on for the remainder of our lives. They help mold who we are, who we become, what we do, and how we want to live. Human Relations is how we interact with other people in life, it is an everyday necessity. Human Relations can be suited across multiple areas in life that involves relationships or behaviors, whether this is in a workplace setting, public space, or in your home. This paper presents my understanding of Human Relations based upon my personal and professional experience, my relationships, schooling, and internship.
The study of Human Relations dates it back to the 1800’s and involved many theorists. One in particular, Elton Mayo was deemed the founder of Human Relations movement, due to several series of one of his experiments that became a turning-point in how management thinking would be viewed. Upon further reading, I discovered that in 1927 Mayo and his colleagues supervised this major interpersonal experiment of its time. The experiment was conducted at the Hawthorne Works of the Western Electric Company production labor plant in Chicago and later received the name Hawthorne Experiment. This experiment was to measure work environments and work output. During these experiments, the interaction from management between staff were greatly tested. When managers took the time to give employees one on one time with them, the work performance of those employee’s tremendously improved and thus giving the world a definition of a new term “Hawthorne Effect”. From the conclusions of this experiment, if managers and supervisors were going to be effective and efficient, they had to have firsthand knowledge of and acquaintance with their subordinates’ human relations needs (Henderson & Long, 2016).
Do we still need Human Relations in the 21st century? Absolutely. Human Relations is all around us. When we better understand human behaviors, social dynamics, influences, communication, empathy and the power of vulnerability we can begin to learn from the mistakes of our past and make a significant impact on the world around us. We are social change agents, determined to leave the world a little better than it was before. As long as the world has people living in it, the world will have Human Relations.
In this very moment our country is still greatly divided, we are split between blue and red, right and left, liberal and conservative. Every single day no matter the time, there is a news channel or media outlet broadcasting and reporting on the political divide, further separating our country, and ignoring the real issues plaguing our country, issues of racism, poverty, educational funding, incarceration rates, and mistreatment of so many marginalized people. People are spending hours upon hours debating on social media only to ignore the other side and find no real solutions. The unwillingness to have respectable communication in this present age is disheartening, as people, communication is integral to how we establish and maintain our relations with others (as cited in Clark & Kashima,2007). As technology and social media continues to grow, we are losing our ability to have real relationships and communicate face to face. Before phones, the internet, and tablets became a distraction we hung out with friends and we did life together uninterrupted. Our family infrastructure, our school systems, and our interpersonal relationships are all broken. People are leading more lives of inclusion behind screens, which sadly is becoming a growing way of life each day.
Another important component of Human Relations is cultural diversity and acceptance. We are all created unique beings. We all have different gifts, struggles, upbringings, and strengths. It is important that we are able to teach, have a conversation with, and respectful interactions with anyone we come across regardless of belief or background. We can do this by embracing those who are different than us; sitting down and having a conversation with someone we normally would not. Unity is important for this present time and the growth of our world’s future.
How are we to ensure the future generations will succeed if we do not show examples of positive or appropriate human relations? Throughout my time in the Human Relations program, I have thoroughly enjoyed the positive interactions with people from all different backgrounds and the freedom to discuss important issues. Although we come from different places, we all have one goal in mind and that is to make an impact on those in the world around us.
In junior high and high school before I knew what I wanted to do in life, I was a peer helper. This was basically a junior counselor, someone that the students could go talk to if they did not feel comfortable speaking with an adult. What I did not realize at the time was that my role as a peer helper was a stepping stone for where I am now. I can see how it was always a part of who I was to help others. Now that I am in my final days of graduate school with the University of Oklahoma, the courses that were offered in the program gave me an opportunity to look internally and to grasp my focus, as well as decide if this was the path I wanted to take as my part in Human Relations.
I feel that regardless of what field I go into from this program, I will be affecting someone’s life and I need to know my limits as a person. Being aware that everyone that we meet or have not met is dealing with a biological, psychological, or societal issue (Newman & Newman, 2015). Knowing this information helps me to better understand, relate to, and connect with people. The Human Relations program has provided me with valuable skills that I will be able to utilize in any capacity. The knowledge I have gained is invaluable.
SECTION II: LITERATURE REVIEW OF AREA OF EMPHASIS
The Human Relations program has provided me with a strong foundation for my future as a therapist. The courses, readings, counseling practice, and internship have helped to shape my understanding of the counseling word. My literature review will highlight my understanding of the many processes, theories, and approaches to counseling.
Therapy is a unique process. In order to have a successful client-therapist relationship one must establish clear boundaries, provide a safe environment, be an active listener, and have empathy. The skills of a therapist are developed over time and require being intentional about the interaction and relationship with the client. For best practices a therapist must have a clear understanding of ethical guidelines and boundaries so that they are able to best serve their client. Ethical understanding is an active process of continuous awareness that involves constant questioning and personal responsibility (Pope & Vasquez, 2016).
It is important to have and maintain an ethical code throughout a therapeutic career. Therapists hold a certain position of power, they are a safe place where the deepest darkest secrets are shared. This makes it extremely important to honor a client by maintaining confidentiality and being an active listener. Rushmore Kidder (1995) stated “ethics is complex”. A therapist will have a balancing scale between judgement and discretion. Meaning there may be two different reasons in making a choice in therapy of doing what you feel is the right thing or keeping your client’s information under confidentiality.
Another factor of ethics in the therapy process, is informed consent. Informed consent from a client is a must and may need to be collected multiple times throughout the therapy relationship. The process of informed consent provides both the patient and the therapist an opportunity to make sure that all parties involved adequately understand a shared venture. It is a process of communication and clarification (Pope & Vasquez,2016). Informed consent is informing the client of expected outcomes in therapy and the state laws that it must provide.
In therapy informed consent forms will state that as a therapist there is a duty to report if the client is a danger to themselves or others. This includes cases of abuse and suicide. Having informed consent helps the client make the decision on how their care will go and if they want to participate or not by protecting both parties. It would be in the therapist’s best interest to give the client informed consent on everything involved in the therapy treatment process.
When working with a client the therapist will need to gain trust to establish rapport. Trust is a firm belief in a truth, reliability or strength in someone or something, but to gain trust you must know what trust means from a client’s perspective. Newman and Newman (2015) further stated that trust emerges in the course of a relationship as one person discovers the traits in another person. In the Human Relations program, it was taught that trust is one of the biggest reasons a client will or will not decide to find a therapist. A therapist takes on a major role in a client’s life, involving trust. Most clients do not go into therapy ready to be completely open to a “stranger”. One way to establish that trust is to be consistent and to allow the client to talk without fear of being judged. This does not mean they will not ever be challenged in the therapy process it just means that you have provided a safe atmosphere where they are open to share all of who they are.
Communication is an important part of life, to be used to form relationships and spread knowledge. Clients from diverse backgrounds come to therapy with different needs. Communication skills in the therapy process is a way to help a client find a solution to their problems. Communication is both verbal and nonverbal. When we are with a client both forms of communication matter. Our tone and the words we say is our verbal communication. How we say them are just as important as what we say. Nonverbal communication are our facial cues and posture. We want to have nonverbal cues that express to out clients that we are listening, we care, and we want them there. These communication skills need to become “second nature” to helpers (Egan, 2014).
Once trust and positive communication are prominent between the therapist and client, a rapport can be established. From the rapport, a therapist must investigate which approach should be used to fit a client’s need or needs through another important piece in the therapy process, which is the intake and an assessment. This assessment helps to determine the most immediate need or needs of the client. To determine the client’s needs, Abraham Maslow pioneered what we call today, the hierarchy of needs. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs consists of five levels of importance in the client’s life, which are physiological, safety, belongingness, esteem, and self-actualization. In these levels, a clients’ hierarchy of need can be food for their family, shelter and clothing because they are homeless, or safety because they are in an abusive relationship and needs assistance with a plan to leave. All these needs can be or should be a form of self-motivation in therapy. As a therapist, there are many clients that have psychological, biological or social disorders that may prevent them from meeting these needs as others.
Upon moving through these levels, “we are able to strive toward self-actualization only after four of the basic needs are met” (Corey,2013). The main purpose is to determine what is the highest importance or immediate need for the client, after this is established, the other levels of needs for the client can be satisfied. One of the therapy approaches that would coincide with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is Carl Rogers’ person-centered therapy. The person-centered therapy approach that Carl Rogers spearheaded, places independence as a goal and using that independence back into the clients’ life and community around them. The therapist will not provide specific goals for the client, but the client will illustrate their own goals with the help of the therapist.
In the Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy book, Arthur C. Bohart and Jeanne C. Watson stated that person-centered therapist are in agreement on the matter of not setting goals for what clients need to change, yet they differ on the matter of on how to best help clients achieve their own goals and to find their own answers (as cited in Corey, 2013, p. 179). According to Rogers, individuals by and large, had it within themselves to solve their own problems (Rogers et al,1967). In person-centered therapy a therapist’s relationship with the client promotes the client’s capacity to find and use chances experiences as well as discover their inner resources (Glauser & Bozarth, 2001). The client’s willingness to change is the responsibility of the client’s alone.
Typically, when a client comes to therapy it is because they are experiencing a crisis of some sort. Whether that be the loss of a loved one, loss of a job, a mental illness, a divorce, major life stress, substance addiction, or identity crisis. Crisis is the perception or experiencing of an event or situation as an intolerable difficulty that exceeds the person’s current resources and coping mechanisms (James & Gilliland, 2017). When a crisis happens to a person it not only affects them, but it affects the others around them. As a therapist there are several different therapy theories that can be used for a client in crisis. Solution-focused therapy can help the client return to a capacity of emotional and mental stability. James and Gilliland (2017) stated that an eclectic/integrated approach involves intentionally and systematically selecting and integrating valid concepts and strategies from all available approaches to helping clients. This approach in therapy is one that is not used often by a therapist, given the time it takes to be skilled in successfully performing this therapy with a client.
A therapist will need to maintain a flexibility in the approaches being used with clients knowing that a client is their own person and one approach will not work for one client as it did for another. Establish boundaries with the client for professional and personal reasons. As a therapist, there needs to be a clear understanding of the different factors it takes to have a successful outcome in therapy.
SECTION III: APPLICATION AND CRITICAL ANALYSIS
The counseling agency that I completed my internship was not a corporation agency, as in the well-known ones in Oklahoma. The office consisted of only two therapists, three case managers, and one office manager. The lead therapist whom I did my internship under provides in-office counseling and the other therapist provides in-office and home-based therapy. The clients that the therapists see range from children, adults, families, and the elderly. Most clients seen are from low-income households or on a fixed income. Majority of the clients are on SoonerCare, Medicare, or Medicaid. A lot of the adults that were seen were non-high school graduates, most had only completed the 10th grade. The clients that seek therapy with the office are dealing with trauma, past or current crisis, loss, mental disorders, legal issues, etc.
My role during my internship was to observe the supervising therapist and learn the therapy process as he presented it. In session, the therapist would introduce me to the client and ask the proper permission of the client on allowing me to observe their session or not. In session I learned how to ask the client the right questions to help complete the intake form. This was due to some of the client’s inability to clearly understand the questions on the intake. I also learned how to engage in conversation to make the client feel more comfortable, and to gain specific information needed for assessing the client and establishing an effective treatment plan for them. Learning how to write a treatment plan was a bit of a challenge for me, which is due to me being a perfectionist on my work. My fear in writing treatment plans, is that I will not put enough information in or that I will not write logical or coherent data from the intake process.
I remember one of the most intense cases I was able to witness during my internship, was one that involved a client who suffered from schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This client was in need of help with daily life maintenance and needed continual monitoring. My supervising therapist and I developed a crisis intervention plan for this client along with a treatment plan. The crisis intervention model used for this client was the Assessment of the presenting problem, including emergency psychiatric and other medical needs and trauma assessment, Connecting clients to support systems, Traumatic reactions and posttraumatic stress disorders (ACT) which was designed by Albert R. Roberts. This model has seven stages: crisis assessment, establishing rapport, identifying major problems, dealing with feelings, generating and exploring alternatives, developing plans, and providing follow-up (James & Gilliland,2017).
During treatment, the client went into what I feel was a regression. My supervisor and I went out to the client’s house on multiple welfare check visits and did not receive a response each day we visited. I was there when he made the decision to call local law enforcement, due to client acting erratic and becoming a threat to themselves and others. Law enforcement came and picked up the client to transport to an inpatient facility. This crisis intervention case was my first introduction to the process of crisis intervention and how a client would need to be handled if I were to encounter a client regressing in my care and how to deal with other parties that are or needed to be involved.
My supervisor’s main method of counseling was more solution-focused brief therapy (SFBT) to his clients. This gave him the opportunity to help guide the client in acknowledging their abilities to come up with their own solution or solutions needed to improve their situations. Metcalf (2001) stated that SFBT emphasizes competencies rather than deficits, and strengths rather than weaknesses (as cited in Corey, 2013). From what I observed from the sessions, SFBT seemed to be the approached that work for my supervisor’s clients. With that said, in my opinion, the way my supervisor provides care to the clients and serving the community that sees him, is the best way that he can as a therapist in this field, because this is his style of counseling that he has crafted over the years.
The agency I interned for is doing a great job for their clients and it is known not every place is perfect, so I would say one of the needs of the agency and the community around it is transportation. A lot of the clients that are being seen and that are on the agency’s list to be seen do not have sufficient transportation. The nearest bus stop to the office is about one mile away. Which is unacceptable for the clients that are unable to walk without assistance and the intersection that must be crossed is extremely busy. In the small amount of time during my internship, I have seen my share of accidents involving pedestrians being hit by cars near the office.
Another area of the agency that needs attention paid to and would benefit the client’s needs is an equal amount of home visit clients between the two therapists. During my internship only one of the therapists were seeing clients at their home. The agency has a stack of referrals with clients that are unable to physically come to the office and some referrals are of single parents who have inadequate resources for childcare and cannot attend therapy regularly. If home visits were readily available, I feel that more clients could be served. Since home visits are out of the question at this time, there must be a solution to help clients with children attend therapy. Maybe an after-care program or childcare room in the agencies for situations as this? I feel it is too much for one therapist to handle all home visits within an agency.
My final critique of the agency is the lack of therapists in the office. Currently, there are only two authorized therapists to see client’s right now. One, who is my supervisor, has 30+ years of experience and the other is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) candidate. In my opinion, the caseloads are too much for just the two of them and the three case managers. I feel that this could possibly lead to a burn out for all parties.
My program of study and internship has prepared me greatly for my future in the mental health field. I feel that I have received the tools that will help me be a beneficial therapist, but I also know that I still need training and experience to grow in this field. Before I started my internship, I was familiar with the medical field and terminology and I feel that during this internship I learned more terminology in the area of mental health from writing treatment plans and using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, V (DSM V), to look up diagnoses. I learned how to write medical necessity letters for mental health reasons as well. In my experience, I also feel that I have grown as a person. When I was observing the client’s discussing intimate feelings about their lives, fears, and downfalls; I took a piece of advice my supervisor gave to every client in session and applied it in my own life.
As an intern, I also learned what type of counseling style I would like to present to my clients. In the reading of Gerald Corey (2013), he stated to borrow from others, but at the same time do it in your own distinct way. My supervisor informed me after one of the sessions, that I had a great way of getting clients to relax and confide in me at an early rather than later stage in therapy. In my opinion, client’s feel comfortable opening up to someone who can relate to some of the situations they are going through or have been through more than someone who does not understand what they are saying or trying to say. I hope to continue having a rapport as I did in my internship with clients that I will see in the future.
Being involved in therapy I did surprise myself with my emotions and how vulnerable I would get. I would catch myself tearing up with some of the client’s, who were starting to cry or were crying during session. It took most of my internship, to learn how to control this. So that I can show what I feel is a professional composure. I never want the client to feel uncomfortable with me and think that I am an overly emotional or an emotional unstable therapist, so I will show emotion when needed.
Regarding emotions, during my internship I ended up losing my full-time job and I was also seeing a therapist of my own, outside the scope of my interning agency. I saw a therapist because self-care is an important part of the therapist position. It is vital to find a way to prevent burnout and to vent your life frustrations, so those emotions or attitudes do not come out during your session with clients. Having self-care is also needed so that you do not bring your work home to your family. Going to see my therapist, eased my mind and emotions and gave me advice of keeping up my self-care.
Currently, as I sit and think about all the work that I have completed and my experiences up until this point wrapped up into one of the most important papers of my life in the program and the end of two weekends of classrooms and game day traffic, I get excited and nervous to know I am nearing what I have worked so hard for. In these final days, I have spoken to a lot of my friends and classmates on my doubts of if I can do this or not, and everyone says, you got this, you CAN do this. Why would you question yourself? I feel it is only human, to have the joy of being able to follow my calling as well as a fear to be partly responsible for someone’s mental health journey. In this field or any career someone may choose, I feel it is good to have questions and be humble in everything you do and knowing your limits in every aspect of your life.
So, as I close my eyes and take a deep breath, this is where I say goodbye and let my work speak for itself.
- Henderson, G. & Long, W.C., (2016). Introduction to Human Relations Studies: Academic Foundations and Selected Social Justice Issues. Springfield, IL: Thomas Books.
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- James, R.K. & Gilliland, B.E., (2017). Crisis Intervention Strategies (8th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
- Metcalf, L., (2001) Solution Focused therapy. In R.J. Corsini (Ed.) Handbook of innovative therapy (2nd ed., pp. 647-659). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
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