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My Counseling Theory
In this paper I discuss my personal theoretical approach to client counseling. I will explain my personal philosophy on counseling and describe my preferred approach to counseling. I will use information learned in this class and information from personal life experiences. I will also dissect a case study on Jasmine. I plan identify concerns for the client, explain a central concept and apply a technique to the case.
Personal Approach to Counseling
Philosophy of Human Nature
I honestly believe that humans are born to be good people. I believe that humans are created with good intentions by a higher being. I feel that people all need the dame basic needs to be supplied so that they can continue to do good in the world. The basic needs being love, food, water, and shelter. If these needs are not met, I feel that is when the bad begins to take a toll on a person. A person that are lacking basic needs being meet becomes under stress and I feel that is what causes the onset of negative behaviors.
In my parenting class we often discuss Abraham Maslow and his hierarchy of needs. Maslow hierarchy emphasizes on five areas physical, security, love, esteem, and self-actualization. Maslow theory like any theory has some implications that will keep the process from being successful. One implication I teach is that if one level of the pyramid is not being meet it becomes hard for a person to more to the next level. Self-Actualization is at the top of the Maslow Hierarchy (McLeod, 2017). According to Maslow, we are all striving for self-actualization (Seligman & Reichenberg, 2014). Once we obtain this piece we are then a productive human being.
The process of being good is not an easy process. It reverts right back to Maslow’s Hierarchy and self-actualization. If a person can make it to the top of the pyramid, then they become motivated. As humans we are motivated to be good people because we all like to be praised for doing good. We are motivated by receiving and giving love to one another. Our spirituality is another thing that motivates us to be who we are. As young children we mimic adults for their attention. For example, when babies learn something new and parents are excited about it they continue to do the task over and over to receive praise for the parent. We are also motivated by money. Humans wake up every morning to report to jobs, so they can have a peace of mind. Humans have started placing too much focus on monetarily gain and this is one area that causes us to suffer.
There are constantly trials and tribulations that arise to test us as humans. I feel that this is where our behaviors come into play. Humans are stressed by the same exact things that seem to motivate us. Often times we worry about others’ perceptions of us and the things that we do. We don’t like for our personal belongings to be misused, stolen, or destroyed. We stress about if we are good enough. We are stressed by anything that will affect our physical, emotional, or financial wellbeing. Most people do not like to be punished or criticized. When something does not go as planned it causes us to stress or to suffer. We suffer when we encounter any type of loss whether it’s a job, possession, and even a love one.
We as people are constantly evolving as we grow older from year to year. We learn from mistakes that we have personally made and from those mistakes of people around us. We begin to mature as we encounter new experiences throughout life. As when become adults and have our own children we grown to love someone else and learn to put someone else’s needs before our own. We thrive in being successful in school and the workplace. Ultimately, we learn that without the guidance of a superior being it is hard to exist. We all want to live a fulfilling life but, in that process, we must understand that everyday will not be perfect but everyday is a new chance at it. We use the power of love to keep us focused on living a meaningful life.
Role of The Counselor
According to the ASCA Ethical Standards for School Counselors, school counselors will “advocate for, lead and create equity-based school counseling programs that help close achievement, opportunity, and attainment gaps” (ASCA, 2012, p.14). My future setting as a counselor will mainly take place in a high school setting. I think that as a counselor it is important for me to develop trusting relationships with students on my case load. As a counselor I will act as a liaison between child and school officials. As a school counselor I have to display empathy and unconditional positive regard with my students. Providing this for my students will allow them to begin to form the trusting relationship that is need between client and counselor.
As a counselor, it is my job to create a sound understanding of my therapeutic approach, skills, and strategies I need to form a successful working relationship with my clients (Seligman & Reichenberg, 2014). My role as a school counselor on a high school level would be academic achievement, career exploration, and social and emotional well being of the student. A school counseling program is compiled in two ways: In the delivery system (school guidance curriculum, individual student planning, responsive services and system support) and in the use of time spent distributing the components (Brannan, 2015). School counseling today has transpired such much over the years. It so much more than sitting down in front of students discussing their personal needs.
As a school counselor my impact on the school climate would be an additional role. It would be my job to work with students of diverse populations and ensure they become successful. School counselors should be familiar with all the populations within the school and strive to be successful in providing services to each student equally. According to ASCA Ethical Standards, counselors need to “strive to contribute to a safe, respectful, nondiscriminatory school environment in which all members of the school community demonstrate respect and civility” (2016, section A.10.a). School should be a safe place for all students. It is part of the counselor job to make sure students feel safe.
My theoretical approach will derive from several approach types. I feel that when providing treatment to our clients we have to provide an approach that is helpful to them. Person-centered, Existential, and Reality are the approaches I will focus on. When dealing with Jasmine I have to be able to help her sort thru many issues to ensure that she has a successful plan. I will use the three approaches mentioned above to work on Jasmine’s case scenario.
Person Centered Approach
Person-centered therapy is a non-directive approach to helping the client. The approach requires, the client to take an active role in his or her treatment with the counselor providing support and encouragement. In person-centered therapy, the client controls the course and route of treatment, while the counselor simplifies the client’s responses to encourage self-understanding. According to Rogers (1979), a nondirective approach allows clients to utilize the skills within themselves to modify self-concepts, attitudes, and behaviors. Carl Rogers’ person-centered theory focuses on the belief that people have resources and understanding for evolving self-direction within themselves, when facilitated by the right counseling environment with (Seligman & Reichenberg, 2014). For this approach to be successful, the client and counselor must have a psychological relationship and the counselor needs to be able to fully display that they are empathetic (Rogers, 1957).
According to Rogers people are strong, and capable enough to handle their own difficulties as well as grow and evolve from them. In humanism it is ideal that people are able to resolve their own problems. The idea that people are also capable of change their own lives for the better and realize their full potential. The counselor job is to monitor the process by providing therapeutic conditions to the client. Ultimately the goal of treatment is to affirm and empower people to trust themselves as an inner resource. Use of the humanistic concept or talk therapy helps clients explore what they want to achieve in life.
Condition of Worth
Person Centered theory is shaped through the interactions we have with important people in our lives when we are children (Seligman & Reichenberg, 2014). While having these interactions we are looking for positive experiences and love. If the messages we receive are negative our self-image becomes damaged. The goals of person-centered treatment are to provide an environment free of conditional worth or negative messages and give the client complete freedom to make choices for themselves (Seligman & Reichenberg, 2014). Self-actualized individuals reaching your full potential of your long-term goals is what counselors want for their clients.
Carl Rogers believed self-actualization is a process that is life long, manifesting self-awareness, independence, and self-regulation (Seligman & Reichenberg, 2014). All people are inclined in the direction of actualization, growth, and health. This goes back to Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. In the hierarchy self-actualization is at the top of his pyramid. Self-Actualization contains happiness, fulfillment and peace. The idea of actualization is embedded in many approaches. Achieving actualization is the goal of becoming a person that can function.
The main idea of this Existential therapy is the prevailing worldview that science, religion, and politics dehumanizes what it means to be human (Seligman & Reichenberg, 2014). The worldview can be gender, age, and cultural ethnic, socioeconomic, religious, and family background. Existential therapy will be used to assist clients to deal with life-enhancing experiences like relationships, love, caring, commitment, courage, creativity, power, will, presence, spirituality, individuation, self-actualization, authenticity, acceptance and transcendence (Seligman & Reichenberg, 2014).
The Ultimate Concerns of the Human Condition
Use of existential approach, helps clients face their deepest fears and anxieties head on around the unavoidable challenges of life including death, isolation, and meaninglessness (Seligman & Reichenberg, 2014). As a human you are constantly working toward developing loving relationships and using your strengths to motivate and help others. You have an understanding that you are apart of a bigger being and you take pride in telling your personal stories to others. The use of your personal stories helps others deal with redemption and personal growth and show that loving life is not meaningless. Any when it is time to die you will not have any regrets because you have lived a meaningful life.
Living a life that is not dictated by the values of others describes authenticity. Taking responsibility for your choices and allowing yourself to live in the moment and be who you are reflects your authenticity. If you focus on decisions that are in denial and are driven by your past losses you are not truly living in the moment (Seligman & Reichenberg, 2014).
Life is all about having a meaning for what you are doing. In order to have a meaningful life people have to use their resources to add purpose and value to their own life. Realizing that we are authentic and working toward our elf actualization allows us to be able to confront our problems head on. As life moves forward we are constantly evolving to our full potential. Existentialists states that it is the journey that makes us human (Seligman & Reichenberg, 2014).
Reality therapy is deals with taking responsibility for your own thoughts and actions. This will enable a person to be accountable for what they do. As a counselor my plan is to work with teenagers and reality therapy is an effective way to solve problems, it is goal oriented (Arnold, 2015). It is a similar to cognitive behavior in many ways. It uses interventions for the client to focus on their thoughts and actions.
Total Behavior & Motivation
As people we are in control of our own actions and thoughts. This control of actions and thoughts indirectly controls our feelings. Individuals total behavior is made up of acting, thinking, feeling, and physiology (Seligman & Reichenberg, 2014). When using reality therapy theorists believe that one must alter their actions and then thoughts and self-talk will follow. The emphasis on thoughts and behaviors is what makes it a cognitive behavioral.
Quality words deal with what you want your life to be in a vision or image. It involves the people you want around you, the possessions you want to have and even the experiences you want to encounter. When you focus on things that are not reachable it causes you to become frustrated. As a person knowing what you want out of life allows you to make realistic choices and decisions which will make life more enjoyable.
Four main elements: wants, direction, evaluation, and planning are involved in reality therapy (Seligman & Reichenberg, 2014). Wants are identified as the images in your quality world. Direction focuses on your behavior and what motivates you. Evaluation is when the counselor assists you in assessing your goals and are non-judgmental. Your past is only talked about in relation to how it may impact your present. Planning is when you develop SMART goals and subdivided them by short term goals.
One strength of Person Centered is the relationship that is established between the client and the counselor. The counselor empowers the client to use their own strengths to be successful. Counselors and clients need to have a trusting relationship established for the therapy to work. Within a short time span a reality therapy provides clients a clear, positive and straightforward approach to treatment that can be utilized by most people (Seligman & Reichenberg, 2014). Each of the theories work to help the client have a more positive approach to making choices, allows them to become responsible for their lives. They also help the client to live a more meaningful life based of their choices.
Each of the theory has some type of limitation. Reality therapy minimizes events and how the work against current thoughts and behaviors. It offers strategies to achieve goals but sometimes fall short of fixing the problem. Existential therapy is individually-focused and offer little structure or direction from counselor. Due the limitations this approach can become long and drawn out and the client could lose focus. A cultural consideration is that Adler mainly focused on mostly nuclear families. In today’s society there are an array of types of families.
Values play such an important role in who we are and what we do as humans. Values can be considered from different perspectives and can mean so many different things to different people. When looking at Jasmines case study a few values stick out to me. As a woman I place value on having the right to choose whether or not to have children. I strongly feel that is completely up to a woman to make the decision about her body. In Jasmines case she has to deal with a few choices, abortion, adoption, or keeping the child. This choice is completely up to Jasmine at this point. I am empathetic to Jasmines current situation. As a teenage mother I found myself dealing with a similar issue at the age of 18.
Another value that comes to mind is the importance of family. When reading about Jasmine’s situation I was actually surprised that Jasmine felt that her family would not support her. Family is very important part of why people act and do certain things. I am sure that her parents may feel disappointed in her decisions but to count them out before discussing the situation is wrong. Every human has done something unacceptable in the family, but we learn from the mistake and that is what makes family ties stronger. Family are the same people that you spend the majority of your life with. They are often your hardest critic and that is because they want you to succeed. I feel that if Jasmine sits down with her family they will be able to work through the issue as a family. I feel that her first step is to be honest with the people that value her the most.
My last value is accepting responsibility for your actions. This probably the hardest thing today when you feel that you have destroyed you life by making a mistake. I feel that as a counselor you have to be honest with your clients and that helps them with developing the therapeutic relationship. In Jasmine’s case she is letting the father off the hook. The father is just as much at fault as she is. I feel that Jasmine needs to be upfront with a lot of people and take full responsibilities for her part. As a teenager I am sure that Jasmine is afraid and full of anxiety about her situation. I as sure that this will be with her throughout the pregnancy, but she can lighten her load by having some discussions with key people in her life. Jasmine needs to understand that this one setback in life is a lesson and that she can recover from this mistake. She needs to know that sometimes decision in life can affect you for a lifetime but that doesn’t give you grounds to stop living.
Jasmine is an 18-year-old high school senior pregnant by a 15 yea high school sophomore. Jasmine and her boyfriend have been sexually active for over a year without using birth control. Her boyfriend has questioned if he is the father of the child and has made it clear that he does not want the baby. Jasmine comes from a close-knit family but is afraid to discuss her current situation with them due to having anxiety. Jasmine is having trouble deciding what she wants to do with the baby since it will alter her future plans after high school. Her main concern is the moral and emotional implications she will have to face with her decision about the baby.
Strategies and Techniques
Use of humanism would be important for Jasmine because she already feels defeated. She is struggling with knowing who or what to confide in. As a counselor I would make sure that Jasmine knew that she was in a safe environment and that she did not have to worry about being judge. I would show her empathy and help her to focus on what she wanted for her self out of life. I would help her learn to motivate herself to achieve her goals.
Jasmine already possesses the resources inside herself to make the right decision based on Person-centered approach. In existential therapy the purpose is to help people discover value, meaning, and purpose in their lives (Seligman & Reichenberg, 2014). Jasmine’s problem appears to be existential. Jasmine has the responsibility and freedom to choose a worthwhile existence for herself. The choice she has to make is dictated by the values of others. Existential therapist help client their deepest fears and challenges of life. As a counselor you have to discuss and review Jasmine’s history by looking at any potential barriers that may prevent her from living a balanced and meaningful life.
As a counselor you have to have an understanding of her entire history to focus on her present. I need to have a better grasp on any potential barriers that may obstruct her ability to progress towards a balanced and meaningful life. Applying the existential goal approach will allow Jasmine to become aware of her personal freedom. This will help her to conceptualize her options and make logical choices.
Empowering Jasmine to become aware of her faulty logic will help her to he healthy, realistic and have rewarding goals. She has to be willing to overcome her anxieties by aligning her lifestyle, thoughts, and behaviors with her goals. Adler believed human beings were purposeful and goal-directed (Seligman & Reichenberg, 2014). Adler sought to help people realize that feelings of pain and inadequacy are caused not by others but by their own inability to establish appropriate goals (Seligman & Reichenberg, 2014).
As a counselor I am eager to look at Jasmine’s condition of worth by focusing on her support system. Jasmine reported her family as being very close. As the counselor I can provide Jasmine support she needs to make a decision about her life that is not dictated by others. She will be in an environment free of condition of worth. In this environment she will be safe, and it will ultimately provide her confidence to discuss her situation with her family. Along with this she will be able to assume responsibilities for her actions and create a solution for her situation. She will also build grounds to have better relationship with her family.
Evaluation of Approach
Some limitations to Jasmine case would be her age and her maturity level. Jasmine is still a child even though she is at the legal age of 18 because she is still a student. When applying my personal counseling skills, I have to remind my self of the age of Jasmine. Jasmine is dealing with a serious issue that is suitable for an adult. Ideas from the existential approach are hard for an adult to accomplish so I am sure it will take a lot of hard work dedication from Jasmine. Jasmine will have to consider her long-term goals, assume responsibility for her mistake and develop a plan for herself and the child. This will not be easy, but it will be worth it.
Some strengths I noticed with my approach are the fact that I can provide Jasmine with several options for treatment. My main strength is the therapeutic relationship I have developed with Jasmine. My approach provides Jasmine with tools needed to help her decide what she wants to do in life. It also allows her a way to plan out how her baby will fit into her life. My approach will provide Jasmine with a safe environment and guidance to help her make decisions.
The ASCA National model is used as a guide for school counselors to implement programs that enhance academic, career and personal/development (2012). According to Erford (2015) a “successful counseling experience is the development of an effective working relationship built on mutual trust and acceptance” (p.283). When dealing with teens it is important to know the level of the students to effectively implement the right program for each student.
Any time I encounter a student in a school setting I have to ensure confidentiality. Jasmine situation clearly had some red flags. The fact that Jasmine was 18 and the fatherof her child was 15 is considered statutory rape in some states. I would have to be familiar with my state laws when dealing with minors. It would be my duty as a counselor to report the case to social services. A lot of questions remain unclear when reading this case study and it would take several sessions to obtain the needed information. As a school counselor I would help Jasmine as much as possible while in school, but I feel that her case would benefit from being referred out to an individual counselor that was more equipped with skills to handle her.
- American School Counselor Association (2012). The ASCA National Model: A Framework for School Counseling Programs, Third Edition. Alexandria, VA: Author
- Brannan, L. (2015, March 12). DATA, DATA, DATA. Steps and Tools for Planning and Using Your Data. Retrieved from http://schoolcounseling.ncdpi.wikispaces.net/…/E.+Data…
- Erford, Bradley T. (2015). Transforming the school counseling profession (4th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education.
- McLeod, S. (2017). Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Retrieved from: https://www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html
- Rogers, C. R. (1957). The necessary and sufficient conditions of therapeutic personality change. Journal of consulting psychology, 21(2), 95-103
- Rogers, Carl (1979). The foundations of the person-centered approach. Retrieved from https://luonline.blackboard.com/bbcswebdav/courses/11600.201860/Person%20Centered%20Approach.%20Foundations.pdf
- Seligman, L. & Reichenberg, L.W. (2014). Theories of counseling and psychotherapy: Systems, strategies, and skills. Boston, MA: Pearson.
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