Example Of The Variability Of Helping In A Range Of Counseling Settings Essay
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In any given context, people always find themselves in need of a helping hand or any kind word that would provide guidance and wisdom, for them to discern the best actions that would lead them to their goals. Counseling is one act of “helping an individual overcome barriers and maximize growth” (Hess, Magnuson, & Beeler, 2015, p.9). This is not an easy thing to do, since there is a dire need for the counselor to help the individual increase in their adaptive functioning, so that the person may learn how to survive challenges. The act of counseling is actually a “helping process” for individuals who needed support, care and guidance, for them to address effectively the developmental and situational difficulties. However, not everything that is being said or done, in the act of counseling, is beneficial. For counseling to be effective to the client, the counselor should have the ability to empower the individual, the family, or the group into accomplishing wellness and mental health. This is according to the American Counseling Association, which defined counseling as a professional relationship centered on helping the client with their careers and/or education.
This paper focuses on the variability of the act of “helping”, which may be applied in a range of counseling settings—from business to health to education. The purpose is to prove the complexity of counseling, as the counselor needs to build rapport relationship with the client, for the latter to overcome barriers and increase the adaptive functioning. To prove this, there will be a range of topics that shall be presented, focusing on the skills that would entail a counselor to effectively guide and nurture the client. It will also focus on the three conditions for altruistic helping, and the theory of the self vs other identities. In the end, it will be evident that there is a shade of variability in the act of helping, and it is based on the context or the setting to which the act of helping is being set. Unlike the others, helping in the act of counseling should center on noble, altruistic intentions of an empathic counselor.
Genuineness—the core of counseling
Genuineness was said to be the main core of counseling. Cochran and
Cochran (2015) had quoted how Rogers (1957) had taken into consideration the importance of this element, which is the same as the words “realness” and “congruence” (p.118). According to Rogers, as quoted by Cochran and Cochran (2015), the element of genuineness carries the final answer on whether counseling will help the person. As Rogers stated,
The more the therapist is himself or herself in the relationship, putting up no professional front or personal façade, the greater is the likelihood that the client will change and grow in a constructive manner. (Cochran & Cochran, 2015, p.115)
With this, it is evident that in the element of genuineness, there is a process of exploration between the counselor and the client, to reflect over the events and what seemed to be vital over the course of events. A communication of experiences will relay the important things that should be analyzed and reflected over, while sharing empathy and a state of connectivity between counselor and client. In counseling, it is vital to say and express the right things, and this cannot take place without the element of genuineness. In doing this, counselors should make sure that what is being expressed are the things that are genuine or real, and what is not taking place should not be revealed or expressed. This reflects transparency, which is vital when sharing experiences in a counseling session.
The role of empathy and the conditional loop
In a counseling session, the client should not experience a notion of holding back anything that he or she should express to the counselor. For this to take place, there should not be a façade when dealing with the clients—not anything that would cover the real personality and intentions of the counselor. Instead, there should be authenticity taking place, to genuinely reveal who they truly are. This is very vital, especially that there are usually clients who withhold themselves and their true feelings or identity, making them relationship-resistant, which is against the foundation of counseling. As one client expressed,
I am unlovable and no one can understand me I can’t bear the possibility of abandonment I have previously experienced in relationship so, to protect myself from further hurt, I must act out to drive others away. (Cochran & Cochran, 2015, p.121)
With this taking place, empathy is the element that can make them accept and live life through active social relationships, as it integrates therapeutic listening and communication with the client. This takes place when there is a spirit of unanimity taking place between the counselor and the client. Cochran and Cochran (2015) quoted the words of Bozarth when they stated that “the more a therapist is able to be aware of her own experiences, the more that therapist will be able to be aware of her client’s experience” (p.121).
At the same time, if therapists are more aware of the client’s experience, then the more the former will be aware of their own experience. This is called the “conditions loop” that Bozarth presented in 1998 (Cochran & Cochran, 2015, p.121), and this is the tendency of the course of events when empathy is shared between the therapist and the client. Without the “conditions loop” taking place over the course of events, the act of helping will not lead to beneficial, appropriate results. This is because of the fact that there is no natural awareness taking place between therapist and client, and no empathy shared between them.
The role of unconditional positive regard
The element of self-awareness is so vital in counseling that it acts as one of the cores of altruistic intention and motivation. It is through self-awareness that both the counselor and the client experiences a sense of renewal through therapeutic listening and empathic relationship or interaction. This is reflected in the words of Virginia Satir in 1987 when she found her true self over a course of events that brought challenges to her (France & Rodriguez, 2013, p.10). France and Rodriguez (2013) had quoted the words of Satir (1987):
When I am in touch with myself, my feelings, my thoughts, with what I see and hear, I am growing toward becoming a more integrated self. I am more congruent, I am more “whole”, and I am able to make greater contact with the other person. (France & Rodriguez, 2013, p.10)
This reflects the importance of self-awareness in having unconditional positive regard with oneself and with the events that take place. In this light, it is through openness that people are able to accept themselves in a much comfortable manner, and there is no fear or defense that comes along, especially on the counselor, who should be receptive to the client. With unconditional positive regard, counselors are able to connect themselves internally to their clients, which draws the act of helping, making counseling more effective.
Cochran and Cochran (2015, p.122) reiterated the words of Kolden et al. (2011) when they stated that, genuineness should reflect attachment or bonding, for it is through this that the client is able to explain thoughts and sentiments, as well as opinions and beliefs. It is an open, two-way communication between the counselor and the client, creating personal connection with the use of unconditional positive regard. With a two-way connection, both the counselor and the client can work on improving the case of the client, to make the latter feel more at ease, so that they may be more congruent and receptive. It can likewise heighten a person’s self-esteem, while providing empathy and altruistic motivation to the client.
Three conditions in testing altruistic helping
In the theory of counseling, there is the hypothesis that helping takes place when there is a “shared personal identity” (Maner et al., 2002, p.1601), which is also referred to as “oneness”. However, in the empathy-altruistic hypothesis, the theory of oneness can go against the course of altruistic motivation, merely because the “self” and the other identity is being regarded as one, and helping the other would only mean helping oneself. For pure altruism to take place therefore, the “self” and the other identity should be perceived as separate entities, so that helping the other would not lead to a benefit to oneself. Maner et al. (2002) quoted the words of Cialdini et al. when they mentioned that “aiding someone with whom one feels a sense of merged identity cannot be viewed as wholly selfless” (p.1602). Helping in a state of “oneness” would only mean helping oneself, and this is very far from the true and appropriate intentions of a counselor implementing empathy and altruism.
For altruistic motivation to take place, Maner et al. (2002) suggested three conditions that could be done to rule out the non-altruistic accounts from the altruistic ones. First is to discern a set of relevant non-altruistic motives. Second is to measure these motives reliably and validly. Third and final is to assess the relationship between empathy and helping, while monitoring the non-altruistic motivations (Maner et al., 2002, p.1602). Another way is to implement the version of Batson, in which he stated that the conditions should rely on a “self-other overlap” that should elicit and manipulate genuine empathic concern. For Batson, the way is to use a uniform helping measure in extracting the non-altruistic motives from the pure altruistic ones. From all these, it seemed that the conditions of helping should take into account the perspective of the person helping, as well as the state of oneness in the “self-other” relationship, not to mention the potential mediators like concern, sadness, and distress. All these reflect the real intentions of the person helping, which insist on whether the act was done for the sake of pure altruism, or if it was the effect of non-altruistic motivation.
When helping is useful and effective
There are a number of skills and techniques that are implemented, for a counselor to initiate successful therapeutic counseling to the client. One of these is the use of genuine personal problems, which makes use of a current, real problem that is taking place in the life of the counselor. However, a number of counselors suggest that in using genuine personal problems in connecting with their clients, they usually worry about the vulnerability that they experience during self-disclosure. Others believe that the client may not accept them if the latter discloses problems to the client. However, self-disclosure is vital in counseling, mainly because of the advantages it brings in making sure the therapist’s problems were resolved and owned, making them willing to address other people’s problems. In counseling, the act of helping becomes possible only when the counselor has no fear or anxiety with what they are going through. They should not be afraid or distressed with their lives, so that they can use these cases in relaying their messages to the client, whom they wished to help.
As Geldard and Geldard (2008) insisted, “Real problems make it easier for the trainee counselor to recognize client feelings” (p.37). To make sure the counselor relieves the emotion of the client, the former should be genuine, not just in creating a relationship with the client, but in dealing with the feelings and experiences portrayed in the real setting. This is effective and useful during a counseling session, with the counselor listening avidly to the client, and observing signs that show the genuine notions of the client. Counselors should not judge the client personally, and should not depress them, mainly because their role is to listen authentically to the words of the client. They should observe the client as well, as there may be some signs in the facial expression and/or gestures, which signify the true emotion of the client, in reaction to something that the counselor may have said. During a counseling session, helping is engaging the client to reach out and reveal the inner self, which is the element needed for personal connection to take place between the counselor and the client.
When helping is not useful nor effective
There may also be times when counselors say or do something that they thought would help the client, but the opposite takes place and the client only becomes more depressed and secretive. One of these, on the side of the counselor, is the method of saying orally that their act of helping is genuine. As Cochran and Cochran (2015) stated in their book, “Your genuineness is not something you can express in a statement” (p.124). There may be genuineness and congruity on the side of the counselor, but there is no special need to reveal conspicuously that they have genuine concern towards the client. In the course of helping during a counseling session, empathy and genuineness will just flow and be reflected in the counselor’s words and actions. They will be consistent in gestures and words, so that saying orally to the client about the counselor’s genuineness may only lead to the former feeling sorry about themselves or be defensive. They may even doubt the words of the counselor, as there is the notion that when something is being said, the opposite takes place in the real setting. Thus, when the counselor says that the act is genuine, there is possibility for the client to doubt on whether the act is truly genuine, and would rather believe the reverse.
Personal reflection and expressions of empathy or genuineness, are meant to express a feeling of understanding, which should enhance the relationship between the counselor and the client. For this, the act of helping becomes more prevalent when there are expressions that reveal who they are really are and how they see life, especially on the side of the counselor. There is more help when there is honesty in the words and expressions of the counselor, while taking into account that their beliefs and sentiments may be different from those of the client. For a counselor, helping is not just relaying the things that would support the client over the challenges that are being faced. Instead, helping is understanding both themselves and the client, which are seemingly different in many perspectives, separated by the fact that people have their own choices over their emotions, beliefs, and sentiments.
Three conditions for therapeutic personality change
In the course of helping, Rogers (1992) mentioned six conditions that are vital to produce therapeutic personality change during counseling. These six psychological conditions are important when trying to implement a constructive personality change, such as in the case of counseling. A constructive personality change takes place when there is integration both in the surface and the deeper levels, to the point that there is less internal conflict for a more effective living. What should be regarded as immature are being transformed to mature behaviors, and for this type of change to occur, there should be six conditions that should take place between the counselor and the client. These set of conditions are necessary and sufficient, and they are vital during therapeutic sessions.
According to Rogers (1992), the six conditions necessary to initiate therapeutic personality change should transpire. First, there should be psychological contact between the counselor and the client. Second, the client should be in a state of incongruence, while being vulnerable and anxious. Third, the therapist should be congruent or integrated. Fourth, the therapist should have unconditional positive regard for the client. Fifth, the therapist should have empathic understanding towards the client’s “internal frame of reference” (Rogers, 1992, p.828), which the therapist should express to the client. Finally, there should be communication between the therapist and the client, with the former expressing empathic understanding and unconditional positive regard to the latter (Rogers, 1992, p.828). These six conditions are necessary and are sufficient, for constructive personality change to take place in the perspective of the client. These six are enough to form minimal relationship and psychological contact between the therapist and the client, which are vital for internal transformation to take place within the client. This is because, personality change only occurs during a relationship, as Rogers (1992, p.828) insisted; and it is in this case that helping becomes useful and effective, wherever the counseling setting may transpire.
For many counselors, the heart of a therapeutic session is centered on the degree in which the counselor is able to empower the spirit of the client. As Virginia Satir (1987) stated, “therapist and patient must inevitably impact each other as human beings” (p.19). Having a more empowered spirit, the client develops a healthy sense of the self—revealing themselves as more “whole”, with an integrated self that build connection to other people. In the different settings that reflect the variability of the act of helping, it seemed to suggest that the core of counseling focuses on the need to empathize and listen to others. By accepting others as they are, there is strong energy in the spirit that endows them to live life as it is.
Cochran, J.L., & Cochran, N.H. (2015). The heart of counseling: counseling skills through therapeutic relationships (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.
France, H., & Rodriguez, C. (2013). “Good verses “right”: awareness of self in counseling training. Satir Journal of Counselling and Family Therapy, 1(1), 10-17.
Geldard, K., & Geldard, D. (2008). Personal counseling skills: an integrative approach. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas Publisher, Ltd.
Hess, R., Magnuson, S., & Beeler, L. (2015). Chapter 1: What is so special about counseling in the schools? Counseling children and adolescents in schools. Irvine, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.
Maner, J.K., Luce, C.L., Neuberg, S.L., Cialdini, R.B., Brown, S., & Sagarin, B.J. (2002). The effects of perspective taking on motivations for helping: still no evidence for altruism. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 28(11), 1601-1610.
Rogers, C.R. (1992). The necessary and sufficient conditions of therapeutic personality. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 60(6), 827-832.
Satir, V. (1987). The therapist story. In M. Baldwin & V. Satir’s (Eds.), The use of self in therapy (pp.17-25). New York, NY: Haworth Press.
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