Over the past week I shared a multitude of various self help skills and concepts that can be exercised in a counseling session or by a client on their own. What was the purpose behind this?
There are people who are constantly looking for ways that they can improve themselves whether they are searching quotes, skills, exercise routines, or other tidbits of information. The purpose as a counselor or any other mental health professional is for us to help facilitate the exploration, insight, and action of a client in these various stages of development and help adaptive changes occur so that our clients lead the best lives they can have.
How do i think this can be accomplished? I think this can be accomplished by remembering that No Discounts and No Stigma play key roles in a counseling relationship. We should be working to make sure that we do not have an environment of discounting others and we should make sure that we are promoting and advocating the positives of counseling and the benefits it provides to reduce the stigma of counseling.
With these two concepts in play we can then start to develop the environment, techniques, and theories that dominate our offices, camp, mental health agency, or school setting. By making sure that we are not discounting any part of our client’s experience whether it is there race, religion, sexual orientation, or other pieces of their life and working to understand and appreciate their uniqueness we can help provide an environment based on caring, empathetic, and unconditional positive regard of our clients.
With the environment set as the foundation building rapport creates the framing of our counseling session. From this framework we continue to fill in the walls, wiring, plaster, etc. by using our counseling interventions. Sometimes the interventions provide a jumping point to insight, provide insight, provide understanding, or provide an alternative. Within the mental health profession there are certain standards like with building a house that can be taken into account. There will be reflective listening, reflections, interpretations, challenges, and summaries that help establish the “sections” of our “building codes” for counseling. These “codes” are elaborated through the practice and necessary understanding of how each technique is used.
However, just like in building a house you need to take into account the unique aspects of the “building” or for us mental health professionals: clients. Each building is unique and requires the strict attention of the individuals who are facilitating the building and all attempts should be taken to focus on the building so that as the process moves forward we are able to help pull themes and strengths out of the process.
Themes and strengths help us develop interventions that will be meaningful and beneficial for our clients. As long as we have the foundation of the therapeutic relationship, no discounts, and no stigma we create the foundation for our theories and other empirically supported treatments to surround our work through what i’m conceiving as “building codes”. Once the building codes are in place their is room for creativity and uniqueness in how the building is used. With counseling interventions this means taking the time to think about whether asking the self injurious client to draw on the area they would like to injure instead of following through with the behavior is a good idea. Discussions about ideas that come friends, the internet, books, or other media can be beneficial to helping develop unique and beneficial interventions for your client.
What is the purpose of this writing? The purpose is that a counseling intervention is only as good as the foundational steps that were taken to allow for the intervention to occur. There is room for creativity and there is room for expansion depending on what the client is willing and able to do. If the intention is positive and the framework is set in a solid foundation then the risk has been minimized and a unique and beneficial experience awaits for both you and your client.