Introduction noted this makes it difficult for

Introduction

As a beginner Counselor, Perry (2016)
points out that the process of developing structure within the therapy
environment can be quite overwhelming. As a beginner Counselor the focus tends
to be more on what is present at the moment based on one’s own perceptions,
emotions, and/or personal thoughts, feelings, and experiences. As Perry (2016)
noted this makes it difficult for the beginner Counselor to effectively
implement the structuring skills necessary for an effective therapeutic
relationship. As I am studying, shadowing, and being mentored into a Counselor
role, I value the knowledge and development of the necessary skills to be effective.
I chose this topic to indulge more into what I value, and that is developing
the effective skills to develop the necessary therapeutic tools and knowledge
to provide clients with the desired results when my counseling assistance is
rendered.  

Counselor’s
Role

Assuming the role of a counselor should be
taken seriously and with sincerity. When counseling services are sought,
whether voluntarily or involuntarily by some sort of mandate (court or
medical), there is a level of suffering present on some level that needs to be
addressed. At this point a solution is needed for continuous healthy living
whether it be mentally, emotionally, psychologically, and/or spiritually. The
outcome achieved from counseling sessions are crucial to the client’s stability
in life to face the challenges and to overcome the obstacles that have lead
them to seek counseling. Therefore, as a counselor it cannot just be a job,
leading to routine methods, but has to be viewed humbly and unbiased to lead to
practices and skills that meet needs on an individual basis.

 

 

 

Research
Conducted

            Often times, counselors are the
first or most prevalent resource to people in need of emotional and/or psychological
support. Having a strong sense of compassion and commitment to helping clients
is a necessary quality for a counselor to be successful. Addressing client’s
concerns with quality care guide clients to make informed and healthy decisions
about their life choices. Research shows numerous qualities and characteristics
that are necessary to successful development of therapeutic relationship and
guidance to successful outcomes for clients. A few that I found to be important
are communication, interpersonal skills, diversity, and timing.

Communication and
Interpersonal Skills

            Adigwe and Okoro (2016) pointed out
that researchers and theorists within behavioral sciences and communication
discipline have shown that effective communication skills and interpersonal
competence are central to the delivery of high quality counseling and a crucial
factor in determining client satisfaction, compliance, and recovery. Additionally,
Vertino (2014) points out that communication is an important part of life, it
is needed to transmit information and knowledge to one another. As well,
effective interpersonal communication is necessary to negotiate the challenges
of everyday living, this could be either personally or professionally (Vertino,
2014). Adigwe and Okoro (2016) go a step further to note that communication
whether it be interpersonal, group, verbal, or nonverbal, “is a process of
transferring feelings, beliefs, and situations between people in a strategic
and thoughtful way to achieve the intended result.” Adigwe and Okoro’s (2016)
research showed that a close relationship between psychology and communication
is needed to improve social skills and perceptual awareness. As well, effective
communication is the key to successful client/counselor relationships. An
extended review of related literature on client/counselor relationships
strongly support a perception that productive counseling is the result of
effective utilization of excellent communication skills in an interpersonal
setting, in which is developed mostly by establishing a trusting relationship
(Adigwe & Okoro, 2016).

            Adigwe and Okoro (2016) noted and
provided thorough research on how communication and interpersonal skills are
essential in the development of effective skills. They pointed out how it has
been proven that individual communication styles guides a wide range of academic
and professional interventions, provide personal validation, and enhance
creativity in sustaining counseling-client relationships. A good example was
provided in that counseling uses all forms of communication channels and
strategies to manage and resolve situations conditions. As a result, effective
counseling skill development has to expand the knowledge base and the awareness
of the importance of interpersonal communication, along with the practice of
empathetic and active listening. The final note, effective counseling requires
the development of values of tolerance, respect for others, and healthy
self-awareness. This allows for effective communication, which develops a
deeper understanding of human situations, including a thorough understanding of
action based techniques along with strategies to promote constructive
interpersonal interactions (Adigwe & Okoro, 2016).

Diversity

As evidenced by the inclusion of diversity
training in preparation standards as a Counselor, it is a necessity in
developing effective counseling skills to be culturally competent. Diversity
knowledge is included in the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and
Related Education Programs (CACREP) of 2009 and in the ethical standards
American Counseling Association (ACA) of 2005. As according to the 2009 CACREP
standards, an institution must provide instruction that includes an
understanding of the cultural context of relationships, issues, and trends in a
multicultural society (Hall, Barden, Conley, 2014). Hays and Erford (2014)
point out that cultural validity addresses the issue of how society and
cultural background can influence the way an individual responds to and
interacts to varying situations. Hays and Erford (2014) conclude that to ensure
validity in cultural assessment, which will be used to make diagnoses, specific
cultural backgrounds and norms must be taken into consideration. As well, Hays
and Erford (2014) point out that “ignoring the importance of cultural
difference when diagnosing and assessing clients from diverse backgrounds can
lead to unfair and unethical diagnoses” (Hays & Erford, 2014).  

Arredondo, Tovar-Blank, and Parham (2008)
discussed how cultural diversity is a fact of life in the U.S. Therefore,
cultural competency is a core to the daily education, research, and practice of
professional counselors. Furthermore, the authors concluded that cultural competency
is a mandate for the counseling profession. Guindon and Sobhany (2001)
discussed the importance of cultural competencies in counseling work. They
recognized that for effective treatment to be present, skills in accurately
diagnosing clients from diverse backgrounds are essential. Additionally, it was
recognized that specific techniques addressing cultural differences to aid in
the diagnosis process are underrepresented in counseling literature. They
presented a practical conceptual framework that could be used to assist
counselors in making culturally sensitive and appropriate diagnoses in a
systematic manner. Guindon and Sobhany just as Hays and Erford, concluded that
appropriate training and a fundamental respect for clients, any mental health
professional can begin to provide culturally competent services that reflect
sensitivity to individual differences, while simultaneously assigning validity
to an individual’s group identity (Guindon & Sobhany, 2001). 

 

Timing

            Being or developing into an effective
counselor does not mean that you have all the solutions and all the perfect
ways to get to a solution. As Perry (2016) pointed out, developing into an
effective counselor is having and/or gaining the expertise to know which
questions to ask in which situation. In a study advisement (Hirt, 2012)
academic advisors were being trained on how to effectively counsel their
students. It was pointed out that knowing what questions to ask and the correct
timing to ask, allows the student to reflect on their skills and abilities and
lead them to reframe their perspective and focus on accomplishing their goals.
The same concept would be beneficial in a counseling session. Knowing what to
ask, how to ask it, and when will guide the client to be more open minded and
reflective on their issues, leading to strategy development for accomplishing
the set goals or acquired outcomes of relief.

Advocacy
for Clients and Self-Advocacy

            As according to studies and research
conducted, (Fickling, 2016), advocacy with and on behalf of clients is a major
way in which counselors fulfill their core professional value of promoting
social justice. Counselors should possess a unique skill when it relates to
social justice due to the economic and social nature of their work, as well as
offering useful insights. One factor considered is that of focusing on clients,
which emphasizes the importance of empowering individual clients and teaching
self-advocacy. Another major factor, is the focus on multiple roles,
emphasizing the variety of skills and interventions counselors use in their
work to promote advocacy (Fickling, 2016).

            As well, a counselor must attempt to
facilitate a client to solve their own problems, while at the same time
demonstrating a genuine concern and compassion for the client’s dilemmas. The
counselor must individualize interaction depending on the client’s personality
type. The counselor should encourage the
client to ultimately draw their own conclusions and choose the direction they
want to take in resolving the issue. Also, the counselor may challenge the
client to develop a behavioral goal to address the overall objective. The
counselor may need to engage the client to determine how confident they feel in
achieving the particular goal. At this point, the client can assess the achievability
based on their perceived benefit of the behavior and on their confidence of
successfully achieving the behavior. However, goals may need to be adjusted
accordingly. Ultimately creativity has to be utilized to reach the desired
goals of advocacy for the client and self-advocacy.

Evidence-Based Practice

            Research has shown that there are a
number of very stable trends that support the usefulness of some practices
and/or skills of counseling over others, the different value of some aspects of
counseling of others, and effectiveness of matching certain client problems
with specific counseling models. These factors guide counseling practices and
development of effective counseling skills, as well as form the basis of an
evidence-based model of counseling. In most instances, counseling is effective
and there is no best theoretical approach. The outcome that has been reached
through continuous research is that theoretical orientation is not a major
factor in the outcome in counseling. Instead, the research shows that there are
a set of common skills that are a part of effective counseling regardless of
the theory. These include, supportive value of collaborative counseling
relationship, the value of learning of the counselor (through experience,
corrective emotional experiences, and skills acquisition), and action of the
counselor (gained by behavior change, successful experiences, behavioral
regulation, and mastery) (Sexton, 2001). 

            While theoretical models do not necessarily
have a huge significance to positive outcomes, evidence-based counseling
intervention are vastly effective with the client problems they are developed
to help. Evidence-based practice has the opportunity to develop the profession
of counseling from its theoretical box and historical beliefs and move towards
an era where counselors use the best of available science combined with
clinical experience to effectively assist a variety of clients. Evidence-based
practices has the potential to provide resources for counselors of clinical
knowledge that can increase a counselor’s effectives with clients, become a
basis of professional education and counselor development, and be a unifying
force for counseling to evolve to the next level of excellence.

Ethical
Considerations, Limitation, or Dilemmas

            The American Counseling Association
Code of Ethics requires counselors to recognize the need for continuing
education to acquire and maintain a reasonable level of awareness of current
scientific and professional information in their field of work. Additionally,
counselors must take necessary steps to maintain competence in the skills the utilized,
remain open to new procedures, and keep current with their diverse populations
and specific populations with whom they service. Furthermore, counselors will
encounter situations that are ethically challenging. However, in such
situations it may become tempting to digress from what the counselor knows to
be ethically correct as it may appear to be an easier solution to resolve the challenge
at hand or overcome barriers within the counseling environment. There is not a
statement of ethics that can totally alleviate these difficult situations from
arising and facing the challenge of making an ethical professional judgment in
an environment that is constantly changing and full of uncertainties. However,
counselors should commit themselves to engaging with the challenge of striving
to be ethical, even when doing so involves making difficult decisions or acting
courageously. Counselors can do so by taking and valuing the importance of
ethical responsibilities and adopting characteristics and developing skills
that allow them to consider all the relevant circumstances with as much care as
is reasonably possible and to be appropriately accountable for their decisions.
Such skills include, being trustworthy, respectful, promote client well-being, commit
to avoiding any type harm to the client whether it be physically and/or
emotionally, empathy, sincerity, resilient, competent, unbiased, knowledgeable,
and displaying self-respect. Ultimately the goal as a developing counselor
should be to have solid, good moral qualities that guide all decisions, leading
to effective ethical practices.

Conclusion

            Developing into an effective
counselor is not just another profession where you get your degree and then you
have all the knowledge needed to provide a quality service to clients.
Counseling is a complex process that requires continuous openness to gaining
new effective knowledge to provide clients with the most effective and
efficient service to improve their life situations. As a developing counselor
it is my aim to have that openness and start out with the skills needed to
provide this type of service to the clients I will encounter.