This assignment requires you formulate and write a reflection essay that incorporates an analysis and synthesis of information that you have received from class discussion, presentations, required and independent readings, and personal experience and exposure. This essay should be a reflection on your journey to discover a personal theoretical orientation toward counseling. What does it look like? What theorist’s do you see yourself aligned with? In disagreement with? How have your personal life experiences impacted your thoughts and beliefs as they relate to counseling others?
As I reflect, on my academic and personal journey in this classroom, I can’t help but think of the first day of class. I recall the group being told by Dr. Oz, to form a circle with our chairs. Then, he promptly and stoically asked the following question, “What do you need? ” My immediate reaction was to tense up. I felt uncomfortable being asked such a personal question by a complete stranger (in front of other complete strangers). I also felt upset at myself for not being able to come up with an answer (in my head) right away. As I saw my turn to answer the question quickly approaching, I battled with how I would answer the question.
I asked myself; “Should I be completely honest, or should I give a safe and generic answer? ” I can’t remember my response to the question. In retrospect, I do not think the response mattered. I learned so much about where I was in my life from the simple question. I realized that I had become so busy and overwhelmed with work and home responsibilities that I had forgotten about myself. It was time to get reconnected for my benefit and the benefit of my future clients. I realized this when Dr. Oz stated, “As a counselor, your needs can affect your job. ” What are our needs?
The areas of needs are as follows: unfinished business, defenses, vulnerabilities, and personal conflict. At the time of the discussion about our needs, I had an “Aha! ” moment. I understood the importance of being conscious of where I was at all times in these areas. I especially needed to be aware of my growth in these areas when working as a counselor. Why is it important to know what my needs are? Because, if I do not know what my needs are and if I am not gentle with myself then I will not be able to accurately assist my clients. I do agree with Dr. Oz. , “As a counselor I can not take my clients no urther than I have been willing to go in my own way! ” In a subsequent class, we discussed the ideal characteristics of a counselor. We concluded that an effective counselor should have a comfortable sense of self, strong self worth, able to accept their own power and the power of others, flexible, authentic, sincere, honest, good sense of humor, willing to recognize and admit mistakes, living in the present, appreciative of own culture and culture of others, sincere interest in welfare of others, deeply involved in work but not consumed by it, and capable of maintaining health boundaries.
We also decided as a group that an ideal counselor should be empathetic, good listener, objective, good communicator, and reliable. I felt this was an important topic to visit prior to learning about the upcoming theories during the chapter presentations. We began the chapter presentations with Freud’s pessimistic and gloomy point of view of human behavior. He believed our behavior is a reflection of conflicts between genetically build-in drives, instincts of self-preservation, sex, and destruction. On the opposite end of the spectrum we also were introduced to Carl Roger’s person-centered therapy.
It held the belief that all humans are inherently good and that people grew positively until the environment hindered their inner development. After learning about the various theories throughout the semester I came to the conclusion that I did not side one hundred percent with any theory or theorist. However, there are some key concepts that resonate more than others. For example, I tend to side with Carl Rogers in his belief that all humans are inherently good. I support the existentialist belief that all humans are free, responsible for their own lives, and have the potential to self-actualize.
I also believe the purpose of life is not all given and must be selected by the individual through conscious acts of willfulness and responsibility. Finally, I firmly believe, no matter how close a person may feel towards another each ultimately faces life alone. I feel the therapeutic approach used in existential therapy most comfortable and ultimately most beneficial/rewarding for me. Many years ago I decided to speak to a therapist to resolve a personal issue. My first question for her was, “What therapeutic approach do you use? She explained that she used a person-center therapy approach. I felt very comfortable with her approach to counseling and found the sessions to be very successful in working towards arriving at a solution to my problem. I arrived at a point in our sessions where I felt I was able to see what I needed to do clearly and did so on my own through the guidance of the therapist. I mostly disagree with Freud’s psychoanalytical approach towards counseling. I understand and might agree that environmental events and genetic predisposition play a big role in influencing human behavior.
However, I do not agree with the belief that human behavior is mostly influenced by our sexual instincts. I also do not agree in with the importance Freud places on the roots of early development. In addition, I disagree with Freud’s belief that humans are not aware of the reasons for their actions and are influenced mostly by unconscious forces of behavior. I have taken the role of a facilitator as a current teacher. This approach has worked best when instructing my students. I feel my students learn best through being exposed to hands-on activities and given opportunities for self-discovery.
I have also found that this type of approach has worked best for me when seeking counseling. I will take the same approach with my future clients when I become a counselor one day. However, I will also be open to other methods when needed or requested. Ultimately, I believe the type of therapeutic approach used by a counselor is not as important as the counselor’s ability to possess the ideal characteristics of a counselor. In closing my goal as a counselor will be to be empathic, good listener, objective, good communicator, and reliable when working with my clients.