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I prepared a counseling practice session with a partner in accordance with the requirements of COUN2061: Counseling Theories 2. Helena consented to participate after I introduced myself to some people, informed them of my assignment criteria, and asked them to join in a counseling role play. I encouraged the client to discuss actual difficulties that were neither too long nor too distressing. We later decided on the roleplay's date, location, and time. I pledged the client of confidentiality at the start of the session unless she disclosed information that proved to be dangerous to herself or others. Additionally, as the counselor, I confirmed the client that her consent was necessary for every facet of the therapy session, including the usage of counseling material and information. During counseling, the client admitted of suffering from depression. She claimed that her days are characterized by low energy levels, hopelessness, and sadness. While using scaling questions, I asked her to rate the common feeling throughout the week. She ranked her feelings at three meaning that there is no joy or pleasure in her life. Although at first, she claimed she did not understand why she felt depressed, my skillful integration of general counseling skills and Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) helped the client reveals that her job was the primary cause of her misery. Notably, she worked in a warehouse with little or no interaction with others, yet she longed to make travel widely and make new friends. Surprisingly, Helena felt that she was not progressing in her career and thus desired to study and steer towards her dream job of being a flight attendant. By the end of the 25-minute counseling session, Helena and I established that she needed to join aviation classes, engage in sports, socialize, and meditate. Overall, the meeting was successful since the client and counselor found rapport, identified the problems and possible intervention strategies, and planned for next session.
Chosen Method Of Counseling
Given the scope of Helena’s situation and the limited time of the session, I decided to use the Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) method of counseling. Notably, the Solution Focused Therapy approach is a counseling strategy inclined towards establishing answers for specific problems. According to De Shazer and Dolan (2012), the SFBT counseling method differs from other traditional types of therapy in that it does not analyze clients’ challenges, pathology, and life events but focuses on establishing contemporary solutions by exploring current situation and resources. In other words, despite acknowledging contemporary problems and past causal factors, the Solution-Focused Brief Therapy focuses on helping the client maximize on personal strengths and available resources to achieve their goals. As the name suggests, Solution-Focused Brief Therapy is most appropriate when the counselor and the client have limited time. For instance, my session with Helena was only 25 minutes long. Nonetheless, despite its compatibility with limited time, the counselor and client can incorporate SFBT with diverse long-term therapy forms that have long-lasting impacts. The counseling model dates back to 1980s when Steve de Shazer and his wife Insoo Kim Berg and their team introduced it at Brief Family Center (De Shazer and Dolan, 2012). At its conception, the model had seven primary principles and assumptions: change is steady and sure; focus on what is changeable and achievable; clients must desire change; clients are capable of establishing and steering towards their goals; they have the resources and the strengths to triumph over their challenges; therapy sessions are short, and emphasis on history or future is not important ( Bor,& Watts, 2016).
Aims And Objectives Of The Session
The primary aim of having a counseling session with Helena was to help her establish the reasons for her depression. Notably, the client has been experiencing sadness and hopelessness and considers her days unproductive. Given that Helena did not at first know the exact cause of her depression, the objective was not to identify the cause but also a roadmap on how she would increase her levels of happiness from a 3 to a value closer to 10. During the session, Helena admitted that her career was the primary cause of depression since she was neither progressing nor making new friends. Consequently, the meeting aimed to streamline the techniques that could help the client deal with depression. Overall, the aim of the counseling session was to help the client in goal setting, identify personal strengths and resources important in achieving these goals and propose possible solutions to the clients’ contemporary life problems.
Identification Of The Skills Used And A Brief Explanation
To adequately help the client overcome her depression, I used a wide array of techniques. Nonetheless, the most prominent were general counseling techniques and the principles inherent in Solution-Focused Brief Therapy. I learned some of these methods during my education and acquired others during from different facets of my life experience. Nonetheless, general counseling techniques proved to be dominant during my counseling session with Helena. Overall, these skills helped me to initiate, nurture, and sustain a professional yet relaxed relationship with the client (Gable & Herrmann, 2015). More specifically, I used the following general counseling skills: Empathy, Listening, social and communication, critical thinking, engagement among other techniques.
There are numerous reasons why I chose to use these techniques in the counseling session with Helena. Some of these skills serve a single purpose while others serve multiple and sometimes overlapping goals (Budd et al., 2017). For starters, I chose to show empathy to be able to comprehend and identify with Helena’s life experiences. Undoubtedly, by emphasizing with Helena, I was able to understand her choices and feelings since I was emotionally attuned to her personal needs.
Apart from empathy, I used social and communication techniques. Given that Helena had never been in a therapy session before, and the fact that she did not know me well, using great social and communication skills helped us to get through the first session successfully. Admittedly, great social and communication skills helped establish rapport and make the client comfortable. With time, because of showing confidence and assertiveness, Helena and I developed a healthy therapeutic relationship. Imperative social and communication skills were evident through complimenting the client on her strengths, seeking clarifications, enhancing congruence through genuine feedback, and encouraging the client to address the causes of her depression.
Boundary setting technique proved to be beneficial in my counseling session with the client. Naturally, I ensured to establish and maintain healthy boundaries with Helena by avoiding dual relationships, especially sexual or romantic. Undoubtedly, this skill nurtured ethical behavior and ensured the success of the session.
Finally, I used strong critical thinking skills during the therapy session to make a diagnosis and create treatment plans. Notably, I was able to skillfully integrate scaling and miracle questions to establish he major causes of Helena’s depression as well as the most appropriate treatment intervention. Naturally, critical thinking skills are imperative in any counseling session since they help the counselor identify multiple backup plans for treatment and access their likelihood of success.
Effectiveness In Application Of Skills
While there are some areas that need improvement, my ability to effectively implement counseling techniques in practice was above average. In the opening phase, popular as relationship building stage, I engaged the client by introducing myself with my names, titles, and position. More specifically, I engaged in self-disclosure by identifying myself as Zhaun Bradford, stated my student number, and the course pertinent to this counseling session. In this relationship building phase, I skillfully used social and communication skills to ensure that Helena and I developed a healthy therapeutic relationship. I guaranteed to set the boundaries by telling the client that although the session was confidential, I would act professionally by reporting any information that could pose a danger to self or unto others. To break the ice, I commended Helena for finding the venue promptly unlike most people. I said, “I am glad you found it easily.”Throughout the session, I showed empathy by trying to understand Helena’s feelings and opinion. For instance, when Helena says she feels depressed but do not know the causal factors. I empathized with her by stating that “its normal to feel that way. However, we will work towards establishing the actual reasons.” I showed the client that I understood that depression could confuse. Further, I was able to apply my communication skills in the session effectively. Notably, I listened to the client keenly, nodded my head slightly to show affirmation, and sought clarification to make sure that I understood the situation correctly. For instance, when the client admitted to having depression, I showed affirmation and then sought for clarification. “Okey, you think you have depression? Why is this? Throughout the counseling session, I expertly applied critical thinking skills deducing information from the client’s comments. For instance, I deduced that socializing was important to Helena yet her individualistic job hindered her from interacting with others thus lowering job satisfaction levels and causing depression. In an application of my critical thinking skills, I suggested that besides participating in sports, Helena should also embrace meditation as a treatment strategy.
Suggestions For Improvement
Although the counseling session was seamless, there are some areas that I need to improve. Admittedly, I think I did great with my micro skills, which include self-disclosure, reflection, client observation, paraphrasing, and encouragers. Nonetheless, I need to improve on some elements. Firstly, in tandem with Solution-Focused Brief Therapy, I could have focused on the clients’ resources and strengths to combat challenges. More specifically, I could have asked Helena, “what people are in your support circle that you feel will help you overcome depression.” Notably, social networks play a critical role in counseling and wellbeing. People who have supportive family members and friends recover quickly. Secondly, I need to refine my communication skills to ensure that I do not often interrupt the client.
Evaluation of overall effectiveness
To restate, the primary purpose of this exercise was to apply Solution-Focused Based Therapy (SFBT) method of counseling. Looking back, the session between Helena and me was relatively successful. In tandem with the principles of SFBT, I focused on solution building rather than solving the client’s problems. More specifically, by applying the scaling and miracle questions, I leaned that Helena was profoundly depressed due to the nature of her work. I was able to use diverse techniques such empathy, critical thinking, and social and communication skills that significantly contributed to the success of the session. Notably, in collaboration with the client, we established appropriate treatment programs including sports and meditation. However, I need to improve on focusing on the individual's resources while exploring a solution. Although I focused on the client’s future hopes, I failed to ask what resources she had since she wanted to join a school. Also, I should have asked who was in her support circle. Nonetheless, the counseling session was successful.
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