A PERSONAL APPROACH TO COUNSELING USING A SHORT STORY
A Personal Approach to Counseling Using a Short Story
Being a counselor and working with people, things are not always as easy as they seem to be. People are not as simple as they seem. In one minute they are happy, then sad the next moment. This complexity of the human person made me realize that one form of solution will never be enough in achieving goals and self-actualization. And so, as a therapist, I created my personal style in counseling based on my personal theoretical orientation. Over the weekend, while working on the second half of this paper, I had a close childhood friend of mine commit suicide. Growing up, she dealt with many personal issues that, I believe ultimately lead to her lifelong depression. I write this paper as a tribute to her and although I won’t explore all of her personal issues or use her real name, it will be loosely based on her story. In first person, as a school counselor, I will work with a middle school aged child, in a fictional short story, exploring my personal counseling technique. It was a bright afternoon and I was drinking coffee while reviewing student’s files at the guidance office. Suddenly, one of the teachers of the school came in and asked permission about conducting counseling on a student found smoking marijuana near the janitor’s quarters. After a few minutes, a girl stepped in. She was a short person with dark make-up and many piercings on her face. As I looked at her, I saw emptiness inside of her. I knew I had to find out the cause of her behavior.
I asked her to sit down. She seemed cooperative and calm as she sat. She asked me if she was going to be expelled from school. I said that she would be. However, I also told her that such would not happen if she would cooperate with me and share what is going on with her life. With a calm voice, I assured her that everything she would say would be strictly confidential. A counselor should not be seen as a person of authority. Rather, a counselor should be perceived as a friend whom clients can trust with their emotions. Being such a counselor, I sat in front of her and asked her name. Her name was Jenny. In return, I also said my name and told her that from that point on, I would be her friend.
As a counselor, I believe that clients do not need people who will boss them around and tell them that what they did wrong or right. My perception of counseling is based on the concept of Carl Rogers called 'client-centered' counseling. I asked her if she was doing well and she told me that she was okay. I found out that she was a very intelligent young lady; I would venture to say that had she applied herself, she would have been in the schools “gifted” programs. So, I asked her some questions about her life and the big things that happened to her recently. “Just the usual stuff. Nothing really interesting… my mom recently resurfaced after five (5) years, so we have been hanging out a little.” She said. I replied, “That must have been good to revisit with her.” “Yah, it’s ok, maybe she will stay clean this time!” she said in a frail voice.
The client-centered approach or personal approach is important in counseling in order to establish a working relationship between the therapist and the client. During that time, I considered myself as Jenny’s friend. I wanted her to feel that she is in an environment where she is not judged. Through this approach, I was able to let her feel that she was given an unconditional positive regard. I then, began to explore the issue of her mother by asking her what it made her feel. She shared to me how angry she was with what happened. Knowing the seriousness of her situation, it was important for me to show as much genuineness as I could in order for her to feel that she is accepted and emphatically understood. I started the session by directly addressing the behaviors that were observable in Jenny. She was reported to have been...
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