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Counseling Theories

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Mental health counseling serves to help people who have mental health disorders that makes people think, act and behave differently from people with normal mental health. Mental disorders disrupt the whole life of a person and prevent them from going about their daily activities. Mental health counseling helps people with mental problems and disorders regain their normal lives or reduce the impact of mental disorders and help them perform their daily activities with ease.

My work environment will be an institutional setting. I am going to work in a school environment that has kindergarten children up to university students. My purpose in this working environment will involve helping students with educational problems and other personal problems that interferes with their normal learning concentration and performance while in school and other problems that they may encounter while at home that has a relation with their study lives, whether directly or indirectly.

My role in the school environment will involve identifying those problems and offering the necessary assistance to students and involve the school and university administration and other stakeholders whose attention might be required. My role will also include making referrals to psychiatrists, psychologists and doctors where students need more help. I will carry out personality tests, psychological tests or aptitude test to determine specific needs and assistance that patients might require and offer help or make proper referrals (Palmo, Weikel, & Borsos, 2006).

Initially I have worked in private practice where I counseled as a private mental health counselor working in a private office. I used to get clients especially from private mental hospitals, schools, residential care facilities, correctional institutions and from parents and relatives who would seek my help for towards their people who had mental problems and disorders. There, I got a wide variety of patients ranging from children, teenagers, youth and adults some with anxiety problems, drug abuse, suicidal impulses, educational decisions, and issues related to aging among many more issues.   The institutional environment I am going to work in and the work environments that I have worked in previously have a relationship. The practices I will use in the current setting and the practices I used in the previous setting relate to a certain extent.

Both environments require that I carry out tests to ascertain the kind of mental health problems that a client has and the needs and assistance they require. Both of the environments require that I carry out aptitude, personality and psychology tests where depending on necessity. Both of the environments call for professionalism in the sense that clients must be treated with utmost confidentiality. As a counselor, I have to develop trust between the client and I so that we can establish a rapport that can help the client open up, and help me form appropriate assistance programs that may include referrals. The environments have a relationship in the sense that the work code of ethics and conduct must exist as a matter of utmost importance.

In the working environment, I am likely to have clients with anxiety problems, drug and substance abuse related issues; self-esteem issues, stress management issues, educational and career choice issues, personality disorders, such as antisocial and avoidant personality disorders, phobias and obsessive-compulsive disorders among others. My clients will vary in terms of age because I will deal with children from kindergarten through high school to university students. This presents a wide range of problems and assistance requirements.

Certain theories that influence mental health counseling exist. Existential theory serves as a mental health counseling theory that that addresses the current states of affairs as they exist and the inability of identifying a single theory based on widespread belief that one theory cannot address the needs of a diverse clientele served by mental health counselors.  Existential theory has the assumption that human beings have the capability to transcend to meaninglessness. It supports humanistic psychology. It assumes that human beings exist, have responsibility for their existence and have consciousness.

Existentialism assumes that counseling should exist as an interpersonal experience. Existential theory tries to understand human beings in context of freedom, death, isolation and meaninglessness. It states that no matter how people get close to each other, a certain form of separateness exists that people cannot eliminate. It assumes that people live with an awareness of non-existence of pre-determined direction or prescription of the direction of life. It tries to understand human beings in relation to their environment.

All these assumptions integrate with my personal philosophy and values because almost all psychological problems originate from the immediate environment where a client lives. Therefore, for the counselor to offer appropriate assistance, he must understand the client from his environment point of view, to understand the origin and cause of the problem.

Another theory for mental health counseling involves person-centered therapy. Person-centered therapy assumes that the client has the expertise on his or her own thoughts, emotions, feelings and experiences. The clients know themselves best, with the help of counselors they can help themselves change grow, and attain their goals. The theory has cognizance on three significant aspects that include empathy, unconditional positive regard and congruence. Empathy suggests that the counselor should empathize with the client and see things from the perspective of the client. This helps the clients clarify their thoughts and feelings.

With regard to unconditional positive regard, the counselor should provide an environment that allows free and safe communication o go on where the client communicates his feelings and thoughts without fear of judgment or inadequate response. The counselor must make the client feel secure and free to express their thoughts and feelings with assurance of acceptance in their present condition. Congruence requires the counselor to be free and transparent with the client and remove their professional outfit. The counselor and the client become equal partners in the communication process determined by openness, transparency, genuineness and trust.

All these assumptions integrate with my personal philosophy and values because I believe that for a counseling procedure and program to achieve effectiveness, the counselor and the client must trust each other. The client must offer information so that appropriate assistance can be provided. For that to happen the counselor, must ensure that the client trusts him and feels free and secure to talk to him.

In dealing with my clients in the school environment, the two theories have significance. As a counselor, I have to use existential theory to understand the client and the cause of the problem they have from their environments. In that perspective, counseling will happen as an interpersonal process. As a counselor, I will use person-centered therapy to establish trust with the client which will enable us discuss freely and develop an intervention program based on congruence, empathy and unconditional positive regard.

These theories can work in different counseling settings and with clients of different cultural backgrounds because they require an understanding of the client from their point of view, without judgment, and with an understanding of their environment. They call for an interpersonal counseling technique that does not impose a type of intervention, but require development of intervention program from understanding the perspective and problem of the client.  These theories pose certain cultural issues. Both of them restrict the counselor from making assumptions even when the condition of the client appears clear.

The person-centered approach does not allow the counselor to use professionalism but requires him to understand issues from the perspective of the client. Although they have good assumptions, they have a static nature that should not exist in counseling. Existential theory postulates that the counselor must understand the client and has environment while person-centered therapy requires the counselor to agree with the client based on the latter perspective.

My personal philosophy, beliefs and values can bias me towards particular theories in the sense that my counseling technique must follow my philosophy and values. It would be difficult for me to use a theory that does not agree with my philosophy even though it could have a positive significance.

Existential theory and person-centered therapy have effectiveness when working with specific client populations with mental and emotional disorders. Existential theory has effectiveness because it requires a counselor to take the process as an interpersonal procedure that requires the cooperation of both parties. It requires that the counselor understands the client from his immediate environment and put him as the basis of an intervention measure. The counselor helps the client towards recognizing themselves and healing as opposed to prescribing an intervention procedure. Person-centered approach has effectiveness in the sense that it requires the counselor to understand the client in his or her own perspective.

This helps because the counselor does not compare the client with another one with the same problem, but understands a client as unique and with specific problem. With the help of empathy and congruence, the counselor then creates an intervention program suitable for specific clients who have mental and emotional disorders. The counselor uses the information provided by the client himself to come up with a help program. The counselor does not categorize but facilitates and develops an environment that promotes self-awareness of the client and helps them reach their goals individually.

In conclusion, mental health counseling provides a significant field for people to solve mental problems and disorders in a remarkable manner. It goes beyond setting goals for people with diagnosable disorders. It requires the use of multiple theoretical frameworks to understand and help clients.

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