This book was written for you and your career. It will enhance your gratification with your career through discovering and validating your skills and through offering professional development not offered elsewhere. Written by an experienced social worker with a sense of humor, the author presents thought-provoking concepts and illustrations of topics not usually discussed. Tracing our individual development that led us to this field, addressing nontherapeutic cultural norms, strategies for recognizing and counseling con artists, and options for diversifying your career as retirement options are all discussed. Lots of original ideas, tools, and adaptions of tools are included in formats that you can readily use. Come join the journey.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.58(d)|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
The Making of a Counselor
You have survived your first experiences in the field, or you have been in the field for many years. You may have found, as I did, that much of the literature does not address your level of experience nor address your career choices. I have written this book to address these issues. I will offer some thoughts, concepts, and resources that may be useful in your professional development at your level of experience.
First of all, let me give you my philosophy. It is based on the famous statement of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism.
"Do all the good you can,
By all the means that you can,
In all the ways that you can,
In all the places that you can,
At all the times that you can,
To all the people that you can,
As long as you can."
And as such, this translates into good clinical practice.
Let's start with two inter-related concepts: your rationale for being in this field and your spirituality.
Think Piece: I invite you to write your rationale for being in this field. This is only for your eyes, so be honest with yourself. We will come back to this later. You may have more than one reason.
You have probably realized by now, you (and I) are a little bit nuts for being in this field. You have discovered, if you applied these same skills and your self-directedness to the business world, you would earn a lot more money, and probably without as much effort. You probably know people who have made the switch. See, we are nuts. But like me, you find yourself here — 2 years, 5 years, 10 years in the field. You know you are here to stay or at least you are seriously considering making this your career.
Now look at your rationale. There is no right or wrong but consider this. After many years in the field I am now at semi-retirement. I have found for those of us who stay in the field and succeed; we see it primarily as a service profession. We recall statements such as, "I would do it anyway, so I might as well get paid for it." "It is just who I am." "It is who I know I was meant to be." We are here because we gain work-related self-esteem. We gave another person a fighting chance to make it in this world. And we have met with enough success to make it worthwhile for us. Every time we think we are fools for doing this, we meet one of our former clients. They hug us and thank us. Ok. We are hooked again and off we go. Energized. Does this fit your statement? Does if fit enough for you to stay? Rewrite your statement to reflect your re-contemplation.
It is true we are not going to earn an income comparable to our friends in the business world. But we can earn a living; support our family; own a reasonably priced home; and, with scholarships; send our kids to state college. Your rewards are those of the Spirit. They include a life full of blessings, meaning and purpose. Rewards are in meeting and working with people (not all but enough) who are emotionally mature enough to appreciate you. You gain personal satisfaction by seeing your clients grow, knowing you were an impetus for it. Living with a "calling" that keeps you developing into your full potential. It challenges you and keeps you engaged in the Spirit — filled life — and earning enough money to pay for what you really need, including an annual vacation.
We find the blessings extend well beyond the work and deeply into the personal quality of our lives. As we age through each of the adult developmental stages, we coped better because of our profession and our spirit. We are not perfect, but better than we would have been. And we see, as we grow, we become stronger. We like it. No. We love it. With age, when we consider who we might have become if we had made a slightly different choice, we realize we have our needs met. With the choices we made, we now have greater peace. We have greater joy. These, in significant part, because we stayed in this profession. I am not judging or condemning other professions. I am just saying this is the shared hindsight of many veterans in this field, including myself.
Think Piece: Now look at your motivations. What do you need to do to be more realistic? Are you satisfied with your motivations? Write out your revised motivational statement.
A NOTE TO COUNSELORS WHO ARE FORMER CLIENTS.
Of note, if you are a recovering substance abuser, an adult child of an alcoholic, or a recovering domestic violence victim or perpetrator, (at least one of which most of us are), please consider that you have great potential in the field but coupled with risks which warrant being addressed. Your continued growth is essential for you to continue to be competent. You have personal experiences with problems and their solutions which clients value and to which they will listen. There is an instant comradery. You are one of them. But you can avoid making costly career ending mistakes, if you obtain a master's degree in the field. Without an appropriate degree you can pay a high price for avoidable mistakes. HUGH PRICE. Lawsuits can cost you your earnings for life. You can lose your license to practice. There are usually legal and ethical charges for which you have to defend yourself. That means hiring a lawyer who is trained in this field. Therefore, it is a wise choice to build on your experience by obtaining a master's degree in the field from a residential accredited university plus gain as much specialized training as you can.
Continual personal growth is another important factor. Together these factors will make you more competent, less vulnerable to drastic problems and keep proud of yourself and of your work. Please be aware: There is an early stage in recovery in which there is a propensity for some people in recovery to miss-assess their capabilities. In this miss-assessment, the recovering person believes they have all the training they need to be a competent counselor. Just tell people to do it the way that worked for them. Easy. No, it is not. This is fool's gold. It can be disastrous for client and counselor. This attitude, when carried out, can result in a rude awakening. One with costs you don't want to pay. It is rather like a teenager who just delivered a baby claiming the delivery makes her an expert in childrearing and she should be able to be hired as a college professor in child development. Don't go there. Complete your recovery and get your master's degree.
Some people assert that you have to have had the problem yourself to be able to counsel someone with that problem. This seems to be a prevalent thought in the field of substance abuse. Experience helps, certainly but no one can have had, and conquered all the problems that you will encounter as a counselor. Part of the idea is that you need to be able to counsel as many types of clients as possible and education is how to expand your abilities beyond your own experiences.
We all come to this field, at least in part, from having significant personal problems. The difference between making it and not making it in this field involves continual personal and professional growth. I recommend anyone in the field to enter counseling for themselves every 5 years. Seeking therapy is also smart whenever going through a major life change such as divorce or the death of a close loved one. It is also wise whenever we become aware of a life issue we do not seem to be able to resolve ourselves. Believe me, our clients pick up on it when we have unresolved issues. They see it even if we don't. Having unresolved issues can severely negatively impact our competency.
I recall telling a friend the reason I was not working in my field while I was going through a divorce. At that point in my life, I knew that if a client shared their problems with me, I would probably throw them out of my office while yelling at them that my problems were much worse than theirs — and not quite in those words.
Spirituality involves our sense of injustice in the world. Experiences of injustice are part of the underpinnings of why we are in this field. Let me start this section with a story from my early teen years about how I learned about injustice. You will find I tell a lot of stories to my clients. I find it engages them and is a good anti-resistance technique. In fact, I add to these purposes by kidding them. I tell them I am not going to let them out of the office until they hear at least 2 of my stories, so this story gets them part way home. This usually brings a laugh. They relax and then they can hear the message of the story. It is surprising at how well this works. The purpose of the story is to stimulate your recall of your story. Somewhere back there in your childhood you saw or experienced injustice and it impacted you. The experience was part of your path to becoming a counselor.
Fred was a person who was instrumental in my development as a counselor. He owned a farm and lived by himself. His parents and twin brother had all died before I knew him. He sang in the choir, led the youth group and was an eligible bachelor all his life. Yet he was never able to marry despite his desire to do so. The "reason" was Fred had contracted polio as a child. His body was severely impacted. I remember his form as painfully thin and having one shoulder sitting several inches higher than the other. He never complained. But there was a norm in this farming community that "no woman should have to marry him because of his 'deformity'. After all, they would be burdened by having to take care of him." I was a child and later a teen who sat in front of this wonderful, fun-loving, and marvelous man in a little church choir. I came to believe this was a great injustice. What a wonderful husband and father he would have been. I was angry he should be alone in this world because of such thinking. It is fascinating that all through to the end of his life, he ran his farm, made a living, was a Sunday school teacher, and a youth director. Only I noticed he took care of himself without some poor pathetic woman being burdened with his care. I feel my anger now as I think of the injustice. This is not a blaming of the people but of the times in which we lived. These were good people. I loved them. I think Fred did too. It was a norm and norms are there because no one figures out how to break them. It took generations to be born before we accepted people with handicaps. I imagine many of those same people would see it differently today. But Fred handled all this prejudice, alone, with dignity and grace. I would have been "up in arms, protesting loudly". But not Fred. He had much more dignity than I can claim.
He was an unspoken mentor to me. He was not allowed to be a formal mentor, after all. But I was drawn to him. He had the most engaging laugh. I wish I handled life with such laughter. I hope he knows he had a profound impact on me personally and in my chosen profession. For as I look back, I know that he sensitized me to the inner lives of others. He showed me dignity and the amazing ability to be loving and gracious. Even in the face of your supposed friends and neighbors who are fearful of what you are. I know I gained an ability to put on another's shoes unafraidedly from watching and learning from such a great man.
He made me understand what it means to be strong. We had a communion between us although it was never allowed to be spoken. I think he knew I understood and I was on his side. I think he understood my shoes. I know he cared for me as I cared for him. And, I was on his side. I am even now. For all the Freds in this world, we are on your side. The making of a counselor.
Think Piece: How did you learn about injustice? What is your earliest memory of it? How did it influence you to become a counselor? Write down your story.
Start to let your stories piece together the path that led you to become a counselor. When you finish, the stories will give you a picture of how you got to where you are today. It will affirm the validity of your chosen career. You will know your story.
Most of us already have a belief in God. It is one of the reasons we are in this field. One religion or another is not THE religion of counselor. Christianity or any other specific religion or denomination can be the basis for a belief system for a good counselor. It is essential to have a personal relationship with a good and all -powerful Spiritual Being. Some people are comfortable with different terms: Higher Power, Jesus, other positive religious figures; some American Indian Tribes have the Great Spirit and the Great Father. As long as it is personal, all powerful, the source of love, and leads us to loving ourselves, other people and loving the Great Spirit.
Think Piece: What do you call your Great Spirit? Is it positive? Believing in all people? Is it powerful? Are you close to each other? ______________
I am only going to address the spiritual issues related to being a counselor.
There needs to be belief in the primary goodness of all people and that we are redeemable: A belief there is a powerful spirit in our clients, and we can tap into it. We need to believe it is pushing itself up to the surface. And know we can connect with it. Let me illustrate with a skill that may work for you. It is called ...
DANCING WITH THE SPIRIT: One of the skills I learned early on my career was to look people in the eyes with purpose. Actually, I didn't learn it. I stumbled upon it and I just kept it up because it worked. I bet you have "learned" a lot of good stuff this way too. Give yourself credit.
Dancing with the Spirit looks like this: It is a gaze, not a stare, nor an analytical look, but a gaze that is accepting and communes with the Spirit, which we believe is there. We almost ignore the presenting persona and instead relate to the wonderful, healing Spirit deep inside them. It is beyond those eyes. We dance with it, coaxing it out into the open.
Welcoming it. Giving permission. Much like coaxing a frightened child from a corner where he is hiding after a storm. Wooing it to come out. We talk to ourselves reassuring ourselves it is there. We may not see it at first, but we know it is there. And it wants to come out. We hold an attitude of permission giving. When we see it, we greet it with blatant joy. We welcome it home and invite it to stay. I have seen this make a case. It is wonderfully effective. And I came by it by accident. Go figure.
Think Piece: What skills have you stumbled upon? Write them out. It is more real to us when we write them down. Good stuff, huh? It is part of your advanced counselor's style.
But there needs to be a caution. This gaze is part of my normal everyday functioning, so I have learned to retrain myself in social situations. I have learned to be aware when I am in the company of people, some people tend to move away from me. My gaze, even though not with intention or intensity, can be frightening to some people. So, I intentionally turn my head away. On the other hand, I have had some terrific, well-connected conversations with people who are not threatened by it. Not therapy sessions but more intimate conversations because they see me as safe. So being intentional about the gaze helps.
Practice: Practice the gaze first with a willing partner until you get it under your belt and before you try it on a client. Find someone who understands what you are doing and why and will buy-in enough to give you good feedback. You need to know how you are coming across. You want the person to feel warm, safe, accepted, loved. Did you get that? Accepted. Safe. Loved. A sign of success with the skill is you may get a warm smile from them when they relax and connect with you. The smile and change in attitude is visible. You can see it. Rapport. Great rapport builder. If your practice partner tells you (s)he feels pressed, judged, analyzed, uncomfortable, or that you are being weird, you need to practice more. Try practicing in front of a mirror. It is in the attitude. It is not the eyes. The eyes are just the conduit.
Think Piece: Is this a skill you can use? Do you need to practice it? Who can be your practice partner? Write their name: ________________________________
Excerpted from "I Am a Counselor: Now What!"
Copyright © 2019 Betty Rounds, L.C.S.W..
Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
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