Terminating the client-counselor relationship

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What is the best way to end the counseling relationship?  A counselor’s hope is with the client in a better place and with a higher level of awareness.  Of course we want to know that we made a difference, but that’s the tricky part of working with humans.  We are all unique and results are measured differently.  With one client a certain level of progress may not seem very significant, but with others that same type of progress may be just enough to leave a lasting effect.  No matter how significant the results, terminating the counseling relationship is just as important as beginning it.

When meeting with a client, I like to be as proactive as possible.  The more information my clients have the better, that way there are no surprises.  Counseling is a very intimate relationship.  People don’t generally put their whole selves along with their secrets on the table for all to see, so developing the counseling relationship is instrumental.  Part of gaining trust comes with informed consent, making sure they know what to expect from you, and ending treatment in a respectful way.  Carl Rogers theory, person-centered approach, is drilled into your counseling education for a reason.  The three aspects Rogers believed are critical to the counseling relationship are unconditional positive regard, empathy, and genuineness.  If your clients feel that you are present-engaged- participating- and you care, they are much more inclined to do the work.  Get them started with an understanding that there will be an end within a timeline. This gives them a metaphorical carrot to chase; an outcome to look forward to.  One caution – you can be a part of the journey without getting on the bus.  Meaning, maintain your differentiation to prevent transference and countertransference.  It takes practice, patience, and diligence to confront your own emotions after a difficult session.  Be sure to take the time to meet with a supervisor or peer to process the session, your feelings and move through it.  We must constantly take care of ourselves, spend too much time giving all you have to everyone else, and there is little left to work with.  This work helps you and ultimately makes you a better counselor.   

The interesting part of counseling is when your clients surprise you.  Sometimes we can make termination such a big deal in our heads, and admittedly feel a bit disappointed when they are not nearly as bummed as we are to end the counseling relationship.  Bottom line…Inform them, Rogers them, and give them a loose outline so they can take you on an incredible journey!

Transformation is an experience that few of us have a front row ticket to, get in that mosh pit, get engaged, and take it all in. It will change your life as well.

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Ying or yang? Finding balance through your inner dialogue.

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I found a poem about balance that I wrote many years ago.  It is a great lead into the topic of finding balance and appreciation in all aspects of life.

sometimes the sun shines on my life, it makes my whole world glow. 
i love to feel the warmth on my skin, on my soul.
other days the rain pours on my heart and overflows into areas that are saturated.
every part of life needs this balance.
without sunshine, my flowers will not grow.
without rain, my garden would dry out and die.
i am grateful for both the good and the bad. 
those opposite forces bring balance, contentment, appreciation.
~Melissa Cooper

 It may be hard sometimes to find anything positive when unfortunate events occur, but this way of thinking Continue reading

Having a baby – you want me to do what?

A friend recently asked me to write about expectations of a man and a woman when having a baby. Well, we talked about expectations a bit in my recent blog, so let’s reframe that to, understanding the relationship transition with a newborn. When two people decide to have or are blessed with the joy of children, there is a 9 month delay for good reason. Even with adoptions, the process takes time. Being a parent is an awesome responsibility and
Continue reading

Externalizing the Problem

This is a great activity I learned from one of my amazing professors at University of South Florida, Dr. Ryan Henry.  You can use it with a client or even with yourselves to better understand Continue reading

The lies we tell ourselves

Have you ever wondered why it is there is that one thing- a habit, a behavior, a prevalent thought, a vice… that no matter how hard it seems you try, you cannot conquer? What is the lie you tell yourself that continues this? I heard an interesting sermon this morning that relates to this topic, and whether you are believers or non believers, the message is powerful. The question asked is what was the event, and what is the lie you tell yourself now? The Pastor’s example was that as a child his parents got divorced and his grandmother would babysit them, and she often soothed him and his siblings with food. He recalled her crying as they ate, yet reassuring them that everything would be okay. He was overweight as a 10 year old, and the lie he told himself is that he would always be fat.

This message of how we speak things into being in our lives, has been delivered in many different forums. I have even addressed this in previous blogs. So, how do we take steps to change this, to conquer our demon?

We Discover Truth.  Meditate, pray, listen to the voice within to help you find that truth.  Then, live in that truth.  If the message says you will always be fat, your truth is that you will honor and protect the health of your body.  If you have an addiction, the message AA/NA groups implore you to remember is that you have to give it over to your higher power (whatever a higher power means to you), give up the illusion of control, and live each day one day at a time – without the source of your addiction.  If the lie is that you are a bad person, your truth is that no person is bad, there are just bad choices, and from a bad choice a lesson can be learned to start anew.  Bottom line, find the truth that resonates for you and boldly decide to honor that truth!

Please comment and share your truth, so others can learn from your journey.

Managing Stress

Whats the old adage about moderation?  “Everything in moderation, including moderation.”  That applies to stress as well. Stress can be a good thing, it can motivate you to get things done, to push harder, to go past limits you thought possible – which leads to growth.  It also helps you avoid danger and keeps you alert.  Then there are the times when stress isn’t such a good thing. There may be times it feels like you have no control over the stressors in your life. This may be true to a point.  You may have no control over what comes your way, but you do have control over the most powerful determinant of how stress manifests in your life – how you respond. Continue reading

Aging Gracefully

No matter what we do, what we don’t do, what we see, hear, believe or want – one thing remains unchanged about life. Time passes and we get older. We can age gracefully or we can wither away. This year as I reflect on another 29th birthday — hey no judgement! 29 was a good year, so I plan to remain 29!  I think about what I have accomplished thus far and what my dreams are for the future. Taking some time each year to reflect on outcomes (goals), accomplishments, and new challenges to embark upon, offers an opportunity to evaluate the commitments you have made to yourself and others and evaluate the results. If the results are not what you had planned or hoped for, chart a new course and continue or develop a new outcome plan. Continue reading