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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Happiness…

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I found this picture and it makes me think of happy times.  I grew up in Florida and I was married on the beach, so it is one of those places that feels like home.  The sound of the waves crashing into the shore, the birds chirping, the sound of kids playing and laughing, and the ever flowing water.  Remembering these things instantly makes me happy.  So, how does it happen?  Where does happiness come from?  How can we all get a slice?  I did some research and it looks like happiness means something different to all of us, but a recent study shows 56% of happiness comes from mental attitude, 25% from love, and incredibly only 4% from money, the other 15% comes from accomplishments and creative activity.  So, if it’s true – that the majority of my happiness comes from me, how can we all
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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

Burnout

5amIt’s 5am, the alarm goes off and I realize another day awaits, but it’s hard to get out of bed. My body doesn’t feel rested, my eyes burn and my head aches. My jaw feels sore, probably from the clenching or grinding in my sleep. Coffee may not be enough to activate me this morning. When I get to work, Continue reading

Keeping the Love You Have

The pathway to love seemed so hard when I was single, and to be honest…even when I first met my husband. Keeping the love you have requires just as much work, if not more than the hunt. The difference is your investment and your perspective on how this person fits into your life long-term.

Relationships are like plants. They are all a little different, and require a specific type of care, but the basic principles are the same. You water it, fertilize it, give it the right amount of sun and attention, and it grows stronger each day.

For some the difficult task may seem to be finding your partner in life, your person, or as I like to call them – your lobster. The reality is that its harder to keep the love you have, than find it. Some may believe once I have netted that delectable lobster, I am all set and get to enjoy the fruits of my sea voyage. The truth is, your real journey begins. It takes work to meld two lives together. Two hearts, two minds, two belief systems, two sets of values, financial understandings, parenting beliefs, behaviors, etc. It only took your whole life to become who you are, is it realistic to think you can change another person overnight to do everything you want – or think is “right”? Of course not! A marriage/relationship is about coming together with a common set of beliefs and making it work for both people, then creating a new reality that honors the life you want to live – together.

Over the past few years in my marriage I have learned Five Principles that have helped us build a happy life together.
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Adjusting to Disabilities

Adjusting to disabilities is different for those born with disabilities and those with an acquired disability.  Also, whether or not the disability is visible makes a difference in how they perceive themselves and how others view them.  People will avoid people with disabilities (PWD) or treat them as if they are not an equal.  If you have a mental illness, people may not understand why you cannot perform certain activities or tasks, or interact with the community.  For those with a physical disability, they may be seen as being unable to do certain things, or limited because they are a wheelchair user or blind.  In both these examples other people’s perceptions are what limits the individual before they even begin to deal with their own understanding of their disability.  People with a high level self-esteem, good support system, more economic resources and social supports have a better experience and are less likely to face the same barriers as those who do not.   The focus of community is about the PWD’s right to engage in and maintain gainful employment and access to resources.  This creates barriers in different communities that feel if a person with a disability has to work, then the family is not performing their duty in the family to take care of them.  Working can have such a positive impact on a PWD.  It allows for social interaction, the ability to learn new skills, build self-esteem, make their own money, and be independent.  Understanding how culture plays a part in disability will go a long way in helping the client and their family members support their loved one. 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