Becoming a multiculturally competent counselor requires research, understanding the basics about the different populations you serve, diligence, and the ability to know your limits. Meet your clients where they are and understand that counseling a multicultural population is not a one size fits all strategy. It is about being aware of your own biases and prejudices and doing the work to overcome them so that you can be an effective professional. As much as we want to help everyone, we cannot possibly be a specialist in everything. When we meet with clients from different cultures, we must consider other aspects of their diversity as an individual that include more than what you see; such as disability, age, sexual orientation and gender, spirituality and mental illness. The term diversity has seemed over the ages to be viewed as a black or white issue, but to me understanding diversity is about being open to the experience of others that are different from you, and seeing and appreciating them for who they are. When we are able to meet a client in a place that shows no judgment, that offers unconditional positive regard, genuineness and respect, the opportunity to help them make progress can be limitless. Read More
Most days we float around in our own little world having no idea the impact we can have on others. From the passing smile to a stranger, the phone call to a customer, the angry eyes we give a loved one when they annoy us, even having a chance to vote, calling a friend or family member to catch up or giving our best effort towards activities we are a part of. These small things can make a big difference. In this big world that constantly tells us through media, politics, and consumerism that we are not enough, that we need something or someone to be of value, we may start to question how our involvement could matter. The American culture is one of individualistic mindsets. We don’t know our neighbors, we are too busy to build deep relationships with our coworkers – who may be competition, even our kids spend less time cultivating face to face relationships and instead spend time online or texting. The value of face to face connections, of a hug, smile or handshake cannot be underestimated. Read More
What did I learned in my last Counseling class before my field experience? I thought I knew something about Counseling Theorists, but then Dr. D had this way of showing you the theories in such a way that they really stick.
The class structure was a great format to dissect and dig into theories. The process of presentation followed by professor overview, then movement into a live role play, and finally into an activity created an environment of learning that leaves room for participation, learning and feedback. I got the most from the role plays, as these helped me see how different theories can impact individuals and problems. These experiences have helped me choose the theories that I believe in and trust will work for my style and my view of human nature and development. I have learned that theory is the second most important part of working with clients. Read More
Last week I wrote about finding that path to extraordinary and how my journey began when I decided to change my mind to become lighter and more agile. The specific goal? To run a half-marathon! On Sunday, I did it! We fared the cold weather and the misty rain, the hills we had not trained for, and incredibly 3 hours later we were crossing the finish line. My hubby was my wingman, and even though his pace is much faster than mine, he stayed with me till the finish line. That support cannot be overlooked. When we are doing something that requires a change of thinking, it is important to surround yourself with people who are on your side, supportive and believe in you!
During the process, I felt great, happy, and for a moment overwhelmingly proud of myself. I reflected on who I used to be, and how great it feels to make positive changes for a healthy lifestyle. Sure there were moments when I had pain in my body, or I was really cold from the weather change and rain, but not once did I ever consider giving up. That was not an option. We trained for the half, we put in the work, and we were ready. Now I wasn’t sure if i would ever do another, but then when I finished and crossed that finish line, that all changed. If I could do 13.1 in 3 hours with bad weather and hills I had not trained for, then I could blast that time under better conditions! So, next half-marathon scheduled for March! The things we can accomplish when we put away the thoughts that sabotage our excellence!
If you told me last year that I would be running a half marathon on October 7, 2012 in Washington DC, I would have told you that you were crazy! Words like “I can’t, I will never be, I am just not that person” were commonplace in my vocabulary. Pity, really, when I know from experience, when I really want something I can make it happen. The only thing that stops me 99% of the time is ME.
So, it all began when my old supervisor taught a lesson one night in group.
If you check out my blog from November 29, 2011, entitled “Change…clear, specific and appealing“, all this will make a bit more sense. I have, for as long as I remember had an unhealthy relationship with food, my weight and my body. I subscribed to the fact that I would “always” be overweight because I like to eat..as though change were impossible.
After my Supervisor’s lesson in group last year, probably around June, something looked different in that picture. He taught it another time a couple of months later and it really started making sense. So, I had to ask him to use my “problem” and guide me in the appropriate language to clear up the foggy messages I was sending to my brain.
See, I was saying I wanted to “lose weight” and “eat less”, but all my brain heard was weight and eat. The brain doesn’t understand negations, so you have to be very clear in what you want, whatever the goal, outcome, or result you are looking for.
So, instead he instructed me to be clear without negations. He asked what I wanted my outcome to be. I said, I would love to run a marathon. He said, “Okay, how about lighter and more agile?” It immediately fit. When I am lighter and more agile, it will be easier for me to run a long distance. Next, it is about being specific. So, we came up with “I run a marathon.” Finally, how did we make it appealing to my brain? I see myself at the finish line, I have completed the marathon, I have a huge smile, and I feel happy, excited and proud of my accomplishment. My body feels good. Strong. And more agile.
That is when the work started, in those conversations with him, almost a year ago. So, fast forward to today. My husband and I moved to DC in January where running is a popular activity. I met someone at work who is an avid marathoner. They gave me a training calendar, offered a few tips, and recommended a running store. I did a little research, found a half marathon (gotta crawl before you walk), and began little by little to run.
Now, please understand, never in a million years would I have chosen to start running. I was the girl who attempted running with her husband and acted more like a 2-year-old with a temper tantrum than an educated adult. I was all, “I can’t, it’s too hard, it hurts, blah, blah, blah.”
Looking back I can see why he was so annoyed with me. The only thing holding me back was me. I said, I can’t – so I couldn’t, it’s too hard – so it was, it hurts – so it did. I gave up before I even began! Yesterday, I ran 12 miles! 12.2 miles? Me? 12.2 miles! Yep! And this weekend 13.1 for my very first half-marathon! I cleared up the foggy messages in my brain, I set out to run a half-marathon, become lighter and more agile, stronger, proud of myself and my accomplishments, and what-do-you-know? I am doing it.
The lesson here about life is that large tasks work best when completed in small bites. If I had set out to begin running 13.1 miles that first week, it would have been impossible and I would have thrown in the towel. Instead, I did the research, came up with a plan, gathered the appropriate supplies (running shoes – super important!), and increased my miles each week. There were weeks when I got off track, but I still had my eye on the prize. My brain is on a mission, it has a destination. And this Sunday, those 13.1 miles are going down!
When working with clients, they may have tasks or situations that seem overwhelming. They may not be sure of where to even start. If we encourage them to start with the outcome, then work to the solution in small steps by using this strategy – clear, specific and appealing, big problems become manageable tasks.
For example, I had a client who had a sizeable debt to repay, working 2 jobs, having car problems and was saving money to move out of the shelter. We worked a budget. We looked at the small to the large. What is most important? Keeping the car, right? Keep the car – keep the job. So, we worked a way to repair the car, so her jobs would not be affected. Next she portioned a part of her check for student loans, for savings to move and allowed a small part for her to have fun. There has to be some reward in all that hard work. When she looked at the whole picture, she became overwhelmed, “how will I ever pay it all? I am going to be here forever!” After we were clear about her outcome – live independently. She could focus on small tasks to get closer to that goal. How was she specific? I will find one job that pays well enough to cover debt and expenses to live in my own place. How did she make it appealing? She envisioned herself at her home, inviting her mother for dinner, entertaining friends, feeling safe, secure and happy.
To think, what we could miss if we allow limits that only exist in our minds to hold us back from the sweetness of accomplishing the extraordinary! We all have something extraordinary brewing under the surface. Find clarity to bring your extraordinary!
Love. It is the one thing in life that we all need, search for, hope for, ache for, and even sometimes in our fear – run from. John Lennon said it best, “All You Need Is Love.” Martin Luther King said, “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.” From a spiritual perspective, “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NIV). The Dali Lama notes that, “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.”
If love is essential to all aspects of life, why is it so hard to see it when it arrives before you? I recall a time when I thought all I wanted was a relationship with a man who truly loved me, yet I did many things to get in my own way, and prevent love from flourishing in my life. Read More
How do you console a person experiencing grief? Whether it is a loved one, a client, or coworker, the words never seem to be full enough to say enough; and the gifts, cards and flowers seem trivial when compared to what the person is experiencing. So, how can you help a person experiencing tragedy? In the past few months, several people I know have experienced loss of loved ones, illness, and tragic events beyond their control. Even this week, I received the sad news that my grandmother is in the hospital, and my cousin’s young daughter is having heart trouble. In my experience, folks have told me that the best thing to do is to just be there. The comfort comes from knowing you care, and that if they need you, you are there. Read More
What are the very basics to counseling? What helps you build rapport with your clients?According to Seligman (2010), Rogers theoretical perspective places huge significance on facilitative conditions that he believed created a positive client-clinician relationship that promotes the clients’ self-awareness and ability to direct their lives in positive ways. Congruence, unconditional positive regard, and empathy were the most important of these conditions. Read More
My posts have been few as of late, however, I am ready to get back to writing! I have been on a whirlwind! The past 8 months have been amazing, remarkable, incredible, astounding! I am so happy, and feel super blessed! So, what happened? What is going on? I graduated in December, my husband received a job promotion that brought us to Washington DC. I was able to transfer. Two months later a counseling job opened, I applied and in April started work as a counselor for the Department of Veterans Affairs.
It is interesting how change can scare you, elate you, stun you, overwhelm and excite you while throwing you into a new reality you could not have imagined in your most creative dream. It has been quite a change, and all have been good. Of course we miss our friends and family, but we are enjoying this new adventure. Read More