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

Being thankful in the face of adversity

Thank you.  I appreciate it.  I appreciate you.  Gracia.  Many thanks.  That meant a lot to me.  You helped me more than you know.  You rock!

These are all ways to express gratitude for the gifts large and small that come upon us in our lives.  Thanksgiving is a good day to celebrate your life and revel in the blessings that you are surrounded with each day.  It may be difficult to find something to be thankful for sometimes, especially for those that may be managing a tragedy such as a job loss, financial troubles, mental health concerns, illness, the death of a loved one, or other misfortunes that come around in life.  Even in these most difficult times, finding the things that make you smile, that offer you even moments of joy in your life may build the momentum to bring you out of the life situation you may be in.  There is a saying, “Choose your attitude”  and, “live your  life with intention.” Continue reading

Change…clear, specific and appealing!

The concept of change has many aspects and directions to it. The instrumental part? Starting! The key concept in change? Clarity.

Sure, we have had those moments when we have thought about change, maybe we even started planning. Perhaps made an appointment, did some research, and maybe we even kicked in and did a few repetitions on this thing we were changing. The trouble? Keeping up with it, making it stick. See, change is tough, or isn’t that what we tell ourselves? Well….it feels tough at first. It’s new; its uncomfortable; it’s an awakening, and our mind and body don’t really want to change. They are used to doing what we do; they are used to the same old stuff. This brings about fear, and the realization that either I am going to have to actually utilize effort to make progress, or wow….what if this change doesn’t work? What if I put effort into something and in the end, it doesn’t pan out? See…that is the crux of it. “What if in the long run, it doesn’t pan out?” This fear paralyzes us from progress, because we would rather stay where we are, where we know what to expect instead of doing something different. Why put work and effort in and then end up disappointed because we cannot change anyways? That is why we not only have to change what we do when we want to acquire a new behavior; we have to think differently. I see this frequently in work with clients with addictions, but the cool thing about changing the way you think, is it is helpful for anyone. Continue reading

How to establish goals with a vague client in a collaborative manner.

Establishing goals with a client can sometimes be one of the most difficult parts of the relationship.  When working at my internship site last year, I worked with folks who were working towards self-sufficiency.  Even if we explained to them that counseling is part of the program during their intake process, they quickly forgot that they “signed up” for it.  When we meet an individual for the first time, they may not understand the purpose of counseling, they may think we are doing something to them.  We would hear statements such as:  “I just need a job” or “I just need a little support until I can get back on my feet.”  The troubling fact is that a large percentage of the individuals we served had been chronically homeless or close to homelessness for a significant portion of their lives.  So, the purpose of counseling for that population is to help them create healthier patterns in many aspects of their lives so they can live in a new and better way. They don’t normally come to see us with open arms, so identifying goals in a collaborative fashion could, at times, be difficult.  Continue reading

How do you know that you got it right?

I am close to graduation and completing my internship, I have the privilege to work with some amazing clients that are in recovery.  So far, it has been an eye-opening learning experience.  After class the other night, I started to reflect on a case conceptualization that we discussed in class.  I began to think, how do you know that you got it right?  In some cases there are many different paths a counselor can take with a client and there may be several different relevant issues the client needs help with.  So, again how do you know for sure that you got it right?  Continue reading