Sometimes a person might have some trauma, memories, or patterns that create unhealthiness in their behavior, and in their lives. As such, they might need the help of qualified professionals who are trained to help this person get to the bottom of their emotional problems. These professionals are also able to help a person create strategies for new and healthy coping tools. These professionals are called counselors. They offer professional counseling service in Maple Creek.
In order for a person to become and to offer counseling service, they have to first take classes in social issues, psychology, and other courses dealing with people skills, and in conflict resolution. It’s important to keep in mind that those who offer counseling service aren’t psychologist. They aren’t medical professionals, although a psychologist can counsel people. A professional counselor works exclusively to help people solve their live issues, and their emotional issues.
There are many types of issues that can be manages, and even resolved with professional counseling. These issues can include phobias, smoking cessation, people skills, self-esteem, and other issues dealing with one’s emotions. Life issues that can be helped with counseling service can include grief, life changes, public speaking, and family services. Sometimes, a romantic couple or a married couple might find that they need counseling service. There could be major issues that might cause the demise of the relationship. There could be issues with respect or boundaries in the relationship. Sometimes a couple might want a mediator, because they need a neutral party to help them work through disagreements. As such, couples counseling is a very popular form of counseling service. This type of counseling has done a lot to save relationships, marriages, and families.
Counselling Service in Maple Creek – What Support They Provide
QUALITIES OF THE COUNSELOR: Genuineness, Empathy, Warmth, Unconditional Positive Regard
Genuineness, empathy, warmth, and unconditional positive regard are the core counselor qualities. Some people possess these qualities because of their philosophy and personality. Others can develop them through awareness and practice.
By genuineness I am referring to sincerity, and this is something that is conveyed by means of eye contact and facial expression. I am communicating non-verbally that what my client has to say is of the greatest importance and I am truly interested in it. So I speak of genuineness as opposed to being mechanical; a counselor who uses stock phrases or who uses too much or misplaced humour and does not take the client seriously enough is not going to be able to come across with genuineness and sincerity.
Being real; genuine. Which carries along with it the importance of being one's self instead of putting on some kind of role. In other words the way you are as a counselor in terms of your overall style and the way you come across needs to be the way you are in any relationship or situation. It is not a role, or a hat that you put on and take off. Insincerity may be communicated when the counselor looks away, being easily distracted, looking at his watch, yawning; showing by these behaviours that he really is not interested in the client's issues.
Is this sincerity and genuineness a cultural thing? Or is it cross-cultural? In North America there seems to be an emphasis on sincerity in relationships. If someone's not sincere in a relationship people don't like it as much, whereas in Europe there's more give-and-take and they take on roles more easily.
There may be different signals of sincerity. For example, in some cultures the emphasis on eye contact wouldn't be as great as in the Western culture. In native culture, or black culture, and some other cultures there's a noticeable lack of eye contact or different eye contact as compared to Western cultures. For example, in some non-white cultures, the person may look at you when talking and look away when listening which you may interpret as not listening if you are not aware of the custom. Eye contact can be different for men and women; women tend not to look men in the eyes, especially in some Eastern cultures which are patriarchal.
Another point to make here is regarding seating arrangement and body language in counseling. In addition to frequent eye contact, sitting with your legs uncrossed and with your arms uncrossed resting on the arms of the chair, may communicate a relaxed openness to the client.
Also, in terms of the angle of the chairs, about a 100 degree or a little more than a 90 degree angle tends to maximize the comfort of the client because this allows him to look past the counselor without turning his head away. Whereas if chairs are directly facing each other, this tends to set up a sense of confrontation. The distance of the chairs should be no more than three feet and not closer than two feet. This range communicates support, whereas if the chairs are too close, I may communicate intrusiveness or if the chairs are too far apart, I may communicate a lack of support for the client. Non-verbal rapport is important to the counseling relationship.
The next quality is empathy. I am speaking specifically of accurate empathy, the ability to be connected to the feelings, to the emotions of the client. So if the client is feeling sad, the counselor needs to have a sense of that sadness and be able to mirror it in voice tone and facial expression.
For example, I had a client whose little boy was killed by a city utility truck, and as she talked about the incident she was feeling sad and I felt very sad as well. Now I think it was easy for me to connect because I have a little boy, and at the time he was six or so, about the age her little boy was. I found that I was able to feel very sad. In fact it was all I could do to keep from breaking down and crying.
A rule of thumb with your empathy is not to allow your own feelings of sadness to overshadow the expression of your client's sadness. So if I were to break down and cry and my client is just feeling sad, but not crying, then that may have a particular effect on my client. Can you imagine what that may be? She'd feel like she had to cry. She becomes a caregiver. So the roles get reversed. She could become the caregiver. The focus would be taken away from the client. Also, I may be seen as fragile and as someone who needed to be protected from the client's pain. So the client may tend to hold back her painful experiences for fear that I may break down and cry. I may appear to be overly sensitive and fragile.
Empathy is conveyed in non-verbal ways such as tearing or a frown if the client's feeling is sadness. Keep in mind that empathy must also be genuinely felt and genuinely mirrored. Any insincerity from the counselor will erode the client's feeling of safety.
Essentially I will be mirroring the emotional content or the emotions of my client whether the feeling is anger, sadness, fear, or some other feeling. Some counselors have said that empathy is the most therapeutic counselor quality because it lends support to the client's pain.
Empathy may also be conveyed verbally in the voice tone. And so I will speak with empathic reflections. This is a statement that reflects back what the client has been saying, accompanied by a feeling word. An empathic reflective statement would be, "So you're feeling sad because your good friend just moved away, is that what you're feeling?"
When you as the counselor show tears what does the client perceive? Is the client going to think you don't really understand or is he going to become defensive? If your tears are an accurate reflection of the client's feeling, and if your expression of feeling is a little bit less than the client's expression of feeling, your empathy is likely to be accepted as support. However, something else that may happen is that the client's own engagement of emotion is scary for him so that he withdraws. This is an issue of the client's not feeling safe with himself or perhaps with you, which I will speak about in a few minutes.
The next quality is warmth, and here I am talking about non-possessive warmth, as opposed to cool detachment. Warmth is caring that is conveyed in a soft and gentle voice tone and facial expression. Warmth may be conveyed in a non-verbal way and a non-possessive way. Now what would possessive warmth be? Smothering. Too touchy-feely. Smothering in that way. In a physical way, giving too much physical caring. Sometimes a counselor will like to give out hugs or want to hug a client more for the counselor's own needs than for the client. And so that can become possessive.
A female counselor was mentioning that she would touch and sometimes have it misread. It wasn't a prolonged contact, just a touch. So the client was interpreting any physical contact as something possessive. I want to talk about touching a little more when we get down to boundaries; touching is a boundary issue.
Verbal warmth can be experienced as possessive if it is excessive in terms of the warm voice tone or in terms of verbal content if it is overstated. This may be perceived as lacking sincerity or as superficial and shallow, or if it is perceived as sincere it is experienced as being too mothering and protective or condescending, treating the client too much as a child.
We can understand warmth by its opposite quality which is to be cold. In this case the voice tone is emotionally flat, detached and mechanical, and verbal content may tend to understate the client's plight. It is a style which communicates aloofness, distance, and unconcern.
unconditional positive regard
Another important attribute is unconditional positive regard. Some people believe that this is the most curative or therapeutic thing that a counselor can provide. This implies a particular mental attitude: that the client's problems and feelings are of the greatest importance. This session is the most important session for the client, and the client himself is as valuable as the most highly respected person on earth even if he does not believe that he is.
I am regarding the client's behaviour, no matter how self-destructive or even destructive of others it may be, as having a story behind it that allows it to make sense, that makes it understandable even though the client is responsible for choosing it.
The belief is that a person will make choices that are best for himself if he is aware of all the possible choices. If I have this ability to convey unconditional positive regard it is going to be possible for me to sincerely validate my client, to bring all my best ability and expertise to the session, to listen and focus on the client, to accept the client's pace and process of recovery.
That would be like having Charles Manson, the mass-murderer, as a client. Yes, he killed a lot of people, however, he does have the possibility or the potential for change. So he's here and my task is to help him to be the best person that he can be from what appears to be the worst.
You see the person as having intrinsic value apart from his behaviour, and you see his behaviour as having an understandable story behind it. And that will allow us to be able to remain in a helping position with our client. There may be some types of people, such as Charles Manson, that we would not be able to maintain an unconditional positive regard for. What are some other types of clients that you may have trouble with? Perhaps sexual offenders, serial killers, rapists, child abusers.
Could that perhaps be why they are some of the hardest to cure or change? It's hard to find people who are able to work with those types of individuals. It's difficult for a counselor to work in those circumstances and still separate himself to such an extent that he becomes a part of the solution rather than part of the problem. It can be a challenge to keep from reacting judgmentally and lose one's effectiveness in that way. So what should we do if we cannot maintain unconditional positive regard for a client? Have him seek someone else, perhaps. In this circumstance you might say, "I'm not sure I'll be able to help you as much as you may need." Make a referral and own it as your problem that you don't have the skills to help him.
When you say to the client, "I don't feel that I have the skills that you need to get the help that you need," you show you are accepting responsibility for your limitations, rather than blaming the client. Along with that goes the ability to be non-judgmental. I need to be able to regard the client's behaviour in terms of behaviours which work well and which do not work well for the client's functioning, rather than in moral terms. So we need to be aware of the range of judgmental terms to bee left out of the counseling relationship and left out of our counseling vocabulary.
Rather than say to a client, "Do you think that's wise or do you think that's right?" I'm going to say, "Does that work well for you?"
The question is what works well in relationships and what doesn't work well, rather than what behaviour is right or what behaviour is wrong. Terms like inconsiderate, or imprudent, or unwise, irresponsible, right or wrong, good or bad, are judgmental terms. Unconditional positive regard goes beyond being non-judgmental and most certainly includes being non-judgmental. The client usually brings too much self-judgment with him, so he does not need ours piled on top of his.
You have unconditional positive regard for the client to the degree you have it for yourself; that same degree for someone else. So I think it's a matter of degrees... possibly to realize how silly it would be and I'm at 60 or 70 percent of my ability to be non-judgmental and that's the way it is; and putting aside that and still being as totally open as possible. I mean there's no 100%.
There is a point where you choose not to be judgmental. I may feel judgmental but a client doesn't have to know that. I can choose not to express it; I can filter that out. The choice of leaving your stuff behind and going there without your stuff so it doesn't get in the way of your work with the client.
The client is already self-blaming enough; already bringing enough self-judgment and guilt with him, so he doesn't need your judgment of him. The dependent client may allow you to judge him and he will return to the session. In any case, judgment tends to erode safety.
The counselor can be viewed similar to a defence lawyer who is appointed by the court to defend and support the client. You can't make any judgments and you give unconditional support. It's as if the client tends to be his own prosecutor and presents the negative self-talk, for example.
It has to do with a fundamental view of humanity that everyone is sincere and well-intentioned and that people have problem behaviours for understandable reasons. In other words, a client may not have been responsible for beginning his unhealthy patterns that were adopted as a means of surviving painful life experiences. However, although the person was responsible for starting the patterns and although they seemed to work well during childhood for example, the client is responsible for perpetuating those patterns in adult life, and they do not work well now or he would not be in counseling. Maybe there was an abusive background or there was unhealthy parental modeling, there was a tragic loss of a loved one, for example, and these experiences resulted in some adaptive behaviour that does not work well in adult life and relationships.
There's always a story there that allows the client's behaviour or problems to make sense and that allows us to remain non-judgmental of the client and to maintain positive regard. I recently heard a counselor tell a client during the first session, "What are you complaining about? What are you complaining about now?" Well that's a very judgmental way to approach a client, to assign to her problems the word "complain" or "complaining."
Some counselors may justify that by saying they are trying to elicit a transference reaction. In my view what they are doing is abusing the client to encourage the expression of feelings the client has been unable to deal with. But the end does not justify the means. It does not justify a non-professional approach; a destructive, abusive approach which could harm the client. If I can not predict a therapeutic outcome of my statement, I am not engaging in professional counseling.
Marriage Counseling – Develop The Understanding
I discovered psychology when I was a university freshman, many years ago. I loved everything about that first course, even the multiple choice tests and especially the section about counseling. Religion was not mentioned in the course, except in a negative way, but in my mind, I could see glimpses of how this newly-discovered field of study could have an impact on the church. I was surprised to discover that my old Sunday School teacher was not enamored with psychology like I was, but my interest grew as I took more courses and eventually decided to study further in graduate school.
In those days nobody talked about the integration of psychology and theology. Christian counseling was not a term that I heard often. My efforts to link my faith with my emerging career were guided by writers in the field of pastoral psychology. Most of these were more liberal theologically than I was but they wrote about ways in which psychological insights could help church-based counselors understand and better deal with issues like depression, interpersonal conflict, panic, and grief. The anti-psychology polemicists had not begun their angry campaigns against Christians in this field so I entered my profession never doubting that Christian counseling, guided by the Holy Spirit and informed by the Holy Scriptures, could be a powerful Christ-honoring tool for helping us do good to all people, especially to fellow believers (Gal. 6:10).
Over the years I have never wavered in my belief that Christian counseling has a lot to contribute to the church. I believe even more that the church makes a crucial contribution to the power and impact of Christian counseling.
*The Church Needs Christian Counselors*
Many Christian leaders still wonder why the church needs counselors. Is not good preaching and discipleship enough? Is not Christ sufficient to meet all human needs? Could not the efforts of dedicated church elders and other leaders eliminate the need for counselors? Do not the Scriptures tell us that believers have everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness? (2 Peter 1:3) Why would the church need counselors like us? We must begin our answer by looking to God's Word. Jesus was a teacher and a preacher, but he also was an effective counselor. He talked one-on-one to the woman at the well. He counseled Martha about her busy lifestyle, and talked tenderly to a woman caught in adultery. Late one night he helped Nicodemus with his spiritual struggles. Often Jesus talked with people privately, shared their hurts, gave encouragement, and guided as they coped with their problems. Sometimes he helped people find forgiveness. He asked questions, listened carefully, and often told stories that left people free to draw their own conclusions. When two of his followers were grappling with their grief and confusion on the road to Damascus, he spent time with them, listened to them, and showed them what Scripture said about their uncertainties.
In the early church and throughout the New Testament we see personal helping modeled and encouraged. Paul, for example, gave sensitive guidance and mentoring to Timothy. Barnabas was a consistent encourager. The epistles overflow with principles for living, guidelines for solving problems, and instructions for individuals with tension in their lives. More than 50 times we read one another passages. Bear one anothers burdens, we are told, encourage one another, care for one another, be kind to one another, serve one another. Of course these words are not directed to a special group known as counselors. These instructions are for all Christians, but they are teachings that encourage the type of help, support, and care giving that counselors have the calling, time, and special training to provide. There are those who say that counseling does not help. Sometimes it does not. But many people can tell encouraging stories about ways in which they have been changed by counselors who are trained to understand problems, teach communication skills, help people get along, and show how to deal with inner conflicts and pain left over from the past.
The best trained counselors recognize the influence of biology and appreciate the role that body chemicals play, sometimes creating havoc in Christian homes and individual lives. We need to remind church leaders that literally thousands of scientific research studies have examined the work of counselors and demonstrated their effectiveness. It is true, of course, that God does not need counselors for the advancement of his kingdom. Neither does he need teachers, physicians, preachers or anybody else.
In his sovereign wisdom, However, he uses mortals like us to accomplish his purposes. He could give us instant knowledge of all truth and could bestow wisdom like he gave Solomon; but he has chosen instead to work most often through godly teachers. He could heal all our diseases in an instant and sometimes he does, but for reasons that we do not fully comprehend, he brings most physical healing through the skillful hands of scientifically trained doctors and nurses. He could evangelize the world with the blink of an eye, but instead he has given this responsibility to evangelists, pastors, and faithful followers of Christ charged with the duty to go forth and make disciples. Instantaneously, God could wipe away all depression, anxiety, inner turmoil and interpersonal conflicts, but often he works through compassionate human beings with the gifts of encouragement, discernment, and counseling.
How then, do these counselors strengthen the church? First, counselors free pastors and other church leaders for the overall work of the ministry. Most pastors would agree: the demands of ministry gulp up large quantities of time and leave few hours for the concentrated care giving that counseling often demands. But no one person is called or equipped to do everything not even the pastor. Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12 teach that members of the body have different spiritual gifts and responsibilities. Counselors use their gifts to help people, honor Christ, and strengthen Christians in their churches. Counselors also help pastors, missionaries, and other church leaders deal with difficulties in their own lives. Recently I attended a large conference on church leadership led by two prominent evangelical pastors. During their messages, both mentioned how Christian counselors had helped in times of special difficulty and rejuvenated their ministries as a result. One described how a counselor had helped when the demands of ministry almost destroyed his marriage. The other talked about the time he hit bottom, burned out emotionally, physically and spiritually.
With the support of his church board he took time off, got help from a Christian therapist, and learned to pace himself for the effective ministry that he has today. Where do church leaders go when they need help? What if a pastor or missionary is struggling with a failing marriage, uncontrolled kids, hostile criticism, deep feelings of failure, insecurity, bitterness, or lust? Sometimes the best counselor is the person who can be objective, available, and trained to deal with the unique problems that may be draining energy, vitality, and effectiveness from Gods chosen servants. Christian counselors also can (and should) give support and encouragement to their spiritual leaders. This is one of the things we can do best, but I wonder how many of us take the time to come alongside our pastors or other Christian leaders to give a little inspiration and encouragement. Even when they are not having problems in their own lives or with counselees, church leaders need to know that people like us care enough to say with our words and our presence, Well done...I am standing with you. Christian Counselors have their own unique healing ministries that can strengthen the Body of Christ. Counselors have Counselors use their gifts to help people, honor Christ, and strengthen Christians in their churches.
As part of their in-depth training, counselors learn special helping skills. They have knowledge about the nature of common emotional problems like depression or anxiety, familiarity with the impact of biology on behavior, and expertise in handling faltering marriages or dealing with interpersonal conflict. Some suggest that counselors take a paraclete role, being used by the Holy Spirit to come alongside struggling people to bring special comfort, guidance, encouragement, and sometimes confrontation.
*Christian Counselors Need the Church*
One of the greatest weaknesses in the development of professional Christian counseling has been our movement away from the church. This has happened for at least three reasons. First, attitudes in some churches have driven counselors away. When church leaders condemn professional counselors and urge church members to avoid counseling, is it any wonder that some have set up their practices away from the church? Second, the mental health professions have encouraged independence. These attitudes are now changing, but for many years secular organizations and professionals have tended to distrust religion, proclaim the Importance of professional objectivity, and warned against dual relationships such as those that might occur in church settings. Influenced by managed care companies, state licensing agencies, ethical guidelines and the desire to be as professional as possible, many Christian counselors have concluded that their practices should be completely separate from the church just as medical or legal practices are independent.
Third, sometimes the movement away from the church has come because of the attitudes of counselors themselves. Some of us have kept our counseling and our Christianity compartmentalized because we do not know how to bring the two together, do not want to bring them together, fear being accused of proselytizing, or do not want our beliefs to impact our therapy adversely. But Christian counselors ignore the church at their own peril. We are members of the body of Christ. Christian counselors need the church for encouragement, support, teaching, and worship. We cannot forsake meeting together with other believers (Heb. 10:25). For many years I attended church routinely but only within the past few years have I begun to fully appreciate the role that corporate worship plays in my life. I need it. When I am traveling and miss worship with other believers, I sense a vacuum in my life even if my personal devotional life is intact. Every Christian needs the church body even when our churches are not very worshipful. We need this more because of our kind of ministry. We are in the business of seeking to undo what the devil does best. Our work is a form of spiritual warfare. He is the father of lies; we seek to help people face the truth.
He divides people; we bring them together. He convinces them that life without God is best; we teach that life without God is futile and ultimately empty. He seeks to discourage us, distract us, sidetrack us, and prevent our effectiveness as counselors; we work with the knowledge that while the evil one is powerful in his activities, the one who is in us is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4). We are helpless to do this kind of ministry in our own strength. We need the body of believers to hold us up in prayer and support. If there are none in your church who do this, you are lacking a key ingredient for your Christian counseling effectiveness. In addition, Christian counselors need the church for accountability. We live in a culture where independence and individual achievement are lauded, even in many churches. We acclaim super-star pastors and applaud our heroes in sports, music, and even the Christian counseling profession. I have seen it up close in the Christian publishing industry. Publishers, readers, and talk show hosts tell writers how wonderful they are and in time these authors begin to believe their own press reports. Accountability goes out the door along with humility. Whether or not we are successful or famous, each of us needs Christian brothers and sisters to stand alongside us, challenge us, and keep us accountable for the ways in which we live our lives, care for our marriage, pare not our kids, spend our money, deal with our own sexuality, and relate to our
Christian counselors also need the church for the support and spiritual encouragement of our clients. I know a counselor who makes three requirements for all of his counselees. They need to see him for their weekly counseling sessions, be involved in some kind of small group, and attend at least one worship service a week. My friend believes that his counseling is more effective and long lasting when his clients are anchored in a local church. For some counselors this may not be feasible, but the churches impact for good in the lives of clients cannot be overemphasized. Here is therapist directory for your help.
*Winds of Change*
Our profession has come a long way since I took the freshman psychology course that eventually got me into Christian counseling. We still have a long way to go but the winds of change are blowing. Christians are recognizing that Christian counselors do serve a purpose especially when problems arise that common sense care giving does not seem to help. Counselors, in turn, are realizing that we need the church, desperately. Churches and counselors are in partnership like never before. This is the way it should be. I suspect this is Gods way.