Professional Counseling Services in Calgary Alberta

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 Calgary.

therapy for marriage

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.

Marriage Counseling - How to be the Spiritual Leader in your home

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 Calgary – 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.

genuineness

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.

seating arrangement

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.

empathy

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.

warmth

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.

Is Marriage Counseling Needed? a Case Scenario

In our Marriage Counseling Practice we often see couples whose In-Laws are causing problems in the marriage. Whether it is too close, or not close enough, In-Laws can turn into Out-Laws very quickly.

The problems don't always begin the same way. Sometimes there has been no "individuation" (becoming separate) on the part of the adult children. The Bible instructs couples to leave and cleave in order to become one flesh. This is not possible if the adult children do not separate in a healthy way from their parents. The parents may or may not be trying to hang on, but the results can be the same.

When adult children maintain a dependence on their parents after marriage, it interferes with the husband wife relationship. Even when it is disguised as asking for advice from a parent it can cause a division between the couple. If the wife looks to her father for help in making decisions, the husband can feel totally disrespected. He may feel that he (the husband) is not the primary male figure in the marriage.

Likewise if the husband is overly close with his mother the wife is unable to assume the role of nurturer and the number one woman in his life. This is especially true if the couple is living with the parents. This keeps them still in the role of a child.

When adult children receive money from their parents the help often comes with some sort of "strings" attached. This may be overt or covert. Maybe nothing is even said about it.

When parents disapprove of the "in-law "adult child, it puts their child in the middle between the parents and their spouse. The adult child's allegiance should always be to their spouse; number one after the Lord.

A case in point would be when Mary's parents are speaking disrespectfully about Mary's husband Tom behind his back. Rather than defending Tom, Mary should explain to her parents that it's not ok to talk about Tom that way. If Mary's parents continue, Mary should walk away.

If Mary's parents are disrespecting Tom in front of him Mary should get between her parents and Tom and boldly say, "If you continue talking about Tom this way, we will leave."

It is important for couples to keep their "marriage business" private. They should not be discussing their marital issues with their parents, family or friends.

These discussions should be limited to their Pastor, Christian Counselor, or one trusted friend that both spouses' agree on.

We recommend the book "Boundaries in Marriage" by Henry Cloud and John Townsend.

As the Bible says in Genesis 2:24, therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. Of course this applies for women as well.

In our Marriage Counseling practice, Marriage Rescue Associates, we regularly see couples who need help restructuring the family dynamic in order to "leave and cleave".

God's Blessing on your marriage. Let it be healthy and happy.

About Marriage Rescue Associates | Christian Marriage Counseling

With over 23 years of experience, Marriage Rescue Associates have discovered many effective methods for helping couples restore their family and marriages. As Christian Marriage Counselors, Marriage Rescue Associates can help construct solutions to rekindle love and rebuild trust that has been torn down by endless conflict, indifference, and unmet needs.

Don't let your marriage or family become another statistic when you can actually do something to change it.

Seek out Marriage Counseling from an experienced Marriage Counselor that understands your situation and makes you feel comfortable with them.

To learn more about Marriage Rescue Associates, visit us online at www.marriagerescue.org


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