Counseling Methods

Caring counselors, with good counseling methods, helped me change.

One of the reasons that I became a counselor is because I have changed, from a very difficult situation to something much less difficult, and I have been able to sustain that change.

So a counseling method that I think is very important is to communicate confidence about the possibility of change.

(You can imagine my delight then when I discovered the Solution Oriented Model, where I get to do some cheering)!

Usually though, it is important to teach that change happens inside, the external world may not reflect the internal changes made by the client in thinking, feeling, and behavioral choices.

One of my early mentors in this field taught me that I need to teach the road map also, which means explain some of the theory that I am talking about.

So teaching is a counseling method. I like to teach about tools that I have some personal experience with, that I believe have a very positive impact.

Counseling Method-The Intake

But the first counseling method that you will probably experience is the intake, where forms are filled out, information is gathered, and a plan for change in behavior, cognition, and emotions is mapped out. Careful listening to what you are thinking and feeling about your problem will be the counselor's method here, and it may be one of the methods that the counselor teaches you later, as listening has some discrete steps.

The counselor will begin to develop a conceptualization of the factors which appear to serve predisposing, precipitating, and perpetuating roles in your problems and to explore these possibilities while also attempting to establish a positive working relationship with you.

As you begin to develop confidence that the counselor has a feel for your internal experience, you might find yourself relieved, and doing better. When we are heard effectively, there is reassurance in that experience.

However, if you feel angry about what you and the counselor are uncovering, that is certainly grist for the mill.

This is how the folks at SPSU describe this process;

"You might then choose to spend more time with the counselor to, process feelings and reactions to the counselor's conceptualization of the problems. Often, students feel relieved at this point. Sometimes, however, it is natural to feel upset or angry at yourself and/or others as you become more fully aware of what is going wrong or to feel increasingly frustrated about behaviors you have already found difficult to control. The counselor will try to help you deal with the feelings and reactions which arise from confronting difficult issues, and will encourage you to focus on present choices rather than to maintain a sense of shame, guilt, or anger about the past."

Most people who seek counseling do so with a natural motivation for growth and change. However, change is not always comfortable or easy and positive results sometimes take more time than expected to achieve

Counseling Methods-Treatment Options

Once you understand your problems and decide to work toward a solution, the counselor will suggest treatment options, including referral if the problem is one requiring medical support and intervention, If short-term counseling is recommended, you and the counselor will agree on a treatment plan. This may include, but is not limited to:

* Cognitive behavioral interventions, such as use of discussion, behavioral strategies, suggestions, and assignments geared toward using thoughts and behaviors to prepare for and cope with symptoms and stressors;

Those symptoms and stressors happen at the speed of the Central Nervous System though, so teaching about the hard wiring of our physiology is a helpful counseling method, as is focusing on times when the stressor was handled successfully. I am thinking of Mihalyi Czikszentmihalyi's work on Flow, Paul Ekman's work on how we respond physiologically to non-verbal cues, and Daniel Goleman's work on Emotional Intelligence, for example;

* Skills training, including effective communication and relationship skills, study skills, time management, and self care strategies;

* Use of experiential techniques like imagery, role playing, and other expressive activities especially in situations calling for resolution of emotional conflicts, such as those involving grief, loss, trauma, or illness;

* Psychoeducational interventions, in which the student is educated about personal, interpersonal, or intrapersonal psychological matters affecting himself/herself or others. This may include the provision of consultation about the problems of a third party, an explanation of relationship dynamics, or information related to a specific psychological disorder;

* Crisis intervention strategies, especially interventions in which the focus is on gaining or maintaining immediate safety, coping, and/or stability in an emergency situation.

* Mindfulness or biofeedback for stress management.

* Computerized brain fitness tools to enhance neurogenesis and neuroplasticity.

Today's counselor has at his or her disposal a huge amount of information about the human experience gleaned from brain imaging techniques not available to our predecessors even 15 years ago.

For example, Helen Fisher, Ph.D. has studied the phenomenom of successful or unsuccessful love very extensively using fMRI, or functional magnetic resonance imaging, and offers an explanation of this phenomenon from a brain function view which can really make the intensity of the experience much more manageable.

Another area that I think is important to teach clients about in the recent advances in brain fitness, and stress management.

Concepts like heart rate variability coherence, neuroplasticity, and neurogenesis were unheard of to our predecessors because they were undiscovered.

Brand new fields have emerged, like neurocardiology, roughly, the study of the hearts central nervous system, which can learn separately and make decisions about that learning.

You can learn to pay attention to your heart and operate from a heart intelligence place, and impact your feelings heart beat by heart beat, which opens up higher perceptual centers for clearer thinking and decisions.

Think about stress management heart beat by heart beat.

The name of the program is HeartMath and it is an excellent counseling method.

I also want to teach about the four pillars of brain fitness.

After all, any counseling method is going to involve the brain, and if I can impact the brains function through physical exercise, nutrition, sleep, stress management, and novel learning experiences using computerized brain fitness programs, the other counseling methods here will work even more effectively.

One computerized brain fitness program, Mind Sparke Brain Fitness Pro has been shown to increase IQ, and the research on it was just released in 2008.

The IMPACT study, of the viability of the Posit Science Brain Fitness Program was released in April of 2009, and has wonderful results for Senior Citizens.

Here are links to some of the tools I have mentioned, and which I use with my domestic violence clients. 

Brainfit for Life

The Best Omega 3 Fatty Acid for Your Brain! 


Mind Sparke Brain Fitness Pro -Software that makes you smarter.

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