The main purpose of writing this essay is to analyze and highlight some personal values of a counselor that can affect the quality of maintaining effective therapeutic relationship with the client. The writer agrees to the statement “it is impossible for a counsellor to maintain a position of neutrality.” The views and critical approaches of the writer are expressed in the following essay.
Everyone has his/ her personal values, beliefs, biasness and preferences. Personal values have great influence in relation to human decision-making. Each individual has a different set of personal values because everyone has a different set of life experience, environment and family background. Values are essential to our life as it acts as a form of catalyst to guide our life, shape our behavior and reflect our personal moral standards.
For example, an individual who uphold the values of trust, sincerity and honesty, he/she will want people to have faith in them. In addition, this group of individuals would yearn others to be sincere in terms of friendship and things they do. It could also be in a form of ability to perform certain task with full of sincerity without hoping for any credits. (All of us preserve values which produce high standards, portraying good image to our loved ones, self and ultimately, bringing good things towards the society.
Personal Values & Its Origins
The writer has personal values that include being filial, devoted, responsible, and establishing good relationship with his loved ones. In certain circumstances, these personal values of the writer may differ from the client’s values, resulting in conflict and resistance. (It creates relationship difficulties with the clients.) This may prevent the writer from forming a therapeutic relationship with the clients.
One example would be the writer, who is a religious person, dealing with clients who have a character totally opposite of him. Since he is religious, the writer is cautious with his act and reframe from situations leading to sins. For instance, if the writer were to counsel clients facing issues such as abortion, gambling, divorce and intentional single parenting, it may lead to conflicts due to differing personal values. The writer heavily criticizes these acts because the client is irresponsible, inhumane, and he considers such acts as uncivilized. Regardless of the client’s ethnicity / religion, conflicts may bring up feelings of anger, uneasiness and negativity towards the client.
The author’s emotions will be affected due to the writer being intolerant of such acts. It is due to the writer’s strong religious values that cause his emotions and cognitive ability to be disoriented. As he is not in the right state of mind to think effectively, the writer’s focus is affected. The level of empathy and being congruent become affected because the counselor’s value does not align well with his client’s values. As a result, the writer has the urge to judge the clients and become biased. Such emotions can be overwhelming, leading to the writer’s unconscious skewed judgment and possible ill feelings formed of these clients.
Dealing with countertransference
In addition, it is equally of utmost importance to recognize our own unresolved personal issues that feeds into problematic behaviors with clients .Take the following as an example, a client who wants to change into a filial person after committing various sinful acts. The client wants to repent. Relating back to the writer’s past experiences, he too was once a rebellious person. His parents condemned his acts that brought shame to the family name. It was tough and difficult for his parents to accept him back.
That was one incident his parents nearly disowned him after what he had done. He had been heavily insulted and judged. The writer knew it was not his fault because his motive was to only get the attention from his parents. His parents have been biased and treated him unfairly compared to his other two siblings. With the writer’s past experience, the writer has developed similar chemistry with his/her clients. The writer becomes emotionally detached with his/her client due to the situation similarity that the client had experienced. Instead of analyzing and finding out more about the client’s main issues, the writer became engrossed with the similar event portion.
He may place his focus on the filial issue. If the writer is unable to deal with his unresolved conflicts from the past or other relationships, it can affect the therapeutic outcome. It may slow down the process of gathering information that is important for the client’s needs. The writer’s focus may wander and disorientate, that can impair the quality of the session. By having the impression of showing good and positive impression to the clients, the counter transference affects the therapy session when the counselor is readily accepting the client’s opinions.
The writer’s blind spots may hinder his ability to deal with various similar behaviors shown by the clients, or the writer’s old wounds that surfaced as he works to process the client’s pain. Each client needs to be met where they are and worked with on their individual “stuff”, without interference from either the counselors’ prior experiences with clients or their personal values. On the other hand, counselors need to know what their personal thresholds are. For example, if the writer feels that he cannot work with a child abuser or a murderer without allowing his personal values affect his work with the client, he needs to take the precautionary measures to excuse himself from such clients and refer them to another counselor. Alternatively, he can seek supervision from someone who is experienced for advice.
Benefits and Limitations of Personal Values
There are some benefits that personal values can bring upon in counseling. Values by the counselor can be used as a form of communication. Based on an article entitled “Values in Counseling and Psychotherapy”, written by Patterson, he mentioned that the therapist’s values are not communicated directly to the client . The writer as a person would relate to the client as a person. In other words, the writer feels he is in a position whereby he set the appropriate tone and example to the client. When the counselor begins to demonstrate empathy, sincerity, authenticity, respect and establishing good rapport, the client would most likely mirror these values. Since the client develops more positive attitudes and the willingness to change, it establishes better communication with the writer.
The writer is able to show congruence as well as unconditional positive regard towards the client. The writer also feels that benefits would arise from working with specific groups of people based on shared values. For example, a preacher or imam who is counseling will likely do so in a way that incorporates their religious beliefs. The client would specifically go to that person for religious-based counseling. However, if the client is struggling with those beliefs, their struggles may not be heard
Managing Personal Values Every obstacle can be overcome and dealt with. In the counseling context, values are manageable which can be key to maintaining effective therapeutic alliance. One of the key factors is to establish “multicultural awareness”. Multicultural awareness increases a person’s intentional and purposive decision-making ability by accounting for the many ways that culture influences different perceptions of the same solution.
This illustrates how multicultural awareness is able to influence the counselor decision-making. Different people have different cultures. Therefore, to avoid any form of culture shock, it is therefore vital for the counselor to develop his/her level of multi-cultural awareness. The counselor has two choices: to ignore the influence of culture, or to attend to it. Both cases, cultures will still continue to influence a client’s and a counselor’s behavior with or without the counselor’s intentional awareness.Counselors are encouraged to attend multicultural knowledge training.
Some of the knowledge approaches that are commonly used are through publications, audio and visual media, and reading materials. Let’s ask ourselves this question “Why do we, as counselors, have to be multicultural competent?” One reason is to avoid any form of personal biases, stereotyping or misjudging the clients. By increasing the counselor’s knowledge about other cultures, the writer believes it would provide him with correct and sufficient information about one’s own as well as target cultures. The writer’s high level of competencies and awareness increases his self-confidence and self-realization to face the problem effectively and diligently.
It puts the writer in a position whereby he feels much comfortable to listen and understand emphatically to the client. If the writer were to deal with clients who come from different backgrounds and cultures, the writer should have the ability to handle his personal values properly in order not to offend his clients. The writer may experience some form of culture shock if he is incompetent with his awareness. The awareness competencies are essential as it enables to control the writer’s interpretation of his own knowledge and utilizing the right skills. By controlling the writer’s interpretation, he can avoid making any form of assumption and jump to conclusion. The multicultural skilled counselor does not take awareness for granted.
Is it possible to maintain a position of neutrality? The answer is no. With all these values that are lingering in the counselor’s thought process, the counselor may have difficulties. The counselor has to be natural. Hiding behind a professional façade may leads to upsetting the counseling relationship and jeopardizing the therapeutic factors in the process. Counselors who have different set of personal values can affect the therapeutic relationship outcome. A counselor who is unable to manage his/her personal values can affect the quality of relationships between people. The most common misconception among clients is that counselors tend to tell individuals what to do or choices he/she should have made.
Instead, role of the counselor is to guide the client to make use of the resources they have and help them to define their goals. Nonetheless, the counselor’s personal values can be used as a tool in creating some form of connection with the client. (We, as counselors will do our best to find the right approach for each client.) A counselor shall never make any form of assumptions. Whatever values the counselor believes in, they should never judge or be bias towards the client. In reality, differences in personal values may stand as an obstacle in establishing therapeutic relationships with clients. The fundamental of personal values in counseling is to alleviate the personal distress. An effective counselor has to be authentic, genuine, have an appreciation for cultural influences, and retain effective interpersonal effective communication skills .