Welcome, you are about to embark on a journey into my inner world. Along the way, you will discover the following: (1) what in my background helps me to think through and identify what is right and wrong, as well as what constitutes ethical professional behavior; (2) my ethical decision-making style. My unique style of ethical decision making which reflects my early and ongoing experiences with moral values and issues which has been influenced and shaped by my parents, relatives, peers and valued adults in my life such as teachers and mentors; (3) individuals that have most impressed me and serves as a role model for me; (4) and my current developmental status and how it has and will likely impact my work as a counselor. I therefore invite you to dive into my world and may your life never be the same. Growing up in a Christian environment, I was raised to have my “…perceptive powers trained to distinguish both right and wrong.” (Hebrews 5:14) In short, I received moral values made up of strongly held beliefs based on the Bible, along with a conduct that conforms to those beliefs.
Early on, as an adolescent, I began to take a close look at the Holy Scriptures and have come to appreciate that the Bible’s counsel is based on Godly wisdom, which is far superior to human thinking. I regard the Bible as trustworthy and relevant to life in our modern world. II Tim 3:16,17 states: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” While many in the world may be lost, God’s word has helped me to think through and identify what is right and wrong, as well as what constitutes ethical professional behavior.
Like any little girl growing up in America, I grew up being influenced by cultural and 3 societal forces to embrace strategies to bolster my self-esteem. Quite a number of these strategies are of dubious worth, and others are actually dangerous and self-defeating. There came a point in my life when it was crucially important for me to embrace the idea that I am responsible for my own healing. Friends and family can surely provide support and certainly be a remedy for the ache of a lonely heart; however, they cannot be the cure that will erase past experiences that may have fostered feelings of doubt and inadequacy. Each of us has areas of vulnerability, and to some level, we all nurse old hurts. I have grown to realize that I was burdening myself with excessive expectations, which led me to feel disappointed and resentful. Mistakes are a fact of life, and we develop as we learn from them. Learning from past mistakes prevents repeated mistakes. Having such knowledge will not only help a person develop to their fullest potential and have a clearer perspective, but may help guide another person along the way.
I believe that the clearer one is about what one values and believes, the happier and more effective one will be. The assumptions we make about ourselves, about others in the world and about how we expect things to be – how we think things really are, what we think is really true and what therefore expect as likely consequences that will follow from our behavior. I have come to appreciate that many of the limitations one faces in life are self-imposed. What you believe about yourself can keep you locked behind your fears or thrust you forward into living your dreams.
“We are what we think,” taught Buddha. “Change your thinking, change your life,” said Ernest Holmes. “If you think you can, you can. If you think you can’t, you’re right,” advised Mark Twain. You become what you believe you are. I think of myself as a work in progress. I often meditate and identify old limiting beliefs that may be holding me back and 4 get rid of them starting with the right mindset.
I believe that the elements of personality, such as communication skills, influence strategies, and positive thinking, will prove to be essential for my success as a counselor; however these are secondary, not primary traits. Only basic goodness gives life to techniques. To achieve great results, I focus first on myself – my deepest motives and perceptions – and then on my techniques.
My unique style of ethical decision making
I did not have a male parental figure in my youth. I was raised by my grandmother, when faced with decisions; she would identify and evaluating each possible course of action. Also, as Jehovah’s Witnesses; she always looked to the Bible when faced with tough decisions. I would describe her decision style as: systematic style. Before making a decision, my grandmother would not only identify, but she would also carefully evaluate each possible course of action – every contemplated action would be well computed. My grandmother was a very wise self- assured woman.
My mother, on the other hand, is not so wise nor does she have great confidence in herself. Her decision making style is more on the limited procrastination style. She is not a procrastinator, however, when faced with making a moral decision, she delays the decision until enough factors have been evaluated and/or enough time has gone by for the situation to stabilize. Oddly enough, as the English Victorian polymath Francis Galton’s theory of “nature versus nurture would support, my decision making style is a combination of my mother and as my grandmother – systematic and limited procrastination style.
According to studies, “…behavioral evidence suggests that human behavior is the result of complex dynamic interactions between 5 genes and the physical-experiential environment, operating at many dimensions from the molecular to the cultural, social, and historical” (Coll, C. & Bearer, E. 2004). As a result, when making a moral and ethical decision, I usually first carefully evaluate each possible course of action, prayerfully meditate on the matter, and arrive at a wise and sound decision. Although, delaying of a decision may not always be the route to take when the obvious decision is to take immediate action, it can prove to be a very wise manner to approach decision making.
Although I agree and believe that, as humans, we inherit our unique style of ethical decision making which reflects our early and ongoing experiences with moral values and issues which has been influenced and shaped by parents, relatives, peers and valued adults in their lives, I also believe that divine principles are our best guides to making sound decisions. We have been blessed with the natural God-given ability to think and reason, making better and more productive decisions requires that we learn to use our internal resources in order to maximize our creative capacity and avoid being dominated and/or governed by external control. Like a potter, we choose the clay and we determine the appearance of the finished product. Thus, making morally and ethically sound decisions is contingent on whether or not we inject consciousness into this dynamic and use it wisely to make the best choice we can at the moment of choice.
The insights that I have amassed from my grandmother and mother has greatly influenced my ethical decision making process. As I matured, I have come to appreciate the strength and courage that came along with the bumps along the way; therefore, I was able draw from the positive qualities I developed. Thus, I became more attuned to what I should do, think, and feel 6 and then follow through. As Ruthellen Josselson underlines in her book, Revising Herself, “The course of women’s lives is a dialectic between extremes, between risk and rigidity, adventures and security, coming to rest in a sense of balance and reshape themselves, striving for harmony of the parts, responding to the exigencies of living in society, and creating a whole where the pieces best fit” (p.238).
I have finally emerged into the strong adult woman that I am today. I have faced many crises and have endured the necessary torments for growth. I have explored and opened myself to experience changes. As a result, I am more insightful, and more self- aware. When I forty, better late than never, I had grown to be less in thrall to security and I learned to recognize my strengths and abilities, as well as my weaknesses. No longer am I that brittle little girl in search of approval of my decisions.
During my undergrad at Union University I was quite captivated by Dr. Kenneth Silvestro. His introduction of himself, his personal interest, the in-depth knowledge, and confidence he displayed in the field of psychology overwhelmingly intrigued me. And he presented himself so remarkably well during “round robin” that I felt bewitched. Just when I thought that it could not get any better, a petite, frail looking woman with an amazingly calming voice began to speak. The voice was no other but, the one and only, Blythe Richfield’s, another instructor. From that moment on, I was in a stage of total confusion as to which instructor I wanted to work with. I, therefore, made it my aim to attend both of their presentations. Each one was captivating and inspiring to the point of immediate gratification and personal transformation, similar to a caterpillar evolving into a butterfly. The power and sheer 7 beauty of their presentations made a lifelong impact on me – piercing my soul and filling holes.
I found myself circling campus repeatedly expressing my sentiments to everyone, muttering: “Ken is the man, but Blythe is my soul sister,” as if I were rehearsing for a role. Although beneficial, this procedure was quite difficult for me. Ken knew that I, with every ounce of my being, wanted to work with him. Nevertheless, I found myself pushing him away as he tried to salvage our mutual initial connection. Finally, I decided that Blythe would be my first and he would be my second choice. The hour had arrived; after what seemed forever, the “who is working with whom” list was posted. Who would I have the privilege of working with? My guts instinct indicated Ken, but my heart wanted Blythe. Another student and I decided that we would not check the list; we would simply show up at Blythe’s study group.
As we proceeded to follow through, out of Dewey’s doors comes Blythe. “Did you hear?” she blurted, “you have Ken.” Needless to say, the news had an emotional effect on me. However, for the past week, the phrase on campus was “TRUST THE PROCESS”. From that moment on I had no option but to “TRUST THE PROCESS”. Blythe and I hugged and expressed our sorrows. Before we parted she softly said; “He fought for you. We both wanted you, but he won”. Upon hearing this, I was both flattered and humbled. For, never in my life had a man fought for me, much less wanting to work with me to such degree that he refused to back down. I, therefore, felt guilty that I did not fully take advantage of the opportunities, when presented, to spend more time familiarizing myself with Ken instead of pushing him away. As I had hoped and imagined, Ken was phenomenal, I was definitely not
disappointed. In fact, the experience was quite impressive and surpassed my expectations.
Entering my first 9 8 semester with Ken was incredibly enriching. First, with his guidance, I developed a study that resulted in increasing my awareness and understanding of the developmental process of childhood and play therapy, as well as of me. Working with Ken had provided me the opportunity to experience, first hand, what qualities are needed in working in the field of psychology. Ken is open, accepting, and willing to go out of his way to informed and aware of diverse cultures, social and ethnic groups. He is my role model and an inspiration. During my last semester, I came across Barry Schwartz’s book, The Paradox of Choice. According to Schwartz, decision-making is not as complicated as we might envision. In fact, one simply needs to be aware and anticipate the effects of one’s choice in order to take proper actions.
Notice his declaration on the subject: “Simply by being aware of the process, we can anticipate its effects, and therefore be less disappointed when it comes. This means that when we are making decisions, we should think about how each of the options will feel not just tomorrow, but months or even years later” (p. 178). In this book, Schwartz has help me to appreciate that, along the way of building one’s decision making style, there are many crossroads and an abundant number of choices to make and making wise decisions is a sign of healthy adult development. Knowing that certain choices will foster certain results will prove to be an asset to you when one is faced with making a moral and ethical decision. In general, being aware of the choices you have made in the past will allow you to anticipate certain outcomes. Proportion is the final secret, 9
[But] to espouse it at the outset
Is the to ensure sterility. E.M Forster, Howards End.
My Current Developmental Levels
Throughout my life, I have faced many trials. On the surface, everything appears to come easy to me. Over the years, however, I have had to overcome many inner obstacles. It has taken years of efforts and endurance, goaded by my Christian- trained continuum of right and wrong, for me to reach where I am today. And over the years, there have been times where my future character was decided in a conflict between fear and morality. Currently, somehow, everything is falling into place – my prayers are being answered, my determination and persistence are finally paying off, and my decision making has matured to a level that I am quite proud of.
I am more certain of myself; I have become more open to myself as well as to the world around me. As a result, I have a greater awareness of the possibilities in my world, bringing me to have a clearer picture of what it will take to become a successful counselor. Like many, I have always wanted a sense of competence in order to have a degree of confidence in my decision making. I have discovered that the process of achieving this is something of an enigma and is often a lifelong quest.
In order to foster and facilitate further development, I intend to continue learning from others and my personal past and future experiences. Along the journey, I have learned that life has a way of showing us which path to take, but only if we pay close attention to the signs on the road.
As a future counselor, I must respond to the ACA Code of Ethics’ dictation of roles and proper behavior, and as I proceed, I evolve into the adult I see reflected in the mirror. Along the way, I will encounter the need to revise my choices as an attempt to develop to my fullest potential and to succeed in finding our unique decision making style. Humans have found their way to the moon, but we have yet to find a concrete route to decision making. We have built complicated machinery, yet been unable to simplify our journey. Each individual must create his or her tableau of life by searching within the inner core – the deeper strata of self – where identity resides.
Interestingly, each story is unique, and each unique story is interesting. What is even more fascinating is how the story came about. Life has brought me to shift toward greater courage and less need for rigidity and control. Silencing parts of my inner self, keeping a firm hold on impulse and emotion were too great of a cost to pay for being tightly organized and having firm beliefs and clear goals. As I matured and became more certain of myself, I became more open to myself as well as to the world around me. As a result, I have a greater awareness of the possibilities in my world, bringing me to have a clearer picture of achieving my goals in both my personal and professional life.
Corey, G. (2007) Issues and ethics in the helping professions. (8th ed.). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Co
Josselson, R. (1996). Revising herself: The story of women’s identity from college to midlife. New York: Oxford University Press.
Schwartz, B. (2005). The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less. New York: Harper Perennial. Coll, C. & Bearer, E. (2004). Nature and Nurture: The Complex Interplay of Genetic and Environmental Influences on Human Behavior and Development. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.