(In preparation for this discussion question, make sure you have read the course materials for the week: Hawkins & Clinton 9-12, McMinn 1-2, and the lectures for weeks 3-4)
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Discussion Question: Your human services counseling clients will come to you suffering at one level or another. Our lectures for the last two weeks, and both the course texts, all discuss the concept of suffering and factors guiding how to counsel those who are suffering. In fact, a careful reading of the Reading & Study materials indicates numerous concepts and principles that could apply in counseling those who are hurting.
- As you counsel your hurting clients, what you say to them will be guided by your own beliefs about the role of suffering in human experience (part of your own “theoretical map” as discussed in the lecture). Considering the numerous points that were made in the course, make a list of at least 5 concepts (“questions to ask myself as I counsel those who are suffering. . . “) that you found particularly helpful, insightful, unique, or had not thought about before. What guidelines would you particularly emphasize as you counsel hurting people? The five concepts you list should be based on the course materials, so make sure you cite the source you use.
- Then consider the following scenario. What suggestions from the course materials would you want to apply to this hurting client? Why did you choose those suggestions as most important?
You work primarily for an adoption agency but on some evenings, you volunteer your time at your church’s free counseling clinic. Your client in that setting, Jamie, was recently divorced, and expresses that she “has no direction” in life. She feels very rejected and alone. She often cries in session and in her latest session, lashed out at you, her therapist, since she was “not feeling better.” She questioned whether you were really helping her since she is still “feeling all this pain.” She left asking, “Why can’t you help remove this needless suffering?”
Replies: In your responses to at least two classmates, ELIMINATE simple “I agree” statement. Rather, comment on the strength and weaknesses of your classmates’ posts. Were the five points mentioned by your classmate truly insightful or unique, or were they obvious? Please also briefly critique the suggestions offered by your classmates in responding to the scenario.
Counseling is a process that involves the development of beneficial relationships between patients and therapists. Many individuals hold a flawed perspective that counselors focus only on providing advice to their patients. Therapists aim at contributing more to the betterment of their patients’ wellbeing by helping them to transform their behaviors, attitudes, and focus on achieving objectives (Women’s Ministries. n.d.). Counseling approaches that could help patients in suffering include training them to develop adequate social skills, using practical communication tools, and providing spiritual guidance.
As a counselor, I would coach the suffering patient about decision-making, tactics for evading grief, and career choices. This approach would help to provide her with a vision and a renewed purpose in life. The counseling initiative would also focus on grief and loss. Life may not always turn out tragic, but pain and suffering are regular aspects of human experience. The most common questions among suffering patients in therapy do not involve the amount of suffering, but the reasons that make them encounter such strife.
The questions that I would consider when counseling the suffering clients include the duration of their suffering and the time it began. The second item of consideration would be why the clients believe or perceive that they are suffering. The third question that I would like to consider is whether the experience and focus on sustaining hinder the clients’ life progression. The fourth question for consideration is whether the suffering is affecting other individuals in the client’s life. Finally, I would try to determine whether a religious approach would be beneficial for the client’s wellbeing (Gray & Wegner, 2010). When counseling patients, it is crucial to observe ethical practices such as kindness, courtesy, professionalism, and cultural sensitivity, among others. This approach would help to increase the levels of comfort and trust with the clients.
Recently, I served a client that was divorced. The patient admitted to losing focus in life and developing the feelings of social stigma. I noticed that she had impulsive behavior, such as uncontrolled crying, emotional outbursts, and aggression. The client should undergo cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help in controlling her reaction and feelings. CBT is an evidence-based approach that has been effective with numerous disorders (Hope, Heimberg, & Turk, 2010). This method would help the client to realize the negative patterns and distortions in self-image and general worldview. The model is best suited for the client because it recognizes that an individual’s thoughts influence the feelings while the external events do not play significant roles. CBT would help the client to regain purpose in her life, improve her interaction skills, and eliminate sadness.
Hawkins, R., & Clinton, T. (2015). The new Christian counselor: A fresh biblical and transformational approach. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers.
McMinn, M. R. (2011). Psychology, theology, and spirituality in Christian counseling (Rev. ed.). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House.
Gray, K., & Wegner, D. M. (2010). Blaming God for our pain: Human suffering and the divine mind. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 14(1), 7-16.
Hope, D. A., Heimberg, R. G., & Turk, C. L. (2010). Managing social anxiety: A cognitive- behavioral therapy approach: Therapist guide. Treatments That Work.
Women’s Ministries (n.d.). Leadership Certification Program: Principles of Counseling. retrieved from https://www.chumadventist.org/cmsimg/comm/Lv2_e3.p…