My status and goals across the four foci of (a) Attitudes and Beliefs; (b) Knowledge; (c) Skills; and (d) Action across the domains of (1) Counselor Self-Awareness; (2) Client Worldview; (3) Counseling Relationship; and (4) Counseling and Advocacy Interventions
- Attitudes and Beliefs- Dr. Doan said something about how we should be people of humility as counselors this weekend in our new class with her. I believe that is the primary attitude we should have as counselors when it comes to being self-aware. Be humble and be merciful. Humble because we do not know it all, have it all together, or are done learning. Merciful because that is okay, and we need to be patient, self-compassionate, and self-loving towards who we are, where we are in our journeys, and what we need to do.
- Knowledge- I need to continue to gain knowledge about being self-aware, in tune with issues surrounding race and my own development, and personal development. The self-care I find important to me as a counselor-in-training is to keep studying and working with my chronic shame issues. I have gone through a spiritual awakening/breakdown the last few months by going down into my darkness and seeking to confront it with the Light of Christ. I am also exploring all the unhealthy emotional schemas I have. As someone going into this profession, I think a big healthy dose of self-awareness and seeking to self-actualize is really required. The dangers in not living out the wellness approach in our own lives are that we cannot sit in the darkness of others with them in order to have compassion and empathy. If we have not done the work ourselves how will we do it with others? This seems antithetical to the profession of counseling.
- Skills- I will continue to gain skills educationally that help with my own personal growth and development by being open and honest about myself.
- Action- I will put all this into action by becoming a grounded, well-rounded, competent counselor that knows my own weaknesses and strengths.
- Attitudes and Beliefs- I do not know all I could about different worldviews from religion to cultural values. I believe the best way for me to be an effective counselor is to have a positive, open, respectful attitude about the culture and beliefs of those that may come across my path seeking my help. I believe in and value multiculturalism; I do not believe one culture is better than another or worse than another. I believe that we have a lot to learn from one another and that being aware of and engaging with those different from ourselves is a vital part to not only being a great counselor, but also a great human being.
- Knowledge- I have gained so much knowledge about many cultures from the prison culture we heard presented in class to the LGBTQI culture and Arab Americans that I spoke of in my exam. I value learning and engaging with new things, new people, and other views. I actually just received my copy of Leslie Hazleton’s “The First Muslim: The Story of Muhammad” in the mail in order to educate myself about Islam.
- Skills- I will continue to hone my skills as a multicultural counselor by hopefully relocating first and foremost to an urban area with diverse populations after graduating. Doing this will give me access to seeing clients from all sorts of diverse backgrounds. I will continue to educate myself on the tenets of multicultural counseling and to continue to engage intellectually and relationally with cultures and people outside my own.
- Action- I believe multicultural competence and practice takes deliberate, purposeful action. I have to be intentional in wanting to help those outside of my own cultural background. I have to build trust with their communities, their families, their leaders. I would like to visit mosques one day in the community I chose to move to in order to learn more about Islam, get to know their religious leaders, and develop relationships. I would like to attend Gay Pride parades in order to reach out to the LGBTQI community to establish rapport and relationships with them. No matter what populations or cultural groups we have a heart to serve, we have to be intentional in doing so and building relationships with them.
- Attitudes and Beliefs- Like the benefits, the responsibilities of being a LPC are just as numerous. However, I think there is one primary responsibility that is found is this quote by the Dalai Lama, “Our primary purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.” As LPCs, it is our primary duty and responsibility to help and not harm those who come to us for guidance, counseling, and help. For me the relationship between counselor and client is one of equals. American Buddhist Nun Pema Chödrön’s quote about equals in the counseling relationship is the guiding principle for me as an aspiring counselor, “Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.” True counseling begins with recognizing that we are all in this together and we are all equal.
- Knowledge- Our responsibilities also include earning our Masters degree from a CACREP accredited institution, getting licensed, continuing education, attending conferences, advocacy, empowering our clients to take personal responsibility, following the ACA’s ethical guidelines, and working to promote the field of counseling in our communities.
- Skills- Becoming a counselor will bring about a drastic amount of personal growth and development for me. This program is centered on self-identity and self-growth first and foremost. I told Dr. Hughes in my interview that one of the two primary lenses through which I view the world is that of the mental health counseling profession. I believe doing this program will take me deeper into who I am as a person, why I am the way I am, and how I can change. It will also lead me to do that with others as well. I also have a very relational view of counseling meaning that I find this degree and profession will help me maintain better relationships that are healthy and happy. Growing through this program will aid in how I relate to myself and those around me, improve my boundaries, and develop a higher differentiation of self.
- Action- I can contribute many things to the profession of counseling. I am a very outspoken person that likes to be heard. I believe when it comes to advocacy that people such as me are needed because we are tenacious and loud, but civil and polite. I also find that my own story is one that needs to be share. I do not have the worst story to tell or the most pain-filled story, but I have overcome many obstacles in my twenty-seven years of life. I believe in the power of story to unite and encourage others. I also have an immense interest in studying and researching shame further. Dr. Brene Brown is a hero of mine, and I believe that shame, as she says, is a silent enemy in our culture. I have not heard many counselors and mental health professionals speak on the topic of shame, so my interest in it is an advantage I can bring to the table as a counselor. Having gone through a divorce and being around very civil and educated people I have become so much more open minded to the opinions of others. A symptom of my shame was how argumentative I use to be; I had to always be right because my shame told me I was nobody, but if I was right, if I could win arguments, then I was someone. I have come to see that I do not have to be that person. I am someone because as an icon of the Creator I have intrinsic value and worth. I feel this level of self-actualization has brought me to a place in life that has prepared me to begin studying counseling.
Counseling and Advocacy Interventions (A, B, C, and D Summed UP Together)
The three main professional organizations I want to be a part of are the American Counselors Association ($95 to join as a student), the Virginia Counselors Association ($25 to join as a student), and the Association for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender Issues in Counseling. The general purpose for each of those is as follows per their individual websites:
- American Counselors Association: “The mission of the American Counseling Association is to enhance the quality of life in society by promoting the development of professional counselors, advancing the counseling profession, and using the profession and practice of counseling to promote respect for human dignity and diversity.”
- Virginia Counselors Association: “VCA members in all settings will provide best counseling practices that enhance human development and functioning throughout the life span and promote public confidence in the counseling profession.”
- Association for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender Issues in Counseling: “The mission of ALGBTIC includes the recognition of both individual and social contexts presenting the confluence of race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation, ability, age, spiritual or religious belief system, indigenous heritage in order: to promote greater awareness and understanding of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) issues among members of the counseling profession and related helping occupations, to improve standards and delivery of counseling services provided to LGBT clients and communities, to identify conditions which create barriers to the human growth and development of LGBT clients and communities; and use counseling skills, programs, and efforts to preserve, protect, and promote such development, to develop, implement, and foster interest in counseling-related charitable, scientific, and educational programs designed to further the human growth and development of LGBT clients and communities. To secure equality of treatment, advancement, qualifications, and status of LGBT members of the counseling profession and related helping occupations. To publish a journal and other scientific, educational, and professional materials with the purpose of raising the standards of practice for all who work with LGBT clients and communities in the counseling profession and related helping occupations.”
These organizations provide services such as continuing education, annual conferences, seek to continue the development of professional counselors, promote the general welfare and dignity of all people via the profession, advance the counseling profession, enhance the quality of life in our society, promote public confidence in the counseling field, provide resources and journals relevant to the counseling profession or the specific group of people for whom the particular association advocates, connection professionals with one another via conferences, and development of leaders.
These organization advocate for the field of counseling via lobbying, working with Congress with issues they find important, being a voice in their local and state communities, promoting the standards to which counselors adhere. To be professionally involved with these organizations, means to be a fully participating member by attending conferences, continuing education with what each of them find important, taking part in their advocacy causes, writing essays and journals for the organizations, and promoting the organizations to counselors-in-training and the importance of joining them. My participation with any or all of these I have listed would keep me updated on current issues each is facing, the advocacy causes they champion, make me a better writer, keep me learning and growing in my profession, challenge me with new information, and provide me a massive opportunity for networking with other professionals with whom I share these organizations and their purposes. All of these would impact me as a professional counselor because they serve to improve and hone my skills. If my skills are improved and continually growing then that means the service I provide to my clients is improved and more effective upon their lives. It also serves to improve the profession because we are all but one voice among many, however, when we unite in common causes for which we are passionate our collective voice is loud, strong, sincere, and is heard.