Counseling the Importance of Professional Term Paper

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Counseling

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Term Paper on Counseling the Importance of Professional Counseling Professional Assignment

Professional counselors play an essential role in helping individuals achieve their full potential. Experts in any one of a number of fields from education to career to personal growth, today's professional counselors provide services that are distinct from those offered by psychologists and social workers. Making use of the principals of mental health, psychology, and human development counselors apply strategies of cognitive, affective, and behavioral strategies that enable their clients to overcome their problems and reach their goals. (Sheeley, 2002) Professional counselors differ from other mental health professionals in that they work directly with those needing help by giving advice that is narrowly tailored to their specific needs and problems. Counseling, unlike psychology, is not about uncovering and remedying a profound inner problem that poses a supposedly "global" dilemma for the client. Nor is it specifically concerned with the providing of social services to the client as in the case of social work. An emphasis on emotional intelligence is perhaps the core value that sets counselors apart from members of allied professions. (Martin, Easton, Wilson, Takemoto & Sullivan, 2004) it is the goal of the professional counselor to truly understand the individual, as an individual, to empathize with her or him, and to use that emotional connection as a tool to discovering the proper and appropriate strategy for improving the situation. Through his or her deep understanding of the client, the professional counselor comes to know which particular approach will work best, as well as what specific problems are encumbering the individual and keeping her or him from her or his desired, or best, aim. Too frequently, however, the professional counseling approach is challenged by the members of the other professions i.e. psychology and social work. Psychologists and social workers feel that their strategies alone can be as effective as those of the professional counselors. Yet, as their approaches lack the kind of emotional and holistic approach of the professional counselor, they would be unable to reach individuals in quite the same way. It is essential; therefore, that professional counseling be defended as a vital and distinct profession. Professional counseling must be protected from the inroads of psychology and social work, its unique gifts allowed to come through for the benefit of all.

Given the potentially adverse effects of a loss of professional independence, it is imperative that professional counselors begin to advocate for themselves and their profession. Such advocacy helps both their clients and themselves by advancing necessary causes and emphasizing the benefits derived from professional counseling. Nonetheless, advocacy can present problems of its own. Many of these problems are intrinsically problems of perception, as it easy for advocates to appear to be advancing their cause for strictly selfish ends. (Myers, Sweeney & White, 2002) Advocacy can be extremely useful; however, in getting out the message of counseling and helping to further define it as a profession distinct from other mental health disciplines. As pointed out by Cynthia J. Osborne, advocacy can serve as one of the ways of reducing stress in counselors themselves as, through advocacy, the unique and salutary goals of the field are constantly rearticulated and so kept alive in the minds and day-to-day activities of its practitioners. (Osborn, 2004) the various concentrations within the field of counseling can also benefit from an increased emphasis on professional advocacy. Mental health counselors, for example, can further define the specific scope of their expertise by advocating the special capabilities, training, and goals of their area of expertise. M. Carole Pistole and Amber Roberts note that without further advocacy many who specialize in this field tend to be pigeon-holed merely as professional counselors who happen to focus on mental health - in other words that this specialization is merely incidental to their work, and not at its heart. (Pistole & Roberts, 2002) This kind of advocacy can go hand-in-hand with the certifications and other academic qualifications that help to further define the profession. (Pistole & Roberts, 2002)

Anything that tends to explain the significance and ideals of professional counseling can only assist counselors in doing their jobs better. Anything that helps counselors to perform their tasks better and more efficiently will only serve the interests of their clients, and of society as a whole.

Better definition of what constitutes the profession also encompasses improved definition of the ethics and values that underlie counseling concepts and strategies. Advocacy in these areas, as well, can be instrumental in bringing about positive change. Adam L. Hill reminds professional counselors that ethics is about much more than conformity to mandated behavioral standards

To behave ethically one must certainly be cognizant of potential harms that may be done to clients." (Hill, 2004) Ethical performance is of the utmost importance in advancing the goals of the profession. By being attentive to the real needs of clients, by being true to one's promise to help others in ways that genuinely do help them work through their problems and achieve their goals, one is demonstrating that one is employing the skills and techniques of a legitimate profession. Clients will be more likely to seek assistance from counselors if they believe they are being treated properly and appropriately. They will support professional counselors in their work. Furthermore, by advocating the special and unique ethics of the profession, counselors also further set themselves apart from psychologists and social workers by highlighting the benefits that can be accrued only through counseling strategies, as opposed to other mental health techniques. Kenneth R. Thomas and Stephen G. Weinrach praise advocacy when it helps individual clients, but they also call for further research to be done on the real benefits of professional counseling as opposed to other forms of assistance. They underscore the fact, that a lack of serious research into the subject hampers the ability of professional counselors to defend and define themselves and their work. (Weinrach & Thomas, 2004) Armed with verifiable research on the advantages of counseling, members of the profession can better defend themselves against the inroads of other practitioners. They can also use this research to better inform those in need of the help available to them.

Advocacy for the profession of counseling leads naturally to the idea of advocating for professional solidarity. Awards and other forms of professional recognition can go a long way toward demonstrating the utility of the profession, and can help bring counselors together to advance common causes. A significant step toward recognizing the achievements and professionalism of counselors was taken on April 29, 2001 when the Executive Committee of the American Counseling Association decided to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the group's founding the following year. (Sheeley, 2002) by memorializing the accomplishments of the organization, its leadership honors the contributions of those who have permitted counseling to develop further and to advance in new directions. The steady stream of past successes sets the pace for future outreach and enrichment:

Professional association members rely on their leaders to forge ahead, to modify existing governance structures, if necessary, and to continue the process of renewal. Wise leaders avoid the-mistake of tearing down strong old structures and replacing them with weaker foundations. ACA's history has taught them that a strongly united association will be able to withstand any divisive elements. (Sheeley, 2002) study by James M. Benshoff and David a. Spruill determined that counselor educators at colleges and universities gained much by being rewarded with sabbaticals for successful service.

Their research revealed that counselors would tend to use their time for personal and social enrichment - both areas of extreme importance to successful counseling. (Benshoff & Spruill, 2002) in this example, rewarding counselors leads directly to an enrichment of the life experiences that are so essential to good counseling practice. Sabbaticals as rewards can also produce dividends in the form of concrete academic research with counselors delving further into the theoretical and practical applications of their work. (Benshoff & Spruill, 2002)

The message sent by the awarding of sabbaticals is that good use of time, good practice of one's profession can be rewarded with more time to further enhance one's skills, and to look more deeply into those areas - social and familial - that are of importance to the counselor. By becoming a better person one becomes a better counselor.

Again, the various specializations within the field of professional counseling can benefit from individual recognition. Such recognition, in the form of formal awards and encouragement, can further stimulate study in these fields, and urge practitioners onward toward a deeper understanding of their work. Native American women have applauded recent changes in the American Counseling Association Code of Ethics that permit an increased awareness, and acceptance of, societal collectivism, such as is found among many Native American peoples. (Awe, Portman & Garrett, 2005) Testimonials by groups of individuals - and collectives too - that have actually benefited from the work of counselors can represent an enormous lift in the collective spirit of the professional counselors themselves. The Native American women… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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