Term Paper: Counseling Skills and Their Use

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[. . .] This is not meant in the physical sense of being in the same office with the client but rather in the mental sense of understanding where the client is in his or her life at the present moment (Glancy, Regehr, & Bryant, 1998). This means that a counselor must not moralize to a client and must not judge that client for what the client has done or said (Glancy, Regehr, & Bryant, 1998). Instead, the counselor must only look at what the client sees as his or her own particular reality at that period of time and must work from there instead of trying to correct the client's perceptions about the reality that he or she has created (Glancy, Regehr, & Bryant, 1998; Marshall & Von Tigerstorm, 1999).

In order to help the client and change the reality that the client has created into something that is actually genuine, a counselor must start from the beginning point that the client gives them and be where the client is in his or her life at that particular time (Marshall & Von Tigerstorm, 1999). Only by starting from where the client is can a counselor take the client where he or she needs to go (Marshall & Von Tigerstorm, 1999). This can often be a long and difficult journey but it is one worth taking if the counselor is able to truly offer help and support for a client who has created his or her own version of reality which now must be adjusted (Marshall & Von Tigerstorm, 1999).

Situations in Which Social Workers Would Use Counseling Skills

There are many different areas in which social workers would use counseling skills. One of the newest and most fascinating one is the growing e-therapy trend (Barak, 1999). Many people are now seeking advice over the Internet for various reasons and because of this more counselors and social workers are learning the skills that they need in order to be able to help people in a new and different way (Barak, 1999). These social workers must learn Internet skills as well as counseling skills, as more of them are being called upon to utilize traditional counseling skills in the scope of their jobs (Barak, 1999).

There are regulations on social workers, however, and much of what these individuals are doing over the Internet may not fit those regulations (Pergament, 1998). This could lead to problems for the social work field and also for traditional counselors that might have the same or similar problems (Pergament, 1998). One of the main problems that these workers are facing is that the licensing requirements that they have do not always allow them to counsel or help those who are not in the same state, and over the Internet the clients could come from virtually anywhere (Pergament, 1998).

While social workers could use some of the counseling skills in virtually any situation, this particular area of the paper will focus on the e-therapy trend because it is relatively new and it therefore presents somewhat of a problem for social workers and their patients (Barak, 1999). As mentioned earlier, e-therapy is the obtaining of advice over the Internet. There are many reasons that individuals would wish to do this, ranging from agoraphobia to a lack of ability to find a good counselor near where one lives (Barak, 1999).

Whatever the reasons, more and more people are looking at doing a great deal through the Internet and even though Internet counseling has been available in some form for quite some time it is only recently that social workers have begun to use the Internet for their own counseling purposes as well (Barak, 1999). While still employing the principles of counseling that were discussed earlier, there are other issues that must be considered when social workers use the Internet for this purpose (Barak, 1999). Most of these are technical issues and do not need to be discussed here. Some, however, are legal, ethical, and moral issues, and it is important that these are addressed to facilitate an understanding of the issue (Barak, 1999).

Since social workers try so hard to enhance the well-being of individuals and to make sure that their basic needs are met, they look for and treat not only interpersonal and societal problems but individual problems as well (Barak, 1999). Face-to-face contact between a social worker and the individual who is seeking help is the most common form but now that the Internet has come about there are many social workers going into the virtual world as well (Barak, 1999). Professional regulations are very important, however, because they do not always reconcile well with online counseling and this could produce legal issues that must be looked at (Barak, 1999).

Social workers as well as psychologists, doctors, and nurses make up many of the therapists that are represented online (Barak, 1999). Many of their services vary a great deal depending on the therapists and only 18% of individuals in a study done of these online therapists consider what they do to be counseling (Barak, 1999). Most of these individuals consider their services advice or education (Barak, 1999). This is important to know because many of the individuals who only feel that they are giving advice or providing education of some kind do not look at the issue in the same way as those that believe there are performing counseling services (Barak, 1999).

Those who say that they are performing services that they consider counseling have to be aware of what counseling actually means and the principles that were discussed above regarding what counselors do for their patients (Barak, 1999). Internet therapy is becoming increasingly interesting to many people, however, because some people feel that there is a lot of stigma in going to a traditional counselor or therapist (Barak, 1999). By partaking in something such as counseling over the Internet the person does not feel that he or she must let others know in any way that this type of counseling is taking place (Barak, 1999).

Unfortunately, there are some serious drawbacks with using counseling skills in this type of environment (Barak, 1999). Being able to interpret body language, facial expressions, and the way someone vocalizes the information that they discuss is not something that can be done with this therapy (Barak, 1999). Using nonverbal cues for assessment is one of the things that many counselors do and when this cannot be done it is often hard to make sure that the quality of therapy is as high as it would be for someone who is seeing a therapist face-to-face (Barak, 1999). Another important issue is that the Internet may not be entirely secure for this type of communication (Barak, 1999). One of the most important things that social workers must get across to their patients when they counsel them is that everything that is said and done will be strictly confidential (Barak, 1999).

The Internet cannot guarantee this even though there are many ways of encrypting information and securing web sites (Barak, 1999). Even so, hackers can often get into many of these databases and when they can get into the personal and private communications between a therapist and the client there is much damage that can be done (Barak, 1999). Culture and location are also extremely important as counselors must know a great deal about their patients to be able to counsel them correctly (Barak, 1999). Not being aware of a specific cultural issue or the specific conditions that a patient is involved in can lead a social worker to counsel incorrectly and this can also be damaging (Barak, 1999). Another concern for this e-therapy is the fact that many clients cannot see the licensing and credentials of a particular social worker or counselor (Pergament, 1998).

A web site can make all kinds of claims about what type of person the counselor is or what type of information that he or she can provide but there is no actual proof that the advice the patient is getting is good advice or that be counselor is even who he or she claims to be (Pergament, 1998). The last important issue that raises a concern regarding e-therapy is that there is very little legal recourse that a patient would have if he or she found a therapist who was not providing the type of quality information that was claimed (Pergament, 1998). This largely has to do with the fact that the Internet is a very different medium and because of this the rules and regulations are not often as strict as they are for those who work offline (Pergament, 1998; Barak, 1999).

Since this is the case, those who try to sue a therapist or others who work online often find that they have no legal standing and that there is nothing they can do to recover the money that they have lost or correct some of the damage that they feel has been done to them (Pergament,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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