Counselor Education Teaching Philosophy Research Paper

Pages: 7 (2728 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 7  ·  Level: Doctoral  ·  Topic: Teaching

¶ … Counselor Educator

In many ways, counselors are educators. They take tools for communication and growth and attempt to teach those goals to a diverse group of people in settings that are designed to increase dialogue and communication in an effort to enhance problem-solving. Therefore, for the counselor, dialogue is essential; the counselor has to learn from the client in order to address client needs and the client has to learn from the counselor. Likewise, in counselor-education, dialogue is important. Counselors in training will vary in ability, background, and intuitive knowledge. A teaching paradigm that fails to take into account individual differences will be destined for failure, because it will fail to model a give-and-take communication process. "Without dialogue there is no communication, and without communication there can be no true education" (Friere, 2000). Therefore, the counselor-educator must always keep the importance of communication in mind when teaching future counselors.

Major Learning Theory

To some, the major learning theory that I endorse will seem immature because of its association with teaching young children. However, those techniques that are effective with young children tend to be the techniques that are effective with older populations as well, and can be used quite successfully if tailored in an age-appropriate manner. The major learning theory that I endorse in training counselors is the Montessori Method. This method emphasizes the importance of active learning as compared to passive learning, and requires a hands-on approach and direct experience (Jeynes, 2007). Given that counseling is a hands-on profession and also requires a hands-on approach, using this teaching style to transmit skills to future counselors not only gives them the appropriate information that they need to be successful, but also develops a good tool kit for the future counselor.

In order to understand why I would choose the Montessori Method, it is important to understand my idea of leadership and how that relates to teaching. I believe in transformative leadership and that effective teachers should also be transformative. Teaching should transform the way that people look at the world, and I strive to be a charismatic and transformational teacher. A charismatic teacher uses charisma to persuade or influence their students (Fairholm & Fairholm, 2009). Furthermore, transformational leaders look forward to opportunities for change, rather than avoiding change. They seek to inspire idea in others, and transform their thinking about situations. In many ways, transformational leaders challenge the status quo. Looking at that statement, one sees a thumbnail description of the counseling profession as a whole, since, at the most basic levels, the challenge for practicing counselors is to help people transform their lives; people do not seek counseling when things are fine. Therefore, using this approach is important because it engages students, but it also models the type of behavior that they should use in their counseling practices. It is another way to teach by doing.

Challenges in Producing Effective Counselors

The very nature of counseling means that it is an imperfect science. Human beings are so incredibly diverse that an approach that is very successful for most clients may be unsuccessful for other clients. Furthermore, there may be little that the counselor can do to really understand the potential efficacy of an approach for the individual client other than trying that approach. To many people, this is a fatal weakness in counseling; if results cannot be guaranteed with a certain treatment, then the treatment must be invalid. However, it is actually a phenomenon that frequently occurs when health and science interact; after all, chemotherapy does not work on every cancer patient, either. It is important to acknowledge the limitations of counseling and consider some of the uncertainty and confusion counselors/teachers confront on a daily basis in order to teach counselors how to approach their clients, how to recognize success, how to recognize failure, and how to reframe that failure as an opportunity to try something different.

Perhaps the greatest challenge in producing new counselors is that counseling is simply not something that can be learned without practicing it. Counselors must have opportunities to try their skills, and every attempt to try skill introduces another opportunity for potential failure. The only way for a counselor to determine if a theory is useful or effective for him in his personal practice is to use it and see if it works. This can be a daunting process for new counselors, who may be seeking magic-bullet type solutions and find themselves depressed or discouraged by the fact that the field is so imprecise. Most people who desire to be counselors are, by their very natures, helpers, and it can be difficult for helpers to accept the fact that there will be scenarios in which they simply will not be effective at helping people.

Another challenge in counselor education is helping students be aware of the impact of society on their own personal beliefs, behaviors, thought-patterns, stereotypes, and preconceived notions. The United States is a white-male dominated society and has been since its inception. To pretend that legal or factual equality has been achieved is to ignore some of the more basic problems that many people seeking counseling may need to address prior to finding resolution for their issues. Therefore, the counselor-educator must focus on multicultural and diversity issues. "Multicultural" represents various racial-ethnic groups, which include, African-Americans, Native Americans, Asian-Americans, Hispanics and Latinos and Whites (Sue et al., 1992). Diversity issues surface because when one attempts to single out from a majority population through characteristics (handicapped, gay/lesbian/transgender/transgender / older/younger, male/female (Fong, 1994). Understanding diversity and multiculturalism is important in teaching counselors, but it is also important for potential counselors to have an understanding of these perspectives.

Key Solutions to those Problems

Because counseling really cannot be learned without practicing it, there is a danger that students will find themselves bored and distracted when learning underlying theory and approaches to counseling, but this underlying knowledge is as important, if not more important, than the hands-on learning that counselors must do. Therefore, one of the biggest challenges that counselor-educators face is keeping their students engaged up to the practice segment of their education. One way to do this is to make sure that students are aware of the practical uses of the information being taught (McKeachie & Svinicki, 2011). This helps encourage preparationand participation by students (McKeachie & Svinicki, 2011).

Furthermore, it is critical to openly address diversity and multicultural issues, particularly because different students will have different ideas of what those terms mean and how they should be handled in practice. In fact, the meaning the majority group places on the definition of "diversity" tends to be restricted and exclusive; the meaning the minority group gives to "diversity" tends to be expansive and inclusive (Unzueta & Binning, 2009). Many people want to make easy assumptions about people based on race and history, when emerging and changing culture may mean, for example, that a poor, white, gay male is far more alienated from mainstream society than an affluent, African-American female. Therefore, it is critical for the educator to examine diversity issues from the context of traditionally understood categories of multiculturalism, but also many others, such as socioeconomic class, sexual identity, trauma, unique physical characteristics, family, and community (Lee, 1997).

Personal Philosophy of Counselor Education and Learning Styles

My personal philosophy of counselor education is authentic, transformative visionary. I believe that education is one of the most critical callings a person can experience, and I believe that true educators can best be described as visionaries. Teaching is, at its essence, a way of communicating a vision to others, and transforming them in the process. As a teacher, I want to inspire ideas and inspire a desire to learn in the students. I also want to make students responsible and accountable for their own learning (Palmer, 2007). Furthermore, I feel like authenticity is a critical component for a counselor educator. I need to be myself and be real with my students, who, in turn, must be real when interacting with their clients. Authenticity is critical because authentic people can admit their faults, their mistakes, and their weaknesses, which is critical in counseling. Counselors have to embrace the idea that their careers are hopeful ones, rather than certain ones, and that there are gaps in knowledge about human nature. To me, this is the authentic approach; acknowledging that counseling and counselors are imperfect.

Techniques for Teaching Counselors in Training

In many ways, teaching counselors in training is the same as teaching any other learner, and using standard teaching methods is important. Professors should encourage reading as active learning, explaining the purpose of the reading and demonstrate how the reading complements other assignments (McKeachi & Svinicki, 2011). In fact, encouraging all components of active learning is critical: students should be encouraged and challenged to "think deeply" and beyond the surface levels of the text. Furthermore, as an instructor, I can bring the text to life by pulling in elements from outside the text and showing how the… [END OF PREVIEW]

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