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1. The aim of the practical
The aim of the practical was to become aware of one’s own values and see how they help strengthen or cause hindrances in a client- therapist relationship and to deal with value conflicts.
2. The materials used
Values Clarification Inventory, A hypothetical marital problem of a client named Joyce, evaluation of and a group discussion about our values on family, marriage and infidelity.
3. The procedure followed in the practical
The students were first told to form pairs sit opposite each other. Then they were made to read a hypothetical marital problem of a client named Joyce and answer a few questions related to the scenario and talk about it. The students were also exposed to a few statements as a form of values clarification inventory which they had to (in pairs) rate as true, untrue or undecided. This was done to explore how one’s values are likely to influence their role as a counsellor. Then, the students also discussed values and counselling in general in a larger group of 4-6 people (approximately).
4. The outcomes
After evaluating and discussing one’s values and understanding how they might interfere in the client- therapist relationship, the students understood their individualistic values which help them perceive the world differently. I personally thought that Joyce should not get a divorce and should rather try living separately for a while and start afresh to give the marriage another chance. This showed my values on marriage and how I wasn’t in the favour of Joyce getting a divorce. Secondly, I also had negative views about infidelity and thought that Joyce shouldn’t have an affair. Then the class took a value inventory test and discussed in small groups about the values that were most important to them which included happiness, justice, compassion etc. We also touched base on how comfortable we’d be while dealing with gay couples, issues like sexuality, abortion and feminism. As a result of this, the students were able to explore their own values and understand others’ values to see their effects on the advice that they gave to other people. Lastly, the students also got an insight of how they would have to deal with their value conflicts if they cause any hindrance in the relationship with their potential clients
5. Your personal comments on how this practical related to your own experience and
According to me, our own values have a significant impact on the way we perceive the world. Therefore it is important for counsellors or potential counsellors to understand their beliefs and values about things like family, relationships, spirituality, abortion, sexuality and sex role identity. But, just being aware of our values is not enough. I feel that it is essential for them to learn to deal with value conflicts that may arise while working with clients with values different than theirs.
While going through the e-readings about and while doing the practical exercises I realised that although we all think that we should be non judgemental towards other people, we often don’t think what we’ll do if our clients’ views are completely different from ours. Before the practical, I never contemplated on my values and beliefs about families, marriage and infidelity and did not think about the potential value conflicts that I may have with my clients. This practical proposed a hypothetical situation which involved the marital problems a woman named Joyce was having. After reading the scenario, we were made to answer a few questions during which I was exposed to my own views about divorce and how it should be the last option one should explore. I also realised that I had negative views about infidelity and that I thought that loyalty, trust and independence are the most important in a marriage. I realised how it was influencing Joyce by giving her suggestions that reflected my own values. This was causing a hindrance by not allowing me to empathise with her. This may have occurred because she was not a real person, but I am inclined to believe that my values were telling me that what she wanted to do was morally wrong.
Hence, this practical gave me an insight of my own beliefs; challenging and motivating me learn to deal with value conflicts. It has made me realise that to become a non- opinionated helper/ counsellor, I will have to fully understand my values and beliefs to help another individual by trying to see the situation with their eyes. I now want learn how to have a more open-minded approach towards others values without having to embrace them. On the other hand, I also thought that having same values and beliefs as the client’s may also help strengthen the client- therapist bond making it easier for both of them to work with each other as the client will be more comfortable sharing the way he/she feels and the therapist can use their own experiences and views to help the client.
6. Its relevance in a counselling/psychotherapy context. Use theory from the lectures, textbooks, and practical to comment here.
Values govern an individual’s goals, attitudes and preferences (Mickleburgh, 1992) Ideally, a counsellor should be comfortable with a client whose beliefs and values differ from his/her own, but it is not always possible and sometimes even difficult to be non judgemental (Geldard, 1993). To overcome this problem, one needs to understand and embrace their own values to avoid conflicts with their clients. Counsellors need to be in touch with their values as their behaviour is guided by their belief system (Gerner , 2014). Clear values are necessary because differences in actions and beliefs may give rise to cognitive dissonance (Mickleburgh, 1992) and as a counsellor it is vital to be in a stable state of mind to be able to help clients efficiently.
Several studies have shown that a counsellor’s values have a significant influence on their clients’ values (Mcleod, 2013). It is not right to force our own opinions and beliefs on others even if it is unintentional. Therefore, a counsellor’s main aim should be to understand their client’s values and help them understand themselves better. (Geldard, 1993)
When counsellors’ values cause hindrances in a client- therapist relationship, they are usually blinded by their own beliefs and are not able to empathise with their clients. According to Geldard (1993) Empathising with the client is an essential part of therapy to be able to see the problem from the client’s point of view. After having identified the difference in opinions, the counsellor should be comfortable in sharing his/her own thoughts and feelings about the topic whenever appropriate or necessary (Corey & Corey, 1998). Counsellors should not give opinionated suggestions which are in favour of their own values or give advices just to socially conform their clients. They should rather focus on the clients’ needs, beliefs and values while helping them.
Knowing themselves better will enable the counsellors to understand their clients better and empathise with them. If the counsellors are fully aware and are comfortable with their philosophies of life and their values, they will not feel threatened or be compelled to defend and justify their own values. The clients’ problems and situations can then be construed in a way that does not make either the client or the counsellor uncomfortable, whilst protecting the client-therapist relationship between them.
This practical has enabled the students to gain a clearer insight of their own values and given them and opportunity to understand the things mentioned above. In conclusion, it can be said that counsellors need to know their own values so that they are able to respect others’ values and are not sidetracked by attempting to sort out their own confusions about values (Geldard, 1993).
Corey, M. S. &Corey, G. (1998). Becoming a helper. Pacific Grove: Brooks/Cole.
Geldard, D. (1993).Basic personal counselling: a training manual for counsellors. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Gerner, B. (2014). Values and Counselling [Power point slides]. Retrieved from https://lo.unisa.edu.au/mod/resource/view.php?id=63648
Mcleod, J. (2003).An introduction to counselling. Maidenhead, Berkshire [England]: Open University Press.
Mickleburgh, W. E. (1992). The Australian and New Zealand journal of psychiatry; Australian And New Zealand Journal Of Psychiatry.The Australian And New Zealand Journal Of Psychiatry, 26 (3), pp. 392- 393.