Do You Know Which Of The Following Is Not A Characteristic Of Effective Counseling?
By Sarah Fader
Updated December 11, 2018
Reviewer Whitney White, MS. CMHC, NCC., LPC
Effective counseling, either online or in person, can be a great tool for helping people heal. Counseling can assist you during difficult times in your life or be used to treat mental illness. Talking about your problems with an experienced professional can encourage you to gain a new perspective or learn skills to help you cope with recurring problems in the long-term.
That doesn't mean that all counseling is effective, or that all counselors are good at what they do. Ineffective counseling will not have the same effects (in fact, it can negative effects), so finding the right fit is important if you want to see results.
In a multicultural society, it's also important for counselors to be culturally effective. A counselor's ability to overcome cultural barriers can have a big impact on the quality of services that their clients receive. This is just one example of what it means to be an effective counselor. There are many other things that you can look for when choosing a counselor to meet your needs.
Do You Know Which of the Following is Not a Characteristic of Effective Counseling?
- Uses Proven Methods (Yes)
Trained and experienced counselors use proven methods that are backed by science. Your counselor should be able to adequately answer any questions that you have about your treatment and concerns that you may have.
For example, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a common form of therapy used to treat a wide range of issues from anxiety and depression to addiction and relationship problems. CBT is a short-term therapy that's goal focused and aims to help the patient change problematic thoughts and behaviors. When you're receiving CBT, you know you're getting a treatment that's been studied and is effective. You should also have at least an idea of what to expect.
Some other popular kinds of therapy include:
- Psychodynamic therapy
- Interpersonal therapy
- Family therapy
- Relationship counseling
- Group therapy
In counseling, it's important to agree on a common framework of ideas so that the counselor and client can move forward using the same language and understanding each other.
- Fixes Your Problems (No)
Some people might think that effective counseling is supposed to fix all their problems, but that's not true. It's not the counselor's responsibility to make those changes happen. Plus, having someone else fix your problems won't cause the kind of long-term changes that counseling can bring. Clients need to learn how to fix their problems themselves, with help from the counseling process.
Ideally, effective counseling will give you the tools and insight you need to make the positive changes you crave in your life. That's why great counselors don't suggest solutions to your problems or tell you what you should do. Instead, they might ask you to come up with a list of things you can do to reach your goals.
A counselor might work on helping you re-think underlying thought patterns and emotions that feed your problems. Instead of focusing on your flaws or weaknesses, a counselor might help you start to focus instead on the things that you're doing right or your strengths. A counselor's job is to help without taking power from the client. The idea is to empower people to help themselves.
- Establishes Trust (Yes)
Effective counseling relationships are built on trust. As a patient, you should understand your rights. When you start counseling, you should expect confidentiality and trust that your counselor will maintain that standard. Also, you should feel safe and confident that you can share your true thoughts and feelings with your counselor without being judged.
The counseling relationship cannot be effective if you feel judged and hold back from sharing important information as a result. Similarly, it can be hard for a counselor to treat you effectively if they often catch you in lies and can't be sure if you're ever telling the truth.
It's important that both the patient and counselor are working towards the same goals. From the start, you should be open and honest with each other, and try to maintain that openness and honesty throughout the whole process. You should try to go through counseling without cutting any corners. Otherwise, it won't be as effective.
- Creates an Emotional Connection (No)
It can be hard to open up to someone with mental illness or difficult events in your life, past, and present. Therefore, it makes sense that once you find a person who you can confide in, it's very likely that you'll form an emotional connection with them.
It's important for counselors to watch out for these things and aim to keep the relationship with their clients professional. You should like your counselor, and your counselor should be kind and empathetic, but effective counseling does not involve more than a therapeutic relationship. A counselor shouldn't be your counselor and sell you a car or ask you on a date. There are rules against dual or multiple relationships between counselors and clients. Only the professional therapeutic relationship should exist.
- Facilitates Change (Yes)
Counselors may not be qualified to fix your life for you, but they are trained to guide you and help you see things in life more clearly. Your counselor shouldn't make decisions for you or act in your life on your behalf. Instead, they should listen and do their best to empower you to make important decisions or positive changes in your own life.
Sometimes you can get stuck in a frame of mind that doesn't serve you and perpetuates your problems. Counseling can help you see things in a new light. Counselors encourage you by showing you what your strong qualities are and emphasizing positive things instead of dwelling on the negative. Counseling can facilitate change by helping you let go of pain from the past that's been holding you back.
- Shows Empathy (Yes)
A good counselor is empathetic, which means that an effective counselor can find ways to relate to your situation and make you feel heard. If you meet with a counselor who seems bored by your problems, isn't interested in listening to what you have to say, seems judgmental, or makes you feel small, you can imagine that the counseling you receive from them won't be very effective.
Effective counselors can put themselves in their client's shoes and suspend judgment, even if they've never been in the same kind of situation before. Your counselor's goal should be to understand and help you reach your goals. Counselors should always aim to create a safe and understanding environment, where their clients feel free to share their problems and challenges openly.
- Places Blame (No)
If a counselor tries to blame your problems on outside factors like family, friends, and work, they're not effective. The goal should be to give you the power to handle your problems and not automatically blame other people/things. Since you can't control what other people do, the key to counseling is learning to be aware of your feelings and focus on things that you can change.
Again, the goal of counseling should be to educate you, make you feel listened to, and empower you to make necessary improvements in your life. By teaching you to blame your problems on other things, a counselor will not help you become stronger. Effective counseling should help you learn to face your problems regardless of outside obstacles, like a difficult family member or co-worker.
- Flexible (Yes)
Everyone is unique, which is why treatment should be unique too. Counselors need to admit when their first line of treatment isn't working. Sometimes counselors need to be willing to shift as things change and they learn more about their clients. If a client starts to resist treatment, their progress may come to a halt. Counselors should be flexible and find a way to get through to their client.
Treatments like CBT are relatively short, but counseling can't be rushed. Sometimes it takes time. Both the client and the counselor need to be patient and willing to work on things, even when it becomes difficult. Effective counselors acknowledge that there is no one way to get things done every time. Patients must be treated following certain guidelines, but to an extent also on a case-by-case basis.
Finding an effective counselor can help bring on big, positive changes in your life. However, there are a few warning signs of ineffective counseling that you should always look out for. Counselors are trained to follow certain rules and guidelines. For the counseling relationship to be effective, those guidelines should be followed, and the counseling relationship needs to have boundaries that aren't overstepped.