How To Start A Career In Social Work

Over 600,000 social workers strive every day to make a positive impact on the lives of others. If you’re passionate about helping individuals, families, organizations, and communities, a career in social work might be right for you. Social workers find themselves helping people from all walks of life in a variety of atmospheres from schools to hospitals to prisons to nursing homes and handle casework, policy analysis, research, counseling, and teaching. They deal with issues such as poverty, abuse, addiction, unemployment, death, divorce, and physical illness. If a career switch to social work appeals to you, following is a brief background of social work basics and how to make a smooth transition.

Career Outlook: According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the social work profession is expected to grow by 30% by 2010 and is expected to grow faster than average for all occupations through 2014.

Median Annual Earnings for Social Workers (U.S., 2004)

• Child, Family, And School Social Workers: $34,820
• Medical And Public Health Social Workers: $40,080
• Mental Health And Substance Abuse Social Workers: $33,920
• All Other Social Workers: $39,440

Education Requirements: All social workers must have a bachelors (BSW), masters (MSW), or doctoral degree (DSW or Ph.D.) and complete a predetermined number of hours in supervised fieldwork. Social workers also have to graduate from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). The CSWE reports that in 2004 there were 442 BSW programs and 168 MSW programs. While some people work with only a BSW, career options are more limited, so the MSW or DSW is more common.

• BSW: Accredited BSW programs typically take four years to complete and require 400 hours of supervised field experience. With a BSW, a graduate can work in an entry-level position, such as a caseworker.

• MSW: An MSW requires two years of study and has a prerequisite of an undergraduate degree in social work, psychology, or a similar field. An MSW allows a social worker to work in a clinical setting to diagnose and treat psychological problems.

• DSW: A doctoral degree takes anywhere from 4-7 years. A DSW has extensive training in therapy and research and is qualified to teach in a university setting.

If you lack the educational or professional background, an associate’s degree may be a good place to start to see if you’re willing to make the necessary educational commitment.

For information regarding accredited social work programs, visit the Council on social work education’s website: www.cswe.org

Licensing and Exams: Social workers must be licensed. For licensing purposes, each state has its own requirements, but an MSW is usually a minimum. In addition, licensing requires 2 years or 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience.

After completing school and hour requirements, social work candidates must pass an exam. The Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) develops and maintains four categories of social work licensure examinations: Bachelors, Masters, Advanced Generalist, and Clinical. Candidates should check with individual boards to find out which examinations are appropriate for the jurisdiction where they want to be licensed.

According to the ASWB’s website:

“Each examination contains 170 four-option multiple choice questions designed to measure minimum competencies at four categories of practice. Only 150 of the 170 items are scored; the remaining 20 questions are “pretest” items included to measure their effectiveness as items on future examinations. These pretest items are scattered randomly throughout the examination. Candidates have four hours to complete the test, which is administered electronically.”

For information on state licensing requirements, see the Association of Social Work Boards website: http://www.aswb.org/education/boards/

For information on exams, visit http://www.aswb.org/exam_info.shtml

Continuing Education: As part of renewing licenses every two years, almost all states require continuing education (CE) courses. Each state’s CE requirements vary in number of hours and approved courses, so be sure to check with the board over your jurisdiction to make sure you are in compliance with CE requirements. Many courses are available online, at sites such as www.speedyceus.com, which save time and money.

Types of Licenses: There are several different kinds of licenses available:
L.C.S.W. (or A.C.S.W., L.C.S., L.I.C.S.W., C.S.W.)

The licensed clinical social worker has a graduate academic degree, has completed supervised clinical work experience and has passed a national- or state-certified licensing exam. This advanced practitioner holds a license that allows him or her to receive health-care insurance reimbursements. (National Association of Social Workers)

SSW: School social work is a specialized area of practice within the broad field of the social work profession. School social workers bring unique knowledge and skills to the school system and the student services team. School social workers are instrumental in furthering the purpose of the schools: to provide a setting for teaching, learning, and for the attainment of competence and confidence. School social workers are hired by school districts to enhance the district’s ability to meet its academic mission, especially where home, school and community collaboration is the key to achieving that mission. (School Social Work Association of America)

Other specialties and certifications, offered by the National Association of Social Workers, include:

• Academy of Certified Social Workers (ACSW)
• Qualified Clinical Social Worker (QCSW)
• Diplomate in Clinical Social Work (DCSW)
• Certified Clinical Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs Social Worker (C-CATODSW)
• Certified Advanced Children, Youth, and Family Social Worker (C-ACYFSW)
• Certified Children, Youth, and Family Social Worker (C-CYFSW)
• Certified Advanced Social Work Case Manager (C-ASWCM)
• Certified Social Work Case Manager (C-SWCM)
• Certified Social Worker in Health Care (C-SWHC)
• Certified School Social Work Specialist (C-SSWS)

Rob Zawrotny
http://www.articlesbase.com/advice-articles/how-to-start-a-career-in-social-work-72394.html

Learning Disability Related Careers

More information is being discovered about learning disabilities everyday, and with this growth in knowledge comes an increase in the number of people diagnosed with scholastic difficulties. Because of this, professionals trained in helping people to overcome their learning problems are needed now more than ever. This is a fascinating field and if you choose to take part in it, you can feel good about embarking on a career path that will enable you to help people in need improve the quality of their lives. There are a host of learning disability related jobs available, including:

1. Pediatrician
A child’s doctor is often the primary line of defense against learning problems. Nowadays, pediatric tests are able to identify possible disabilities earlier than ever before. Still, if symptoms manage to keep themselves hidden for a while, as soon as they’re discovered, the pediatrician will be the first person that a child’s parent will contact. For example, if an 18-month-old child doesn’t seem to understand or respond to his or her parent’s speech, the parent may bring this up with their pediatrician, who will first test the child’s hearing. If his or her hearing is fine, then the child will be referred by the pediatrician to a speech pathologist.

2. Speech Pathologist
These licensed professionals are trained to assess a child’s speech development and point out any potential problems. When a child is sent to a speech pathologist, he or she will be tested for the ability to speak and to understand the speech of others. If a problem is identified, the speech pathologist will suggest that he or she begin speech therapy as soon as possible, since the sooner a learning disability is dealt with, the easier it will be for him or her to make the transition to school.

3. Teacher
The right instructor for your child will have the time and the training necessary to work with learning disabled students. This may be a general or special education teacher, depending on the severity of your child’s scholastic problems. General education teachers may obtain the necessary training from workshops or classes offered by private schools, nonprofit organizations, or learning centers that specialize in working with students who have scholastic difficulties. Special education teachers are trained to work with students who may have one or more of a variety of disabilities, including cognitive, physical, and social disorders.

4. Tutor
Sometimes outside help is needed to assist your child in making the most of his or her educational opportunities. If this is the case, you may want to hire a specially trained tutor to teach your child the strategies that will allow them to interpret the information that is relayed to them in their schoolwork. Tutors may be independent contractors or work at learning centers. They might be former general or special education teachers, or they may have receive their training via workshops or classes.

Jane Saeman
http://www.articlesbase.com/education-articles/learning-disability-related-careers-134052.html

Making Your Way: Opportunities in Social Services

An old proverb says: “Progress, not perfection.” Despite advances in technology and government, social problems persist–poverty, addiction, and limited access to healthcare continue to dog our civilization. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, but you needn’t let it paralyze you. Every day, social service workers fight the good fight. If you’ve ever wanted to take some of the small steps that add up to big change, a career in social services may be right for you. Broadly speaking, social service is an umbrella term encompassing various careers. The common goal of social service work is to provide aid–legal, medical, financial, etc.–to those in need. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), community and social service occupations employed over 1.7 million as of May 2007. That number included occupations ranging from probation officers and correctional treatment specialists to social workers, school counselors–even marriage and family therapists. Growing Opportunity   One of the strongest incentives to enter a social service career is the rapid expansion of the employment opportunity. Over the next ten years, employment in many social service careers is expected to increase. Social workers, for example, should see employment increase 22 percent during between 2006 and 2016. Over the same period, marriage and family therapists, as well as substance abuse counselors should see a jump of 30 percent in employment. One social service career experiencing particularly rapid growth is geriatric care. Geriatric care may provide many career opportunities in the near future. According to Larry Minnix, CEO of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, in the next ten years, “geriatric care managers will be one of the most important roles in the whole health services delivery system.” The data on America’s rapidly expanding senior population seem to agree. By 2030, the number of Americans older than 65 is expected to reach 71 million. The Freedonia Group, a research firm, estimates revenue for elder care services should grow 6.6 percent annually through 2011.   Education for Social Service Careers   If you’re interested in pursuing a social service career, education is an important first step. Most social service careers require you to have some form of postsecondary training, and many require advanced degrees and state licensure. For example, social workers typically need a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) for entry-level positions. However, if you major in psychology, sociology, or a related field, you can also lay the academic groundwork for further career development–and college degrees, in social work. social workers in clinical and healthcare settings (five in ten, according to the BLS) typically need master’s degrees. Similarly, if you’re interested in practicing as a counselor, a master’s degree is traditionally a must. If you wish to practice in the public employ, you may also need state licensure. Whatever the job, social work can be challenging, yet rewarding. In the words of Beverly Bernstein Joie, co-founder of Philadelphia-based Elder Connections (a nonprofit practice providing home help to the elderly), “This work satisfies two parts of myself: the part that loves to take care of people and the part that wants to be a businesswoman.” And that’s what really counts. After all, the most important requirement for social service work is a strong desire to help others. If you’re also emotionally mature, sensitive to the problems of others, and capable of forming strong, courteous relationships, you may already have what it takes–and ample reason–to make your way in social service. Kelli Smith http://www.articlesbase.com/college-and-university-articles/making-your-way-opportunities-in-social-services-707834.html ————————–

 

Writing A Resume To Become A Social Worker – Tips To Write A Winning Resume!

Before taking a plunge on tips for resume writing for the post of social workers let us first look in general two or three requirements for any resume be it for social work or for any other professional fields. This will actually set the tone for more specific tips on the social worker resume and its requirements.

The foremost thing you should have in mind is that the resume should be crisp organized and clear. Supervisors and managers don’t have time to go through the long resume that contains unnecessary details. Same is true for the social work resume. For those who work in social work field do not have time to scan through the extremely lengthy and poorly written resume. By writing a complete and honest resume you make the job of managers a lot easier. The resume for social worker or for that matter resumes for any other professional post have one thing in common. They all see that the post you have applied for is suitable at your level of qualification.

The most important part in the resume writing is a proper and quality writing and presentation. This forms a major concern for the managers as they often encounter a poorly written resume. It seems that “writing” is a lost art. So for the social worker resume writing, this aspect has to kept in mind and if you have poor writing skills then you should not hesitate in taking help and tips on basic writing skills from the professionals. Then you can probably write a more complete and better resume for social worker and improve your chances for selection.

When you are writing resume for social worker then there a few points that has to be kept in mind. The foremost thing that will form an important part of the resume is the statement of purpose or objective. The statement of objective should be in the beginning. Good and successful resumes for public health and social work concentrate on desire to serve the society. So resume should also focus on the agency mission and its need and state that how the individual’s goal and desires align with that of the agency. You should not only brag about your background. This can have a negative effect.

One of the keys to a successful resume process (and one of the most difficult) is to blend personal experience and education with the needs of the company or person doing the hiring. very often these particular needs are said in the advertisements or in other cases they are handed over to the applicant.

Abhishek Agarwal
http://www.articlesbase.com/careers-articles/writing-a-resume-to-become-a-social-worker-tips-to-write-a-winning-resume-703301.html

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Social Worker Insurance – Helping You to Enjoy Your Work More

Social work is a great profession meant for those people who possess strong desires to help others and improve their lives. Mainly the role of social workers is to assist people to cope with the issues of everyday life, deal with their hampered relationships and solve their family and personal problems. Some of the social workers also conduct various researches, advocate for many improved services and engage actively in policy or planning development. There are times when the advice given to the clients, their planning processes or their services are not as beneficial as intended to be and their clients file a suit against them.

In order to deal with such cases, it is crucial that social workers insurance is availed by the social workers of all fields. The professional liability social worker insurance is available easily for both independently working social workers and for those who work in groups such as with the NGOs. This insurance protects the social workers against the claims made by their clients alleging their negligence or the failure of providing with adequate services. As it is very human to commit an error or any unintentional act, social workers need such an insurance to hold up to their dignity and social standards. This insurance coverage is also referred to as the “malpractice insurance” many times.

Good Social Worker Insurance policies can also be availed online from where the application forms can be easily downloaded, filled and submitted. This saves a lot of time and makes it easier to make decisions are going through various insurance polices available. Though it is not necessary to be related to any of the professional associations for buying the coverage but the social workers have to be duly licensed. License is very important requirement for availing social worker insurance. Once the application form is submitted, there are just some nominal formalities to be fulfilled after which the policy can be availed successfully to cover up any unforeseen claims.

Roberto Luongo
http://www.articlesbase.com/insurance-articles/social-worker-insurance-helping-you-to-enjoy-your-work-more-687888.html

South Australia as an Attractive Place to Live, Work and Study

South Australia is one of the eight states of Australia and it’s located in the south. It has four seasons; summer (Dec-Feb) that’s warm & sunny for enjoying lazy days, spring and autumn that are mild for discovering nature, while winter (Jun-Aug) is not too cold.  In summer, it doesn’t get dark until around 8 pm in Adelaide.

 

There are many attractions in SA. The Eyre Peninsula, Fleurieu Peninsula, Murrayland, Kangaroo Island and Yorke Peninsula have magnificent beaches with various water sports activities; accessible in 20 minutes by the efficient public transport of Adelaide. What’s worth visiting will be the historic towns with shipwrecks in Fleurieu Peninsula, the mountain ranges and mysterious deserts of Flinders Range, Kangaroo Island with marine life and wildlife, the caves of Limestone Coast such as the Naracoorte Caves, Murraylands’ riverside pub and houseboats for a splendid holiday.

 

The 12 regions of SA with its main attractions are:-

 

1.      Adelaide – capital of arts & cuisine, sport & shopping, beach e.g. Glenelg with dolphin cruises, The Cedars which was home of the legendary painter Sir Hans Heysen

 

2.      Adelaide Hills –serene landscapes & farmsland

 

3.      Barossa – renowned as the wine capital of Australia

 

4.      Clare Valley – countryside where traditions remain

 

5.      Eyre Peninsula – 2,000 kilometers of coastline with national parks, ancient caves and the famous Nullarbor

 

6.      Fleurieu Peninsula – beach with activities such as diving, snorkeling, surfing and trailing, as well as historic towns with shipwrecks

 

7.      Flinders Ranges – vast mountain ranges and mysterious deserts

 

8.      Kangaroo Island – beaches, marine life, wildlife, vineyards & farms

 

9.      Limestone Coast – magnificent coastline, national parks, caves e.g. Naracoorte Caves

 

10. Murraylands – water sports, riverside pub and houseboats along Murray River

 

11. Riverland – abundant citrus fruit harvests, the world class wines & the majestic Murray River

 

12. Yorke Peninsula – the splendid place for holiday with beaches & national parks

 

Adelaide, is the capital city of SA and was named after Queen Adelaide, wife of King William IV. This city was designed by Colonel William Light in 1837 with a central business district (CBD) surrounded by open parklands. Adelaide has been declared as one of the world’s most livable cities, offering diverse job opportunities and unparalleled business advantages. It’s one of the world’s least expensive cities with cost of living and price of homes that is much less than of cities like Melbourne and Sydney. Adelaide is also not a crowded city thus has abundant space for living.

 

Adelaide is a 20 minute city where one can leave for work later and arrive home earlier. Public transport is well-organized and managed efficiently to provide accessibility to various suburbs and regions all over South Australia as well as other states of Australia.  Car hires and other tour facilities are available all over for business traveling and holiday purposes. There are free transports such as the tram between North Terrace and South Terrace or the 99C Bus, and the Adelaide Connector Free Bus Service that connects the major facilities (universities, schools and shopping areas) within North Adelaide and Adelaide city centre. Other public transport available is the Tindo (the world’s first solar powered electric bus to complement the Adelaide Connector Free Bus Service. AdelaideMetro is the alternative public transport that connects the greater metropolitan region with trains, buses and trams for a fee. Adelaide’s International Airport, located only 5 km from the city centre, and is the newest and most efficient airport in Australia.

 

There is a wide range of venues and attractions in Adelaide, such as historical and cultural venues (SA Museum in North Terrace, Australian Aboriginal Cultural Gallery and Adelaide Festival Centre); recreational and national park (Botanic Gardens, Adelaide Zoo, Belair National Park) and various sports clubs. Late night shopping in large shopping mall’s like the Rundle Mall (with 800 over stores) and movies theatres, pubs and entertainment complexes are the hotspots of Adelaide. Other major shopping malls are Burnside Village (on the east); Westfield, Marion and West Lakes (on the west); Tea Tree Plaza and Modbury (on the north); and Colonnades and Noarlunga (on the south). The Marion Megaplex is the largest cinema complex in the Southern Hemisphere. 

 

Other activities include beach activities at the famous Glenelg with dolphin cruises and Hel-A-Va Jet Boats at Marine Pier. It would an exciting experience to cuddle a Koala or feed a kangaroo at the award-winning Cleland Wildlife Park, having 130 species of Australian wildlife. Other wildlife activities include Rodney Fox Shark Experience at Moseley Square. SA has more than 400 festivals a year, therefore it is known as the Festival State. Festivals that would interest me and my partner are the biennial Adelaide Festival, Feast Festival, Adelaide Bank Festival of Arts, Bay to Birdwood Run and Classic Adelaide Rally.

 

The food of SA is of world-class standards and there are various Central Markets to enjoy some of the best gourmet food. Rundle Mall offers a variety of foods and cuisine with Italian-style cafes, Asian food as well as seafood. The Adelaide Central Market is located in the middle of the CBD and it has existed since 1869. Wine industry is widespread in South Australia and vineyards are located mainly in Barossa and Riverland. Food industry research and quality control ensures a huge market for the produce of Australia worldwide.

 

SA has world-class education system for various industries mainly automotive, bioscience, defense, resources, electronics, healthcare, information technology and wine. There are many research organizations such as the Commonwealth Scientific Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), International Centre of Excellence in Water Resources Management (ICEWaRM) and the Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI) that provide career opportunities for those keen in research and monitoring activities. In terms of healthcare facilities, there are 9 metropolitan and 25 private hospitals in SA providing world-leading clinical and research skills

 

There are many professional clubs and societies, such as Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists and Managers, to help expand networking in certain areas of interest, as well as building professional relationships and understanding the Aussie way of life. However for a better networking with the community of SA, it is good to join the social clubs.

 

Hence, South Australia could be home for a rewarding career, a safe and healthy environment and quality lifestyle.

References on useful websites :

1) http://www.southaustralia.com/sg/ – a website on tons of information on the culture, attractions, activities, travel, holiday and much more in South Australia

2) http://www.adelaidemetro.com.au/routes/timetableM.html – information on public transport in Adelaide and surrounding areas (with routes and schedule information etc)

3) http://www.immigration.sa.gov.au/ – website on migration to South Australia

 

Gurminder Kaur
http://www.articlesbase.com/destinations-articles/south-australia-as-an-attractive-place-to-live-work-and-study-727613.html

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Creating the Counsellor Mindset: a Career Overview

Diverse values, specialist development, varied experiences, a unique mindset – mix it up and include a touch of interpretation and you have a human being with a social outlook. Leveraging differences between people is a daily necessity of living in societies, and leveraging our own perspective of the world – and others in it – is one of the utmost challenges in pursuing a healthy and balanced lifestyle.

So how do we detach from our past experiences and values to see the world from a clearer perspective? The answer is simple: we don’t. What we need to do is critically analyse our own process of thinking, and pursue reason and appropriateness in our actions. Whilst willingness to help is a premise for counselling, willingness to adjust is a professional requirement – and the following overlapping stages discuss the process of becoming an effective counsellor, facing its challenges, surviving the experience, and learning from it.

Stage One: The Fundamentals of Professional Care

There is a strong ethical component in any health-related profession, particularly ones which deal directly with consumers – in the case of counselling, the client. One of the most prominent aspects of becoming a professional counsellor lies in understanding the ethical guidelines of the profession, which in turn requires counsellors and prospective counsellors to be able to differentiate between ‘friendly advice’ and professional assistance. This is a challenging proficiency as it not only involves the process of learning which is intrinsic to any professional development (or training), but also remodelling the manner in which people naturally respond to a call for help: emotional and inevitably subjective feedback.

In order to cater for those needs, counsellor training involves a great deal of ethical background theory and practice which aims to develop the objective ‘eye’ – a demanded skill for counselling sessions. Such a methodical approach to interpreting human behaviour and individual needs is rooted in the development of early behavioural sciences.

Method in Counselling

What is ‘method’? Method (from Greek methodos or met hodos meaning “way across”) is a word which entered English in 1541 via French and Latin, and is defined as “a series of steps taken to complete a certain task or to reach a certain objective”. The methodical approach was induced by the need to share common guidelines in the observation and analysis of events, laying grounds for the advent of the scientific method – the central component of any modern science.

In the 19th century, the scientific method served to ‘unleash’ psychology from its bonds with philosophy and medicine – and the consequence was the advent of the original behavioural science. Counselling moved away from psychology and Freudian psychoanalysis in the early 1950s with the intent of enhancing the relationship between counsellor and client. The helping nature of the counselling approach set the standards for this newly adopted discipline – and increased focus was placed in nurturing the relationship with the client, encouraging client’s responsiveness, and developing a bond which would lay grounds for the client’s progressive development.

Stage Two: Becoming an Effective Counsellor

According to Meier and Davis (1997, p.61) “in no other profession does the personality and behavior of the professional make such difference as it does in counseling. Beginning counselors need to work at increasing their self awareness as well as their knowledge of counseling procedures. Your willingness to be open to supervision, to accept clients’ failures and criticisms, to participate in counseling yourself when appropriate, and to acknowledge your limits will contribute to your eventual success and satisfaction”.

Acknowledging Values

The client-counsellor relationship is fundamentally a relationship between two human beings. Obviously there are two different roles in the relationship but both counsellor and client have a history of experiences that have shaped who they are, how they view the world and what their values are.

An effective client-counsellor relationship does not ignore the “human” side of the profession. To establish trust, clients need to sense that the counsellors are genuine and sincere in their communications. But when they begin to suspect their own biases, conflicting values or judgements are influencing their work with a client, it is critical that they reflect upon this behaviour and seek to rectify it.

Critically reflecting in supervision, through journaling or personal inner work is required to establish an appropriate plan of action.

Recognising Limitations

It is easy for inexperienced counsellors to fall into the trap of feeling solely responsible for their client’s progress. Counsellors do not possess a magic wand to solve all of life’s problems and it is important to remember that ultimately it is the client that makes choices in their own life.

Counsellors can assist clients to think through options, explore motivators and hurdles, set goals, formulate plans of action and so on. A client, however, must assume the responsibility for taking actions in order to accomplish progress in their life.

There are many aspects of the counselling relationship in which it is important to recognise the limitations of counselling. When progress seems “stuck”, some of the best plans involve tolerating ambiguity, sharing responsibility with the client, re-establishing the role of the counsellor and/or sharing information with a supervisor.

Drawing the Line

Maintaining a critical perspective towards the counsellor-client relationship is essential in order to avoid emotional burnout, misjudgement and unproductive distribution of power. “A common mistake for beginners is to worry too much about clients. There is a danger of incorporating clients’ neuroses into our own personality. We lose sleep wondering what decisions they are making. We sometimes identify so closely with clients that we lose our own sense of identity and assume their identity. Empathy becomes distorted and militates against a therapeutic intervention” (Corey 2001, p. 34).

Stage Three: Dealing with Challenging Situations

One of the foremost challenges facing counselling professionals is to understand the complex role that diversity plays in their work. In counselling, each client’s needs and objectives should be considered and used to guide the counselling process. These needs vary for each individual according to factors such as personality, culture, gender and age.

Counselling with Difference

It is vital that counsellors working with issues of difference recognise the unique needs of their client and plan intervention accordingly. The counsellor must decide on the approach that will provide better responsiveness from the client, and therefore lead to a constructive outcome.

Clients affected by systems of inequity in our culture are frequently subjected to acts of discrimination and prejudice. Counsellors need to understand the impact of such in order to analyse the depth to which a client may be culturally traumatised. Prejudice impacts on self-esteem and may evoke imbalances in a client’s wellbeing. They may experience feelings of being left out of the larger group, feelings of powerlessness, loneliness and hopelessness.

Working with Groups

Group counselling is a challenging and dynamic form of counselling that requires all-round professional skills from counsellors. It implies that any challenges a counsellor may find in helping an individual can potentially duplicate, triplicate, or vastly multiply – however, the more intricate the challenge is, the higher the rewards.

Similar to mathematics theory, the dynamic interactions which occur within a group, along with the external influencing factors upon that group, pose challenges to controlling and interpreting group outcomes. When dealing with groups, the primary objective (whether a group is formed to develop a project or a group united by the need to tackle an analogous problem) is to ensure that the group is healthy and productive. As such, core communication skills which are based on interpersonal communication theory are applicable for groups – promoting good communication between group individuals creates a safe and productive environment for the group to work.

When dealing with groups, there are several major issues that should be noted by professional counsellors, such as:

1. Understanding power relationships – in other words – how the interaction between counsellor and the group’s individuals impact interpersonal relationships;

2. Consciously avoiding generalisations and stereotypes;

3. Accepting that all people are multi-dimensional;

4. Making judgements exclusively on situationally relevant criteria;

5. Adopting communication patterns which minimise stereotyping and increase dignity and respect to induce more appropriate decisions (based on information relevant to the particular context) and;

6. Consciously controlling group communication which is likely to aggravate negative perceptions by others.

The Unfaithful Mind

Counsellors are also faced with situations in which their own personal perspective creates a challenge in their relationships with clients. A client’s personality, behaviour or opinion may diverge from the counsellor in such a radical way that it becomes a motive for dislike or disassociation. It is a complex situation which requires the counsellor to reflect on their own capabilities of dealing with such situation.

The risk of developing hatred against ‘opposing’ groups of society can perpetuate negative behaviour – a kind of traumatic response to what has been perceived as a threat. Recognising value in the individual is part of the process of developing the client’s self-confidence through providing a supportive environment during counselling sessions.

What is the solution? Primarily, the counsellor will need to reflect on whether he/she is able to restrain his/her own negative feelings towards the client and work together in a productive manner. If he/she decides that it is feasible, strategies need to be devised in order to avoid conflict and lack of alignment in the relationship goals. If the counsellor believes that it is not appropriate to deal with the client due to personal motives, there should be a contingency plan to refer that client to appropriate support and ensure that this process is done efficiently – without incurring in any psychological harm to the client.

Stage Four: Learning and Perpetuating

Dealing with human behaviour is never a static process. Learning from each experience is the secret to naturally widen one’s perspective towards the world, improve one’s ability to understand people and to effectively communicate with them. Therefore, learning also plays a big role in the process of developing a positive counsellor perspective. How to improve learning? The best way is to construct a disciplined approach is be attentive to details and situations which produce unexpected results in counselling sessions and other interaction with clients. Learning through observation is of considerable value in terms of experience and maturity for a counsellor.

Perpetuating constitutes the maintenance of the basic backbone that allows a counsellor to be a productive and efficient professional: mental and physical health. Counsellors are deemed to deal with stress throughout their careers – whether through emotional attachment, excessive work, lack of self-care, or a combination of these factors. It is of vital importance that counsellors avoid burnout because emotional stress tends to accumulate overtime and it can result in trauma. All these issues directly affect the counsellor’s ability to oblige to ethical and professional guidelines.

Most people ignore the first signs of excessive stress, and by doing so, become vulnerable to further pressure from work. At some point, counsellors may find it very difficult to attend counselling sessions, to get to work, and to perform in several other areas of life. Preventing burnout is simply a necessary task to anyone aiming for a balanced and fulfilling career (and life).

References:
Scientific Method Wikipedia. Retrieved on: 14/08/2006 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method.
Meier, S., & Davis, S. (1997). The Elements of Counselling. Pacific Grove: Brooks/Cole.
Corey, G. (Ed). (2001). Theory and Practice of Counselling and Psychotherapy. Wadsworth: Thomson Learning.

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Pedro Gondim
http://www.articlesbase.com/psychology-articles/creating-the-counsellor-mindset-a-career-overview-139863.html