Part 1: Introduction
Professional identity is the understanding of one’s profession. The proper understanding enables then to translate and practice their skills to others whether outside or within the profession. Identity in profession grows from career development; professional competence, licensing and specialization and perception of individual roles. The topic of discussion here is professional counselling that involves the application of psychological, human development and mental health principles to a person with the aim of addressing personal growth, development and wellness. All individuals in this profession have one characteristic in common which is the desire to help others in society.
Part 2: Body
Section 1: Professional Counselor Role
As expected, professional counsellors have a particular role of helping individuals in different circumstances hence their importance. Apart from helping the society, professional counsellors also gain from these sessions resulting in a constant growth in their profession. It also comes with the development of professional attitudes and behaviors that can clearly be distinguished from other counselling occupations. Professional counsellors are meant to help people work through different life challenges. It may be in the family, workplace, social dimension, drug and substance abuse and traumatic issues like PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). It is upon the counselor to select the type of group to work with that is teens or children, couples or the elderly. Their role is to provide an environment that allows their patients to engage in self-examination while analyzing their problems using different techniques to provide solutions. The main characteristic of these sessions is the existence of value, respect and acceptance of the clienteles. They also facilitate personal choices of their clients while guiding them towards real and positive decision-making (Hammer, 2009).
When compared to other counselling fields, Professional counsellors are specialized for all situations in life. Other areas of counselling such as psychiatry, pastoral counselling, psychology and social work are specific to a particular issue as their names suggest. Professional counselling on the other hand spans across a number of areas, which are family therapy, relationship counselling, mood and emotional related disorders, loss or grief, traumatic issues and sexual orientation or dysfunction. From the list, it is evident that Professional counselling is broad and provides solutions to all situations, unlike the other fields. Additionally, the level of education for professional counsellors is relatively high and different when compared to that of the other counselling fields. It is because of the seriousness of situations and failure of other counselling methods that individuals decide to seek professional advice.
The counselling that will be provided in the future will go the whole way until the client gets all the help they need. In my previous counselling, there was only one session per client and at most three with the aim of establishing, analyzing and solving their problem. My role at the time was providing advice and the way forward for clients and give guidelines on how to handle their situation without any follow up. This time, the counselling will be systematic including the follow-up stage and the involvement of family and close relatives. For the wounded and PTSD warriors, there will be a prescription of medicine and sometimes refer them to doctors in the case where medication is needed. To make them realize that they are not alone in the situation, I would help them join support groups that have individuals with the same experience to help them share and encourage one another. Based on how the above-mentioned strategies respond, I will be able come up with new ones to suit the different situations (Walters, 2013).
My motivation towards the choice of counselling wounded warriors and those faced with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) came from a family experience. I had an uncle who went to war in Afghanistan and returned one year later with an amputated leg. In his struggle to cope with the new situation and reintegrate with the family, he went into depression as he worked through the PTSD condition. At the time, there was negligence and little counselling from the military with military members with wounds and other conditions receiving little attention. Socially, he was unable to reunite with family and friends as he felt useless at the time. He became irritable with time and ended up divorcing his wife when he turned out to be violent. The torture of being alone and helpless resulted in my uncle committing suicide. Had something been done at the right time, none of these would have transpired (Hammer, 2009).
There are several personal gains obtained from the counselling sessions. With the increase in counselling, I will be able to improve my areas of weakness in the profession. This way, there will be a continuous development of my profession as well as counselling competencies. Such include intervention skills, interpersonal assessment and professional ethics. The ability to counsel clients successfully will also promote my personal identity. This way, I will be able to obtain a professional counselling license from my country and open up chances for new clients. On a different angle, professional counselling enhances my understanding and interaction with others in society based on the various situations. There is also a clear understanding of what people go through in life resulting in a different and positive approach rather than passing judgment and issuing criticism (Issenberg, 2006)
Professionalism in the field of counselling has a systematic way of doing things as well as behavior and other practices. The most common practice is professional ethics. Professional ethics demands for confidentially, freedom and respect for clients who seek counseling. Apart from keeping information entrusted to me by others, I am expected to give them the freedom to make their choices. My job would be to guide them towards the right choices and leave the rest to them. The other common behavior is professionalism. The process requires one to brief the clients on the specific services they offer, the available counselling procedures as well as payment arrangements. All these must happen before one begins to counsel a client. My way of exhibiting professional behavior in my career would be through accountability, caring and a desire to attain a self-improvement. Additionally, I will adhere to the professional ethics by respecting the clients and providing confidentiality. I would also ensure honesty and open-mindedness during my counselling sessions to help the clients evaluate themselves and make the right decisions (Lefkoe, 2012).
Section 2: Religious/ Spiritual Beliefs and Counseling
While growing up in Christianity, individuals here develop a number of beliefs. Despite the existence of different denominations and forms of worship, there exist similar beliefs and values in the whole of Christianity. One of the beliefs is that there exists only one God and the holy Trinity, which brings out God as being three in one. The other general beliefs about God are the omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent and the aspect of sovereignty. There is also a belief in about heaven and hell. In most cases, the explanation here is that those who castoff the teachnigs of God will not enter heaven after they die; instead, they are destined for hell. Others believe in the existence of purgatory where dead sinners get a second chance to cleanse their souls through the prayers of those on earth before they can enter heaven. In another context, Christians believe on the return of Jesus to earth and the raising of the dead for the final judgment. This gives proof that there is life after death. In the topic of marriage and family, this is always ordained by God and for marriage, no one or nothing should separate an ordained marriage. According to Christianity, divorce is prohibited in the bible and those who agree to this promote adultery. Additionally, the choice of right or wrong is the choice of an individual. This comes from one’s conscience, feelings and religious beliefs (Issenberg, 2006).
In terms of right and wrong behavior, the first belief is that this always against God’s will and the teachings of Jesus Christ. Right and wrong behavior in an adult is a matter of choice. Here, we all have the freedom and the ability to decide between doing right and wrong. This way, we are all responsible for our actions. The other belief about wrong is that the habits are learnt from childhood. Once developed, it is impossible for one to change this once they are grown up. God and society reward right actions on earth while wrong actions are punishable.
Based on Christian teachings, the same-sex issues are the most difficult to counsel. In Christianity, same-sex marriages or unions are prohibited and against the law of God as well as that of society. However, the world today allows same-sex marriage making it a legal issue in most nations especially the western countries. In Christianity, everyone has the freedom to choose what he or she wants in life without having choices forces upon him or her. The same applies to the counselling professional. It would be difficult for the professional counsellor since their professional ethics does not allow them to criticize the choice of the couple but to allow them live through their decision. For the counsellor, this difficult situation requires him to tell the couple the truth regarding their union and not support them being an unacceptable union. In this situation, the counsellor should not tell the clients to renounce their choice.
It is possible for one to introduce Christian beliefs in counselling without imposing it on them. The role of a Christian is to enlighten clients and let them make their own decision. For a Christian counsellor, it is possible for him or her to use Christian teachings and examples to guide the clients. The teachings could be used with an aim of shading a light on what the clients need to do based on acceptability of the society and God. From here, it is upon the clients in counselling to make a decision on whether or not to follow the teachings. Not all clients are Christians. Others are from different religious groups hence imposition if Christian values would be unacceptable on their part (Lefkoe, 2012).
Section 3: Course Experience and Summary
From the course, I have learnt that being a professional counsellor for family and marriage requires one to have a clear understanding of family related problems as well as experience. Without this, it would be difficult for one to understand the desperation of having family issues solved. For a counsellor, professional ethics is essential when it comes to the establishment of my identity and efficient delivery of counselling services to clients. The most important values here are honesty and respect which helps to establish a good relationship between me and my clients. It is my duty to help clients get solutions to their problems and make right decisions.