Section 1: Strengths
During the semester and through readings, lectures, and the dyads project, I have developed critical skills that will help in my future work as a counselor. The videos and feedback from my instructor and peers have helped to address various areas of weakness to improve my abilities. One of the strengths that I have developed is attending behaviors. I have always been good at maintaining eye contact, but I have improved my skills in the semester. I remain calm and professional in terms of body posture during interviews. This ability makes the client comfortable expressing deep feelings. I have learned to create an empathetic and warm environment for my client. I am also attentive to their needs, which makes communication more effective.
I have also discovered that I can validate my client’s feelings. In every dyad, I have managed to validate my client’s feelings, a move that always makes them comfortable around me and able to express their emotions without fear. Consequently, I have encouraged my clients to express their deepest fears and worries, making it possible to work with them when finding solutions. Effective therapists should be able to show empathy toward their client’s feelings and avoid being judgmental. Being understanding has always made my clients feel comfortable and calm around me. This ability makes me appear genuine when having conversations with my clients. The ability is natural because I am not a judgmental person. I listen to people carefully and show evidence of comprehension and empathy.
I can reflect on my client’s feelings and restate such feelings. The ability to reflect on the client’s feelings helps to create a more understanding environment. I have managed to restate the client’s statements to clarify issues and ensure that I understand what they are saying, especially regarding their emotions. For example, I have realized the effectiveness of paraphrasing clients’ statements to comprehend their feelings. I will also continue to use restatements and reflections to improve my skills as a counselor. Therefore, these strategies create a setting where the client is prepared to speak about feelings and emotions. I have also received important feedback from the instructor and peers, which has helped me to improve these skills and become a better counselor.
Finally, I have the strength to mirror the client’s effect and tone. Clients want to feel that the therapist fully understands them and that they are on the same page regarding the problem. While communicating with the client, I realized that we took the same pose, leaned forward, and propped the elbow. I did not understand the changes right away but later understood that it was mirroring the effect and tone of the client. I have been making a different face whenever I am working with a client, but I had not noticed until one of my peers told me about it. However, I have learned that such gestures are not always inadequate. They help me to realize that I understand the client’s feelings and emotions. The strength helps clients to feel like they are not being judged. I am completely immersed in what the client feels, which has helped me become a better counselor.
Section 2: Areas of Growth
While I have improved my skills and strengths in some areas, I have others that I need to work on to become better. One of the areas I should improve is the use of interventions. I want to work hard to improve how I use various interventions to help my clients meet their diverse needs. One of the areas I need to improve is countertransference. The intervention occurs when, as a therapist, I transfer emotions to the client. It is a normal reaction to transference, where a client directs feelings to the counselor. I should learn how to use countertransference positively to help the client deal with feelings and emotions. During my dyads, I realized that I could have challenges controlling emotions, such as being overly sympathetic to the client. In one instance, I could not work on my countertransference, which made it quite challenging to be present for the client. It was hard to understand the cause of my client’s problem. Hence, this is an area I have to work on to become a better therapist.
I also need to improve my ability to control my nerves. I have realized that while it is possible, it is also hard to work with people facing challenges in life. During the dyads, I encountered clients with diverse emotions, which was sometimes unnerving. I must learn how to control my nerves and remain calm during the therapy process. While it is easy to calm my nerves in a normal situation, I realized it was hard dealing with emotional circumstances. In one instance, I became nervous about taking a break from a therapy session. Therefore, I need to remain calm during sessions to make my clients comfortable and free to express their emotions and feelings. I will learn to breathe easily, settle my mind, and relax my body during therapy.
I should also work on my facial expressions, such as being more expressive when necessary. During therapy, the expression of the counselor plays an important role in making the client more comfortable sharing their deepest feelings. I had a surprised expression in one of the dyads, which made my client quite uncomfortable. I realized this would affect the outcome and my effectiveness as a therapist. I should avoid facial expressions that appear as though I am judging the client or overly sorry about their situation. In the future, I should not allow the client to read my face and realize what I am feeling about their problems. Therefore, this will make them more comfortable and calmer when speaking to me. Focusing on my facial expressions will help me improve my work.
I understand that the efficacy of a counselor in using interventions has a significant implication on their success in therapies. Therefore, I will work hard and practice to ensure that I can use all interventions according to the needs of a particular situation. I should learn to focus my interventions after understanding the nature of the presented problems and related emotions or feelings. It will make it easier to work with diverse clients.
Section 3: Reflection on Skill Development
I have learned and developed considerably following the feedback I have received from the teaching staff. Every time I presented a project and received feedback, I would use it to improve my next dyad. The training has helped me become less nervous and anxious when conducting interviews and speaking with clients. I have become more confident in my ability to perform successful interviews. I should say that the level of development I have gained is impressive. I could barely complete the interview during my first dyad because of anxiety. However, I can now conduct successful sessions and work with clients to solve the presenting problem. I have also improved my asking questions and clarifications to receive as much information as possible from the client.
However, I have learned that there is always room for improvement and that I should work on my skills and expertise to enhance my future interactions. Therefore, I have identified specific goals I plan to achieve in the semester and beyond. The goals I have identified include; becoming more self-aware; being more involved in internships or volunteer opportunities that have multicultural experiences; dealing with countertransference positively; by working with male clients; using silence as an intervention in future sessions, and continuing working on controlling my nerves and be more expressive during sessions. I plan to achieve these goals through learning and practicing and seeking more feedback from my instructors and peers. I will keep conducting interviews because practice will improve the identified skills.
Section 4: Reflection on Expectations and Objectives for Continued Training
I have identified the need for continued development to achieve my goals and become a better therapist. For instance, I wanted to become more self-aware. Hence, I will achieve this goal by working on my emotions and learning how to control my feelings. This milestone will be achieved through more training and practice and by seeking feedback from my peers and instructors.
My second goal is to be more involved in internships or volunteer opportunities with multicultural experiences and work with male clients. The goal will provide more opportunities to train to become more culturally sensitive to work with diverse clients in my future sessions. I realize that I will work with individuals from different backgrounds, which makes this goal more important.
My third goal is to deal with countertransference positively to make my client calm and comfortable. This goal will be achieved through more practice to improve my skills in therapeutic situations. I will train to become more effective when working with clients and control my emotions.
The fourth goal is to use silence as an intervention in future sessions. I have realized that silence is a strong intervention when working with clients to offer the chance to process emotions. I will achieve this goal through more training and practice. I can only evaluate the skills development when working in real-life situations.
Finally, I will continue working on controlling my nerves and be more expressive during sessions. I have learned that being nervous in therapy hinders its effectiveness. Therefore, I will train to control my nerves and remain calm during sessions. Overall, the efforts are rewarding because they will enhance my skills and assist me in becoming an effective therapist in my future career.