Collaborative goal setting is one of the conditions of effective counseling relationships. The individual counselor should create the atmosphere of acceptance and sincerity promoting the collaboration. To achieve a reliable counseling alliance, the counselor and the client should equally understand the purpose of the teamwork. In the case of Sienna, the counselor performed her mission in the framework of the collaborative goal setting.
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Precisely speaking, they created Sienna’s goals together through trust and confidentiality. If at the time of their first meetings Siena felt timid and depressed, later she became open and began to talk about her state with more confidence. It occurred due to the professional work of the counselor who consistently asked the right questions to gather information about the client. The warm and comfortable atmosphere of collaboration helped Siena to relax and feel better.
Multiple intermediate goals are usually grouped into a hierarchy. The client successfully achieves one goal after another. At the same time, his or her motivation and the awareness of necessary changes are amplified and supported. Based on multiple counselings, Sienna decided to do the following:
- to visit a psychiatrist and, perhaps, take some pills to eliminate symptoms of insomnia or lack of appetite;
- to resolve problems with her roommate talking to her openly;
- to improve her study by means of the time management;
- to develop her decision-making skills with the help of the counselor;
- to reassess her purposes after eight counselings making sure if they are appropriate.
What is more, Sienna understood that she should work hard to make her goals true.
Open questions allow the client to answer in a several ways. They should be formulated so that the client would like to answer them. These questions require the detailed answer. Open questions are useful because they are undoubtedly the most attractive tool to get free, truthful, and unlimited responses and to promote thought-provoking conversation. In the case of Sienna, I might ask her counselor the following questions:
- What was the main difficulty of Sienna’s relationships with her roommate?
- Why did she decide to come to the counseling center?
Closed questions direct the client to the particular topic and make him or her select between suggested choices. They embody the uniqueness and certainty. Consequently, the rigid framework should limit the answer, in particular, nature and the exact dosage of the requested information. The usefulness of closed questions is that they are simple to ask and easy to answer. For example, I might ask her counselor the following questions:
- Was the first session with counselor effective and promising?
- How many sessions was enough for Sienna?
Countertransference is the transfer arising from the therapist to the client (patient). It goes without saying that Darcy’s case is really complicated one. On the one hand, study at the university leading to a good job in the future, on the other hand, she could be happy as a mother of three children and her husband would be happy as well. I felt the same sense of duality and difficulty of choice. I wanted to empathize with her and help to make the appropriate and considered choice. Carefully examining my feelings encountered in the countertransference, I began to understand the patient’s situation better, in particular, her thoughts and feelings thereby facilitating the penetration into her unconscious mind.
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