Anna Duong is a 21-year-old female and is a single parent to a one-year-old girl who has been suffering from anxiety problems after a burglary. She was recommended to me by her doctor, Dr. Marvel (Edward Street Medical Practice).
Part A Strengths
During our first meeting, she responded warmly to my salutation after which I began to explain the importance of the session and what steps I would have to take to lower her anxiety and boost her self-esteem. Her initial warm nature was due to her optimism that she will find help for her anxiety problems. The warm and professional greeting between me and Anna were natural and genuine. They served as some sort of ice breaker to allow the client to feel comfortable enough to speak freely about her experience. The use of appropriate language was aimed at avoiding confusing the client with jargonistic language while ensuring a warm and calm environment was maintained throughout the session. My demonstration of respect, genuineness, and empathy was aimed at ensuring that client was relaxed and to allow a good rapport was built. Showing genuine emotion was aimed at showing the client that I cared and this made her open up even more. The use of minimal encouragers throughout the session was aimed at encouraging Anna to express herself more. I also made minimal distracting movements while maintaining appropriate eye contact, body language, and posture. The client seemed to be a little bit hypervigilant despite the client reporting that she was jittery. I tried to use thee encouragers randomly to prevent me from sounding generic and repetitive. The good body language was aimed at ensuring that I maintained a connection with the clients. It made the client more focused since there were fewer distractions. The client was already suffering from anxiety problems and any unnecessary problems might have caused her to feel uncomfortable.
During the counseling session, I discovered my empathy towards the client was one of my main strengths. Empathy allowed me to correctly paraphrase and identify Anna’s emotions. According to a 2017 study conducted on Child-Centered Play Therapy, indicated that empathy was integral for a counselor to build both a personal and professional relationship with a client (Selva, 2020). In a similar study aimed at demonstrating the impact of empathy on alcoholic patients showed that therapists and counselors who demonstrated less empathy in their sessions led to clients being more likely to continue drinking (Selva, 2020). The use of empathy is an important factor in connecting to a client and I believe by showing Anna empathy she is more likely to gain a lot from our sessions.
My questioning and clarification skills were good as I made sure to clarify points that seemed too general and questioned what her thoughts were on the thought of others were on her action. I appropriately used open and closed-ended questions to ensure that Anna was able to fully express herself. Some of the closed-ended questions could have been made open to prevent leading the client. I also used paraphrasing and summery as a means of clarifying information as well as pauses and silence appropriately. My questioning skills were aimed at probing her story to better understand what happened and her stressors. The appropriate use of closed and open-ended questions was aimed at giving Anna more flexibility to open up about her situation to allow me to give to get a clear idea of her situation as well as make me more empathic about her situation. Anna had just experienced a traumatic situation and she needed to leeway to better express her thoughts and her feelings to allow me to properly help her. Paraphrasing and summarizing was aimed at confirming the client’ thought and feelings throughout the session. This allowed me to reflect on the main points spoken by the client as well as have a better sense of direction on what future sessions with the client might entail. It is important to avoid any sense of confusion when understanding what the client is experiences and problems. Anna was likely to miss some details of her encounter that might be crucial in helping her recover.
Part B Weaknesses
One of my weaknesses during the session was listening barriers. This was affected by how I questioned Anna as well as how the session was steered (Selva, 2020). The main reason for this was my nervousness throughout the session as well as the inadequate planning on what needs to be said and the questions that need to be asked. During the session, there was an appropriate use of language. The language I used was friendly and professional. I checked the client to ensure that she did not have any hearing disability. Throughout the session, I demonstrated respect, empathy, and genuineness to the client. There were times that I felt nervous and I laughed a few times in times that could be described as inappropriate.
I would have hoped to become more friendly and warm towards the client since it would have made the client feel like she is in a safe space. The majority of people that experience traumatic situations usually try to retreat from society due to the fear they have. Anna had an anxiety issue that made her nervous in public. A warmer reception would be advantageous in calming her so that she can fully express herself in the session. The downside of trying to be too friendly is that I would seem to be pretentious and she would have retreated even more from opening herself from me. I would have used less professional and more friendly language as a way of getting her to open up more. This would have made Anna more likely to open up more about her situation. The downside to this is that Anna might have not taken the session seriously further damaging her chances of recovering from her anxiety problem. I would have used to have also reduced the number of hand gestures as a means of preventing the client from being distracted. The client is suffering from anxiety and this would have made it easier for her to focus on what is being said. The downside to this approach is that it would have made it harder to encourage the client to tell me their story since she is unsure if I am following what she is saying. Based on my reflection I would have I plan to balance my use of both verbal and non-verbal cues. This will allow me to create a better connection with Anna to help her in recovering from her anxiety issues.
Selva, J. (2020). Understanding Empathy: What is it and Why is it Important in Counseling. PositivePsychology.com. Retrieved 20 September 2020, from https://positivepsychology.com/empathy/#:~:text=Why%20is%20Empathy%20Important%20in%20Counseling,-One%20study%20found&text=Some%20of%20the%20specific%20benefits,of%20feeling%20happy%20and%20secure.
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