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Professional Identity

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This paper will discuss developing beliefs and identity regarding marriage and family therapy. Over one’s life many beliefs are learned and become apart of who they are. These beliefs may be religious or just what they fell are right and wrong. These are the characteristics that will help or hinder them when it comes to being an effective counselor. Marriage and family therapist use psychotherapy to treat mental, emotional and interpersonal problems in the context of close relationships. Spiritual and or religious beliefs can also be incorporated into treatment. As a professional one must be aware not to impose personal beliefs into counseling.

Professional Identity Paper
In becoming a marriage and family therapist I look forward to the journey of finding myself and becoming a better person as I progress. There are many different types of counselors; it is often misconstrued one from the other. The term counselor tends to “clump” all counselors into one category when counselors may refer to; school counselors, guidance counselors, pastoral counselors, or even marriage and family counselors. When thinking of counseling we think of the person seeking the help as the only gaining party when in fact the counselor is gaining a meaningful connection both with self and with others, better way to channel interpersonal energy and a greater understanding of self. Professional Counselor Role

The role of the marriage and family therapist include altering the destructive behaviors and perceptions, settling interpersonal conflicts and improving communication between partners and or family members. This is accomplished by using psychotherapy. The marriage and family therapist is a mental health professional that diagnoses and treats mental, emotional and interpersonal problems in the context of close relationships (Wasmer, 2010). This field is distinguished from other fields of counseling such as social work, psychiatry, pastoral counseling and psychology by an array of requirements.

Marriage, couple and family counselors are specifically trained to work with relationships and can be found in many different agency settings as well as private practice. “The coursework tends to be specifically in system dynamics, couple counseling, family therapy, family life stages, and human sexuality along with traditional coursework in the helping profession (P.137) (Nuekrug, 2014).” Pastoral counselors do not have the same coursework; most have a degree in counseling or possibly a related field. Some have even been known to have a master’s degree in religion or divinity. Most social workers now have a master’s in social work and find employment in an array of settings. In counseling there are an array of beliefs that are considered professional or as counselors may refer to them ethical. In counseling professionalism is thought of in ethics.

Ethics is defined as a collective agreed upon correct behavior as defined by a professional group (Nuekrug, 2014). There are many different codes of ethics that have standardized ethical behavior for the counselor to follow. The profession of counseling is held in high esteem and one must present them in this manner. The attitudes and behavior associated with counseling should be of nature to uphold the ideas of the counseling profession. I will exhibit professional behavior in my new career by being familiar with the code of ethics and providing which ever is relevant to the situation at hand. Being that I have never provided counseling in an official capacity; I hope that in the future I can embody the characteristics of the effective counselor.

Developing the characteristics of the effective counselor helps to build the working alliance amongst the counselor and the client. Once this working alliance is established it is easier to help the client. Being able to help and make a difference in individuals lives is what I strive to accomplish. In the past I have often sat down with Soldiers that had issues and wanted someone to talk to. In the future counseling will be as a second nature to me and I will have the ability to retrieve an appropriate response to what is truly needed.

It takes very special people to want to make a difference in people’s lives, to want to help them to be better. Some people seek to become counselors after overcoming a most important life challenge. The individuals that seek the profession of marriage and family therapy do not think of this work as a job or career, more typically a constellation of life experiences that demand explanation and a sense that others seek one out for assistance and emotional sustenance become driving forces leading one to counseling profession (An Invitation to Counseling Work). I first knew that I wanted to be a counselor as a child.

No one in particular inspired me to want to be a counselor, but I do feel that I chose marriage and family therapy due to the issues that my family has or had and never thought to seek counsel. There are many families out there that have issues but do not believe in therapy. My own parents do not see the usefulness of as they say, going to sit on someone’s couch and pay them to listen to your problems. As a child I can recall sometimes thinking if I just had someone to talk to that would understand. That is why I chose to become a marriage and family therapist, to help all the people that want help.

Helping someone gives me a sense of pride. I will personally gain characteristics that will not only help me be an effective counselor but also effective in other areas of my life. Through counseling there is the possibility to improve the quality of relationships with others, specifically the more intimate relationships (An Invitation to Counseling Work). From learning how to connect effectively with individuals I will develop wisdom and gain insight into myself. I would ultimately like to gain life growth and learning experiences from my work as a counselor.

Religious Beliefs and Counseling
Do not judge others, is a religious belief that I have developed growing up and always try to keep in mind. As a child I was always told God is the only one that can judge. Matthews 7:1 say, “Judge not, that you be not judged.” I find this religious belief to be an effective belief to have when it comes to counseling because there will be individuals with all types of issues that seek counsel. This belief along with professionalism helps me to keep an open-mind and not get too wrapped up in what I think on a personal level. Another belief that I developed growing up is that suicide is an unforgivable sin. It was taught to me that if one committed suicide they would go to hell and live out eternity with Satan in the fiery pits of hell. There are many religious beliefs that we are taught growing up that help shape our approaches to what we think are right and wrong on a personal level.

When it comes what is right and wrong behavior many thoughts come to mind. To be frank the Ten Commandments come to mind. But when thinking from a counseling perspective I think of issues that I may have to help a client deal with. I have developed a belief that abortion, rape and homosexuality are wrong. Abortion is wrong because the gift of life is such a precious gift that it should not just be discarded. I do understand that there are always different reasons why mothers have abortions. Rape is wrong because it stripes the individual being raped of self-dignity and leaves them questioning their faith. Homosexuality is nothing personal but I just feel that it is wrong based on the Bible.

Based on my values or beliefs I do not feel in particular that I will have difficulty counseling any particular population. I am not saying that it would be easy to provide counsel to an individual that has been deemed a “bad person” based on social norms. I think in particular a person that has raped another would provide a little hesitation on my behalf just because actions like this baffle me and I would want to know the depth of the issue, why they performed such a lewd act. In my short period of life I have spoken and been in contact with many different types of people. As a professional and a Christian it is my duty to try and help the individual seek assistance. With the strength of God I will be able to overcome any obstacles.

When interacting with individuals it is necessary to find a “happy medium”. All people will not have the same beliefs, nor will they necessarily want to hear another persons’. In incorporating my own beliefs I think that if it is not absolutely relevant to the person I am trying to help I will not incorporate my beliefs. If I must incorporate my beliefs into counseling I will only express them when it is relevant and in a non-judgmental approach. Often times when someone is expressing their beliefs it feels as if they are almost outright telling you to feel how they feel. I would like to steer clear of this and just try my best to express my beliefs in a non-threatening manner. Core Experience and Summary

I have learned several things from this course that will be beneficial to me being a family and marriage therapist. The most critical thing that I learned from this class that it in order to be an effective counselor who you are as a person does count (Bohart, Greenberg, Elliot, & Watson, 2011). When studying for a particular profession one sometimes assumes that the most important aspect of being able to perform that job is what they are learning. From this course I learned that I must possess specific qualities to make people want to seek me out as a counselor. These characteristics include but are not limited to, empathy, acceptance, genuineness, embracing a wellness perspective, and cultural competence.

To be a counselor one has specific requirements, traits and values. After self-evaluation in this class I have learned that there are quiet a few of these traits and values that I already possess. I already see that I have the characteristics of empathy, acceptance and genuineness. I now understand that these characteristics are what caused me to seek out being a counselor because these are the characteristics that allow individuals to feel comfortable with me to seek me for advice. For as long as I can remember people have came to me and asked me for advice on issues they were dealing with. I do feel that there is so much more to learn about becoming the effective counselor as well as about myself. As a counselor one must be on a constant journey to find them and deal with their own issues. As far as the requirements, I look forward to the challenge of being able to meet the guidelines set forth. Conclusion

Over the eight weeks of this course I have learned the differences between counselors and other related fields of counseling. Across state lines different requirements are needed in order to practice counseling. It is important when beginning to search the requirements for your state. I have learned not to impose my beliefs during counseling and if I must to express it only when relevant and in a non-judgmental manner. In counseling one will encounter all types of people seeking counsel for many different reasons and regardless of how I feel about why they are seeking counsel I will maintain my professionalism.

An Invitation to Counseling Work. (n.d.). Retrieved March 6, 2014, from Sage Publications: www.sagepub.com/upm-data Bohart, A. C., Greenberg, L. S., Elliot, R., & Watson, J. C. (2011). Empathy. Psychotherapy , 48 (1), 43-49. Nuekrug, E. (2014). A Brief Orientation to Counseling, Professional Identity, History and Standards. Brooks/Cole Cenage Learning. Wasmer, L. W. (2010). Marriage and Family Therapist. Encyclopedia of Depression , 293-294.

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