In recent times, counseling has become an important component in peoples’ lives. Indeed, modern individual is facing many challenges and distress of daily life. Personal growth and developmental problems have necessitated the need for guidance and treatment to ensure that one can manage day to day activities without any difficulties thus, the justification for individual counseling. According to the British Association of Counseling, “Individual counseling is a principled relationship characterized by the application of one or more psychological theories and a recognized set of communication skills, modified by clear judgment, inspiration, and other interpersonal factors, to meet a client’s intimate concerns, problems, or aspirations”. It is done to facilitate self-knowledge, emotional acceptance, growth, and the optimal development of personal resources. This paper will provide more on the dynamics and essentials of individual counseling by critically analyzing Ralph’s case.
The analysis of Ralph’s case was determined using the existential therapy which is the synthesis and combination of directive and non-directive counseling. Existential therapy is more applicable today due to the fast pace of life in this modern technological era which results in feelings of meaninglessness and emptiness in people. These feelings constitute what Frankl termed an “existential vacuum” and manifest themselves as boredom and apathy. Boredom expresses a loss of interest in the world, and apathy portrays a lack of initiative to do or change something that matters in the world.
Existential therapy is classified by Maslow “as a humanistic theory” as it focuses on encouraging clients to develop full comprehension of their personal meaning of life and reason for existence in the world. “It is viewed more as a philosophical approach to counseling rather than a theory of therapy because it is loosely based on existential philosophy, and it is not tied to any particular therapeutic technique”.
Humanistic theory, therefore, suggests that human beings are good and positive in nature and in their endeavors hence, they have a right to choose their personal behaviors and actions which happen in their own lives. This theory states that what motivates a human being’s characters are the aspects of self-actualization; the aspects that seek the desire of an individual to become something in the future and take responsibility for the actions. It also provides a counselor with a set of principles and constructs which serve as a guide to the foundation of the counseling practice.
During the Counseling Session which enhanced the client’s personal growth and development, including development of healthy interpersonal relationships, while honoring the diversity of my client’s cultural values, the following procedures were conducted:
Analysis: this entailed collection of information from different sources on the cause(s) of maladjustment or problems and general understanding of the client.
Synthesis: this involved summarizing and organizing the acquired data to reveal the client’s assets, liabilities, adjustment, and maladjustment.
Diagnosis: this involved cooperated formulation of conclusions regarding the nature and the cause of the problems exhibited by the client.
Prognosis: this was done in preparation for tentative plan for modifying the above factors and securing effective conditions for counseling. It was also done to try to predict future occurrence of the underlying client’s problems.
Counseling: the counselor took steps with the client to bring adjustment, corrections, and maladjustment. This involved interviewing and stimulating the client by implied encouragement to come up with his own resources and to assume its responsibility in trying out the new adjustment modes.
During the process, those objectives and coordination methods appropriate to the counselor and the client were used. The needs were developed in ways that they could be altered on condition by the client that client-active devices were used while the counselor remained passive. In the permissive counseling process, flexibility of the techniques with reduced expenditures was the main feature. The counselor was free to choose methods and express feelings to the client. It was decided whether to use directive or non-directive methods while keeping in mind the client’s directives. Making an opportunity available to the client was insisted for him to find solution to the problem.
Follow-Up: this is the process of helping the client with the new problems that might occur and determining the effectiveness and efficiency of the counseling provided to the client.
In this case, Ralph suffers from a psychological disorder called Identity Crisis whereby the individual is disoriented and confused of his roles in the family and at work. It is brought about by internal and external experiences, pressures, and expectations which consequently lead to anxiety thus, the quest for his purpose in life which according to humanistic theory, irrespective of the choices he makes, he should be responsible for them.
The theory continues to explain that no matter how and what experiences a person has that are affecting him/her or conflict with his/her purpose in life, no one should blame anybody. One should be able to take charge and react appropriately to the problems in the best way one feels. There is a need for a person to accept himself hence able to deal with the being and non-being issues. Ralph should understand that the experiences that he is passing through are self-affecting hence, he should not blame anything or anybody; he should be able to take charge and react to the situation in the best way. However, he should not base the experience that he is undergoing on financial and family issues. The theory seeks to emphasize on the individualism in order to answer the personal problems within his strengths and weaknesses, in order to find a better solution.
Thereby, in providing guidance on the case regarding this theory, one should look at the key aspects. Ralph is experiencing what he calls middle life or identity challenges. He feels discouraged and unchallenged in his work. In this theory, a man is motivated with the desire to do what he wants. Therefore, it is not wrong for him to feel that he is unchallenged and should quit and take a new job. But then, he is undecided on what to do: whether to stay in his current job, since his children rely on him where there is a short period to retirement and constant advice from his wife. Ralph should realize not to blame anybody or anything on the experiences and challenges he is feeling. He should be able to stand firm rationalize on the problems and issues facing him and come to decision. But then, he should know that he will have to take responsibility of the decision to make. Consequently, I would advise Ralph to evaluate the possible solutions on the problem, on the impact of the every single problem carefully and then, come up with decision to follow and abide by.
To sum up, the theory and the case of Ralph illustrate the day to day struggles of human beings that naturally affect individuals; one challenge after another in life. In these challenges, one will possess certain weaknesses and strengths in the process of finding a solution. This is what is needed in counseling, whereby one sits and shares his belief behavior and challenges and then, discusses on the possible objectives to find a decision and thereby, a solution.
In conclusion, although the existential theory of counseling appears to be an appropriate theoretical base to use in counseling by supporting the client to find the meaning of life which later resolves the existential anxiety felt by many people today, it lacks the structure and models for implementation which could result in a counselor not being effective in helping a client reach a state of existential transcendence. It is also very individual and may not work well with clients from a collectivist culture; furthermore, the existential counseling model is not conducive to brief therapy, therefore, existential counseling can be a difficult technique to effectively use. However, with proper practice and implementation of techniques from other theories such as eclectic, cognitive, and psycho-dynamic therapies, an effective counselor approach will be realized.