Counseling Process

Counseling Process

Details: The change process is a central component of counseling practice. Your role as a counselor in training includes recognizing and understanding how change can occur for each client you work with.
Watch the video “Mindfulness-Based Therapy and Guiding Clients Through Change” located in the Topic 4 Resources. Then write a brief statement describing your view of the change process.
In 250-500 words, answer the following:
Describe the intent and purpose of mindfulness practice within the counseling process
Describe how counselors-in-training can engage in this practice of thoughtfully attending to the clients’ underlying needs
Give examples of additional strategies for how CIT can attend to client’s emotional needs when a client is focused on sharing extensive information about the details of their lives
How might this focus on peripheral details be keeping them stuck or focused solely on their problems?
Include at least three scholarly sources in your response.
[Mindfullness Based Therapy and Navigating Change]
DENISE FOURNIER: name is Dr. Denise Fournier. [Dr. Denise Fournier, LMHC Mental Health Counselor Evegreen Therapy] I’m a licensed mental health counselor with a PhD in marriage and family therapy, and I am a mindfulness-based psychotherapist in private practice.
[What is mindfulness based therapy?]
DENISE FOURNIER [continued]: Mindfulness-based therapy incorporates the principles of mindfulness, which have emerged from ancient Eastern traditions, namely Buddhism, to teach us how to approach life in a very particular way with a sense of presence, with a sense of awareness, with a sense of intention, and with a sense of acceptance, nonjudgmental, and non-reactivity to what’s transpiring in our lives in any particular moment.
DENISE FOURNIER [continued]: Mindfulness-based therapy incorporates those elements of mindfulness with other evidence-based therapeutic, more Western, more modern practices, in order to deliver a form of therapy that invites clients to be more present to the experience that’s transpiring within them and around them at any given time. [How does mindfulness based therapy help clients navigate change?] Since mindfulness is all about awareness, acceptance, non-reactivity, and non-judgment, I find that it’s really well suited for approaching difficult life transitions that naturally generate a sense of anxiety that can naturally be really disruptive and destabilizing, because it equips clients with the tools to be able to pause, sit inside the discomfort of this upheaval of this destabilizing shake up of their status quo of what they’re used to and what they’re familiar with, and to be able to very thoughtfully appraise what’s happening and tease that apart from the mind’s anxious reactions to what’s happening.
DENISE FOURNIER [continued]: And so when big disruptive events happen, like this pandemic and everything that’s gotten shaken up over the last couple of years, when things like that happen or when clients go through their own upheavals, whether it’s a divorce or a big life change, they’re able to utilize mindfulness in the moment to moment practice of meeting this event face to face and being able to care for themselves and thoughtfully respond rather than emotionally instinctively react to what’s happening.
DENISE FOURNIER [continued]: And when they’re able to do this, opens up a broad range of options and possibilities for how they can navigate these circumstances. So that on the other side of it, they feel clearer, they feel more empowered, and they feel as though the way they’ve navigated these difficult choppy waters of their lives has remained consistent with the version of themselves they most want to be. In this last year and a half of the pandemic, I’ve seen clients go through very difficult and destabilizing periods that have adversely affected, of course, their mental health and their sense of well-being, their sense of security in the future and the long term.
DENISE FOURNIER [continued]: And of course, this pandemic is just a backdrop to all the regular life stuff that’s happening for people. And because I work with people through the lens of mindfulness, I’ve been really gratified to see that people are responding to these difficulties in ways that are considered, in ways that are gentle, in ways that allow them to really appreciate what’s actually happening without having that panicked, reactive upper layer of the experience that tends to happen when we get into resistance with these transitions and we thrash around and react to what’s happening as opposed to grounding ourselves and responding to the situation as we ride all of the difficult waves to get to the other side.
DENISE FOURNIER [continued]: [How can practitioners navigate working with clients through anxieties that they might share?] This is one of the hardest things for therapists to learn and develop. I wholeheartedly believe that the most important thing we as therapists can do, and must do is to learn how to take care of ourselves through the process and to remember that we are the instrument of the therapy process. Unlike medical doctors who have all sorts of tools and instruments, we as therapists are the instruments.
DENISE FOURNIER [continued]: So the work is passing through us. At the same time that we’re delivering therapy, we’re also involved in the therapy process. Our bodies are involved. Our hearts are involved. We are having the experience of therapy as we are delivering it to our clients. And we cannot be completely neutral as therapists. So whatever we’re experiencing internally, either throughout the course of a therapy session or a therapeutic conversation and also in general in our lives, all of that is going to be transferred into the therapy process.
DENISE FOURNIER [continued]: And so we need to be really mindful of what we are experiencing so that we can be as centered as possible in the therapy process and as helpful as possible to our clients. What this means is doing our own work with a therapist, with ourselves to be clear about what we’re experiencing, to know that we’re coping, as well as we can be with that experience so that then we can show up for our clients as helpfully as we can be.
DENISE FOURNIER [continued]: And this isn’t always easy. The experience of the last year and a half of the pandemic has showed me that it is more important than anything else for a therapist to do their own self-care and to make sure that they’re well before showing up for their clients. I’ve been going through difficulties like anybody else through COVID-19. I’ve had family members who have been sick. I’ve had major life transitions that have happened throughout the course of this pandemic. And at times, it’s been really difficult for me to hold space for my clients, knowing that the content of what’s going to happen in our sessions is likely to trigger my own personal experience.
DENISE FOURNIER [continued]: This has also been the case in the past in my life when I’ve gone through difficulties like a major illness and a divorce and had to show up for clients going through similar things not necessarily knowing what a client might say that might resonate with my own personal experience. What I found to be helpful through those processes is to make sure that I’m working with a therapist that I can trust and make sure that I am staying mindful every day of what my boundaries are and what my limits are to what I’m able to take on as a therapist.
DENISE FOURNIER [continued]: There have been times when I’ve needed to schedule fewer clients in a day because I don’t feel that I have the capacity or the bandwidth to show up compassionate, to show up present, to show up grounded. And so I’ve made those adjustments along the way as I’ve needed to. I’ve also found that it’s really important to be always in conversation with colleagues, to be talking through and conceptualizing cases with trusted therapists in your life so that you can be checking your filters and checking your interpretations and your perceptions of what’s transpiring with your clients to be sure that you aren’t interpreting things through the lens or the filter of your own personal experience.
DENISE FOURNIER [continued]: It’s inevitable that the personal and the professional is going to get blended together. It’s just the kind of work that therapy is. But if we have these checks and balances in our lives through our own therapists, our colleagues, and our own practices of self care and personal growth and development, it helps to be able to navigate these difficult times in life when the personal stuff is blending together with what clients are bringing into the session. [What advice do you have for students when it comes to incorporating mindful based techniques in their lives and future work?] When I was first training to become a therapist, nobody was talking about mindfulness.
DENISE FOURNIER [continued]: I had the good fortune of throughout the time that I was studying to become a therapist also being mentored by Buddhist teachers and meditation teachers. And so all along, I was incorporating these practices of Buddhism, meditation, mindfulness into my personal life, and that really extended into the way I was showing up for my clients. But I was sort of navigating in the dark a lot of the time in terms of how to bring these two worlds together. When I was going through my training, these two worlds felt very far apart.
DENISE FOURNIER [continued]: These days, that isn’t as true. It’s been wonderful to see how much the field of psychology and the mental health profession in general has really developed an understanding of and adopted a lot of these practices of mindfulness and meditation and things in that realm. So most developing therapists are probably getting exposure to these concepts in school, and that’s a wonderful thing. And what I would recommend to people is to take it further.
DENISE FOURNIER [continued]: Developing a mindfulness practice of your own is the best way to be able to incorporate mindfulness in therapy and deliver these tools to clients in a way that they can really utilize. So the best place to start is to learn about mindfulness and develop your own personal mindfulness practice. Usually, this happens through starting a meditation practice because mindfulness, of course, is meditation that we carry off the cushion and into our daily lives.
DENISE FOURNIER [continued]: So therapists who are interested in this should start the practice themselves and get familiar with the subtle and at times not so subtle shifts that start to happen in life when you apply a mindfulness approach to it. The more you start to incorporate this in your life, the more insight you’re going to get as to how mindfulness can create shifts in life in general. And then, of course, there are all sorts of techniques out there, all sorts of specific strategies that you can implement, approaches you can implement in the therapy process.
DENISE FOURNIER [continued]: And as you learn those, it will be extra helpful to really understand why you’re doing this, to have that firsthand experience of mindfulness that allows you to recognize what’s actually helpful about these techniques and to deliver them to clients in a mindful way, in a thoughtful way, and in a purposeful way that’s going to make it so that clients can make the maximum use of those mindfulness-based interventions. It all starts with our understanding of it. And with mindfulness, it really starts with our own practice of it, our own implementation of it in our lives.

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