Beyond Brief Counseling and Therapy: An Integrative Approach (2nd Edition)

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9780132300926: Beyond Brief Counseling and Therapy: An Integrative Approach (2nd Edition)

  This practical text fully integrates theory and technique of brief counseling while presenting the relationship as the key to any successful intervention. All chapters include ideas and tools for brief counseling and case studies that take the reader step-by-step through the techniques of the first session and beyond. It is written to engage readers and invite them to participate in both self-exploration and discovery. For anyone interested in the advantages of brief counseling.

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Brief counseling is as much attitude as it is technique. The counselor who attempts to use time wisely and well must have a good sense of where to go with the material a client offers. The suggestions offered in this book spring mostly from solution-focused and narrative approaches to counseling, but they are only useful if you pay close attention to your relationship with a client. As most research shows, it is the way you collaborate with your client that does the work. Although the ideas and tools in this book are drawn from what might be considered a postmodern view, you do not have to abandon the rich discoveries counselors and therapists have made during the profession's first century. Brief counseling is not indicated for all people in all situations, but you will find that many of the brief counseling concepts and strategies can enhance your current practice. This book offers a balance between theory and technique, and it is written so that you can take what you find useful and leave the rest on these pages.

Chapter 1, "History of Brief Counseling: The Fly Bottle," offers the rationale for using a brief approach to counseling. Many practitioners in the helping professions are beginning to question the old notions of the mechanistic and medical models that treat clients as defective machines or as pathological protoplasm. These counselors are now attempting to understand the process of change itself and are trying to find ways to tap the natural resources that clients possess. The older humanistic notions of human potential and growth are being vindicated by these new approaches to helping. Today's interveners are reinventing intervention. Instead of engaging in the traditionally intensive process of long-term psychotherapy, counselors are increasingly involved in the minimalist and "just-in-time" process of brief therapy. Their efforts are aimed at building up the client's strengths and resources rather than at remediating the client's problems and dysfunctions. Although most books on brief counseling and therapy emphasize their differences from traditional approaches, we offer a bridge between the past and the future. The postmodern era challenges us to reconsider our beliefs and to do something different than we have done before.

Chapter 2, "Facilitating Change: The One Constant," addresses how you can help clients change unproductive ways of viewing the world so that they can find new, successful strategies. Instead of only assisting clients in finding solutions, you can also help clients in achieving a sense of resolution by deconstructing their representations. You can consider clients' "problems" as their "stuck" or rigidified representations of experience that are in need of change. Through counseling, your client becomes a newly resolute person. Some important clinical issues discussed in this chapter are the death of resistance, the concept of utilization, and clients' lives as metaphors or stories.

Chapter 3, "The Centrality of the Counseling Relationship: No Magic Tricks," points out that any technique will fail unless you have established a relationship with your client. In this chapter, we discuss the various common factors found by many researchers to be indispensable to the counseling process. Such research inevitably leads back to Carl Rogers, who articulated the core conditions for a successful counseling relationship. We discuss the concepts of empathy and acknowledgment and the LUV triangle—listening, understanding, and validating the client's perspective. We also describe Bill O'Hanlon's technique, "Carl Rogers with a Twist," which is a way of adding possibility statements to our reflections of client concerns.

Chapter 4, "Helping Clients Frame Goals: The Pull of the Future," suggests that it is teleology—not etiology—that is the main concern of brief counselors. You start your counseling work with a view to the future rather than to the past. One of the most important activities in which you can engage with clients is helping them to frame their goals. Goals serve as beacons that can guide your counseling work. In this chapter, we discuss how to develop well-formed goals with a client and how to determine whether the client's relationship to you is that of a "customer," "complainant," "visitor," or is involuntary. We also describe how to use the tools of finding exceptions and scaling techniques.

Chapter 5, "Constructivist Counseling: Inventing Realities," offers an alternative way of looking at reality—constructivism, which is sometimes seen as opposed to empiricism. The first assumption of constructivism is that you can never fully know another person's reality objectively. Only by encountering a client in an authentic relationship can you gain an empathic knowledge of that person's experiential world. The second assumption is that ultimate knowledge of a reality "out there" is not possible. Instead of our perceptions providing a veridical copy, or "immaculate perception," of reality, we can only construct our own interpretation of reality. Your goal in counseling is not to get clients to become more realistic, but to help them reconstruct the way they are representing themselves and their world. One of the important tools for deconstructing a client's negative story—and co-constructing a better one—is your use of the question. In this chapter, we offer suggestions on how to use questions effectively, and we discuss some questions you should avoid.

Chapter 6, "Narrative Counseling: Clients' Lives as Stories," focuses on the idea that clients come to counselors with stories that are outdated, tragic, and rigidified. As a result, these clients experience their lives as repetitive, negative, and unchangeable. Your task as a counselor is to help the client construct a new and therapeutic narrative. The technique of externalization seeks news of past successes, whereas the use of hypotheticals encourages clients to create the image of a success in the future. The "miracle question" technique is a way of inviting the client to construct a detailed scene in which the client has resolved the major concerns of his or her life. Each of these techniques is discussed in this chapter as well as how to encourage, rather than praise or reinforce, client behaviors.

Chapter 7, "Managing the Client's Emotional Arousal: Hot-Wiring," discusses the importance of managing emotional arousal in clients. A common misconception is that emotions are messy contaminants to effective problem-solving and good mental health. In fact, discoveries in neuroscience are revealing that emotions are essential to good thinking. This chapter offers a discussion of new ideas taken from recent research into how emotions work and how they contribute to good social judgment. You will learn the techniques for stimulating empathy in your clients, helping them to respond emotionally to positive images, and managing emotional arousal during sessions.

Chapter 8, "Using Mystifying Techniques: Turning Stumbling Blocks into Stepping Stones," offers ideas and tools for creating a "common everyday trance" in clients and for mystifying them into a different perspective. People who are discouraged have foreclosed on their dreams for the future. Nevertheless, their longing for a better life is always there, waiting to be brought out by the counselor. Your job involves tapping into this longing and increasing your client's emotional arousal that is connected to the image of a better future. You will learn to deliver the reframe, to construct an enchanting metaphor, and to write letters using an exotic audience. You will be offered some guidelines for constructing compelling metaphors with "dramatic hold" as you work with your client.

Chapter 9, "Chaos and Complexity in Counseling: Butterflies and Loaded Dice," introduces some of the more controversial approaches to counseling, such as confusion techniques and paradox. Chaos theory suggests that complex systems can be highly unstable and that small perturbations can throw such systems off course. But these small perturbations can result in a large changes, called the Butterfly Effect. People are complex systems—living systems that are adaptive and self-organizing. Instead of falling apart, complex adaptive systems reorganize themselves and grow. When they are perturbed, they put themselves back together in a new way in the process of emergence. In this chapter, we discuss ways of using confusion and paradox in your counseling relationships. We also offer a caveat-use paradox only at certain times and with certain clients.

Chapter 10, "The Reflecting Team, Consulting Break, and Offering Suggestions," presents strategies for the latter portion of the counseling session. We describe the reflecting team, a technique of involving other counselors in your work. We also discuss the distinction between suggestions and advice. Advice is when you "just tell 'em," but suggestions are more subtle and tailored to your client's style. Finally, we give guidelines for offering successful suggestions.

In chapter 11, "The `Brief Attitudes,' the Second Session, and Beyond," we review the fundamental attitudes of successful brief counseling. Brief counseling is not just a set of techniques to be applied to a problem. It is a way of regarding the world and what clients need to move from a "stuck" position to one of creative possibilities. In this chapter, we describe how you can capitalize on positive momentum once you have completed the initial session with your client. We discuss techniques for deciding when to terminate with clients as well as rituals for consolidating changes that the client has made. Clients sometimes have misgivings at the termination of counseling, so we suggest some ways of dealing with these.

Finally, in chapter 12, "Dealing with Involuntaries and Revisiting the First Session," we discuss in greater depth the challenges presented by the involuntary client. We offer hints on helping this person become a customer and suggestions for dealing with the referring thir...

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