Counseling can be a challenging, provoking, and worthwhile practice. Its challenging because it requires the use of skills such as assessment, treatment, counseling, and recommendation. It’s provoking due to high volume work and increased observation and documenting due to handling best quality care and its rewarding when a counselor sees individuals regain control of their lives. When the person(s) are family orientated, then the counselor becomes a Marriage and Family Counselor. In this paper, I will review what exactly marriage and family counseling is, what are the ethics attached to it and what type of counselor therapy techniques is involved in this precise field. Also, I will be focusing on what Christian values are inserted and emotionally involved to Marriage and Family Counseling.
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Throughout life, our personal and family relationships give us both joy and challenges. The more we understand ourselves, our emotions and behaviors, the better we can communicate, manage stress and function effectively around the important people in our lives (Therapytribe, 2012).
Marriages and families are composed of people, and people can be very problematical. Sometimes, when a family is under pressure and situations are not headed in the direction they like, the use of Marriage and Family Therapy is an avenue that would be very beneficial for family tranquility.
Blame for family problems can be directly related to many issues; work, stress, money problems, etc., but the chief component that mainly effects couples and families is due to failing to communicate or, the fact that people don’t spend enough time actually talking to one another and trying to understand each other. Whatever the symptoms are, these problems are where the useful tool of a Marriage and Family counseling can be useful.
Marriage counseling is not just for unhappy or struggling couples – couple’s therapy can be used proactively to strengthen bonds and to gain a better understanding of one other. In addition, before a marriage begins pre-marital counseling can help couples achieve a deeper understanding of each other and iron out differences before their wedding day.
A Marriage and Family therapist is a person who is educated in understanding how relationships comprehend family situations, and is there to help parents, siblings, uncles, aunts, grandparents, etcâ€¦ learn how to distinguish attitudes and feelings and improve communication with one another. In order for the counselor to help with the fullest of capabilities and keep the counselor/client relationship in harmony, there are some basic rules and procedures that he/she needs to follow: An ethical standard, therapy techniques and for a Christian, what values does the counselor hold compared to a secular counselor.
Marriage and family counselors encounter ethical and legal dilemmas almost every day. Whether new to the counseling career or have been practicing for eons, ethical challenges can still hamper therapy or confuse the counseling process. From confidentiality issues to records maintenance, from duty of client(s) care to informed consent, a counselor’s legal and ethical questions can spring up from every corner, especially when handling more than one patient. The American Counseling Association (ACA) and the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) have guidelines that aid the process of ethical decision making.
The first step in protecting the rights of clients is the informed consent document (Corey, 2011). The most important thought in family therapy is that the process for initiating informed consent be conducted with all persons who participate in therapy, including family members who join counseling at a later occasion. Per ethical motivations, it is vital for making the time necessary to get hold of informed consents from the entire family. This procedure will proclaim chief counseling messages such as, no one family member is more important than the other person and no one person will be considered the client while others simply observe. Also, no one will be excluded from understanding about what is going to become known.
It is typical of most families that some members are more eager to participate in therapy than others, raising the issue of voluntary participation. Obviously, coercion of the reluctant individual by other family members or by the therapist is unethical; however, this does not mean that the therapist cannot strongly encourage a family member to attend at least one
session to discover what therapy may offer (Margolin, 1982). Also, it does not imply that the counselor pay no attention to what may be core reasons adding to the person’s reluctance, such as feeling threatened. In sorting out whether or not a particular family member will participate in therapy, the therapist should identify the extent to which each person will be expected to participate, for example, whether some persons simply can attend the therapy sessions in the role of observer, learning enough about the therapeutic process so that they do nothing to impede its progress (Margolin, 1982).
Marriage and family therapists have unique confidentiality concerns because the client in a therapeutic relationship may be more than one person. Therapists respect and guard the confidences of each individual client (AAFMT, 2012). Client confidentiality is a vital part of counseling ethics. Counselors are expected to keep personal information from third parties. Disclosing information would consequently result in an infringement of trust and can lead to serious consequences, especially when dealing with dual clients during therapy sessions.
At some point during counseling, a couple that received joint treatment from a counselor may become separated and start legal action to break up the couple’s connection and initiate child custody issues. A client of the estranged couple may separately inquire about the involvement of the counselor to promote for an advantageous position in the relationship’s legal quarrel. This, in turn, creates an ethical dilemma of placing one client’s interest higher than the other’s interests. Therapists who function as an advocate of the system avoid becoming agents of any one partner of family member (Corey, 2011). Also, counselors who cease therapy with one member of a couple and maintain a relationship to offer services to the other party should keep in mind that the confidentiality continues to protect the interests of the former client. Always keeping the confidentiality of every client, former and past, keeps the integrity of the counselor and aids in the trust building to present and possibly future clients.
Counselor Therapy Techniques
Counselors of all fields are anticipated to effectively handle situations with couples and families experiencing an assortment of issues and problems. Family therapists at different periods of time may seem to be operating like one another, using similar intercessions with a family. Differences become transparent when the therapist gives details concerning a definite technique or intervention. Many of today’s family counselors go above and beyond the usual amount of techniques readily available to them for counseling. Sex therapy, reframing and family counseling meetings are techniques that are incorporated into therapy sessions that can help aid in the stress and lack of communication that seem to be symptom of many relationships.
Because of today’s demanding lifestyles, it is difficult for families to spend adequate time together. It is important, however, that each family member has a part in family decisions. Communication is one of the leading causes for families to fall apart and become disoriented to one another. Family council meetings are organized to make available specified times for the couples or family to meet up face to face and share feelings with one another. It gives everybody the chance to talk and make decisions best suited for the family. The common rule for the building of decisions in the family council is to make decisions by agreement and compromise. Agreement on the decision means that everyone comes to a consensus. It is a decision that all family members feel good about and build upon open communication in future events.
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The meaning of any state of affairs or of any set of circumstances is discovered in the frame within which we perceive it. Reframing is about changing perception by understanding something in another way. It is a detailed counseling technique used by counselors to propose clients an alternative means of viewing problems or issues. It is basically inputting various positive perspectives on situations that are concerning, worrying or problematic for people.
The ability to reframe virtually any issue into a positive attribute establishes an atmosphere of acceptance and cooperation rather than one of “expert and subject” (Gardner, 1999). Furthermore, it helps with our overall reasoning and problem solving skills. It helps with continuous cognitive development. This is a fundamental shift in our cultural paradigm in that we are encouraged and rewarded to be problem-solvers from an early age (Gardner, 1999).
Many relationships between a man and women can refuse to accept seeking therapy for their challenges, especially when it comes to sex therapy. However, a quality sex life is a chief component for having a happy relationship, which is why sex therapy is a very useful tool for couples who are struggling with intimate difficulties. Many couples find it complicated to fit a healthy and therapeutic sexual lifestyle into their busy schedules and sexual stimulation is neglected due to various reasons. Also, there can be anywhere from 35 to 50 percent of people struggle with long-term sexual difficulties over the course of their lives (Baldaum, 2008). Sexual energy is powerful and can profoundly affect our mood, our thoughts, and our general state of being. Each person’s upbringing, culture, religion, and previous experiences can have an impact on sexuality (Baldaum, 2008). Without the sexual intimacy of a relationship, there can grow a giant void that inevitably ends in most people having plutonic relationships instead of being lovers. Sex therapy entails a counselor working directly with a couple to talk about the predicament, assess what might be going wide of the mark, and then talking to the couple and having them try a various number of approaches to develop their relationship, communication and lovemaking.
Christian Counseling Marriage and Family
“Christian” Counseling must counsel the soul with techniques generated by the Spirit of God; counseling which is not Christian counsels the soul with techniques generated by the spirit of this world (Gillham, 2012). The greatest differences between Christian and secular counselors is whether they will fall under the federal and state laws or follow the rules of the church. Christian counseling is also distinctive from secular counseling in that it explicitly uses the spiritual aspect of counseling, Biblical wrongs and rights, and a quest of of God’s word in a person’s life. Christian counselors do not have to support the “politically correct” notions of right and wrong. Secular therapists usually must be prepared to recognize homosexuality as a faultlessly common lifestyle, divorce as a pleasing conclusion of marital differences, and abortion as the possible solution for unwelcomed children.
With nearly 50 percent of all first-time marriages now ending in divorce, the Church is seeing more people in pain from broken relationships and families than ever before (Clinton, 2012). From a Christian perspective, marriage was a God-given institution: He desires that it be a lifelong commitment. Divorce was initiated because of human beings’ sinfulness. Deuteronomy 24 does not command divorce nor place God’s stamp of approval upon it. This passage is an attempt to regulate the more destructive aspects of divorce, a concession made, not because God desired it, but because of the hardness of human hearts (Vikler, 1978). In other words, God doesn’t want anybody to be in an unholy bad marriage, but using divorce as a tool a hatred felt by God: ” I hate divorce,” says the Lord God of Israel, ” (Mal. 2:16, NIV). It is a last resort for a Christian counselor and should be avoided at all costs if possible.
Christian Counselors refuse to condone or advocate for the pursuit of or active involvement in homosexual, transgendered, and cross-dressing behavior, and in the adoption gay and lesbian and transgendered lifestyles by clients (AACC, 2004). One of the theories concerning same sex attraction is that it occurs from the existence deep feelings of hurt, anger, and fear. In order to properly deal with the healing, the first step is evaluating past experiences, many times reliving them in order to let go of them; performing “emotional surgery of opening infected wounds”, applying the “alcohol” of the Holy Spirit, and sewing them up so that the scars can heal in a healthy way (Carvalho, 1989). So, even though the church does not recognize homosexuality as acceptable practice, they do recognize it as a problem that can be treatable.
An uneasy and cause of many debates, abortion is at the forefront of the church and a topic that most marriage and family counselors encounter in their career. Christian counselors refuse to condone or advocate for abortion and the abortion-related activities of clients (AACC, 2004). Many Christians suppose that a human life commences at the split second of conception. Still, others question the beginning of life. Is it at the moment of conception or when the heart starts thumping? The Bible states: I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb (Jeremiah 1:5, NIV), so reading form that passage, Christians accept that scripture to represent that any abortion will stop a human being God created from entering into the world.
And even though all counseling has the ultimate goal of helping others, there are many differences in their codes of ethics. The task of ethical reflection and the application of moral judgments to the life of the individual Christian falls not only to Christian pastors but also to Christian counselors, physicians, and–perhaps in some cases more so–to others closely associated with the person seeking help (Smith, 1984).
Being a marriage and family counselor is a daunting and emotional career field but also a rewarding job. Marriage and family counseling permits couples and various family members to work out problematic issues. Marriage and family therapists advance the welfare of families and individuals. They respect the rights of those persons seeking their assistance, and make reasonable efforts to ensure that their services are used appropriately (AAFMT, 2012).
Also, marriage and family therapy techniques cater to the health of couples and families relationships. Clients endear their trust in their counselors, and hope that their therapists will help find explanations and resolutions to their difficulties. If it is reframing, sex therapy or family counseling meetings, it is a center point to be have an open and honest relationship. Marriage and family counselors must therefore hold on to the highest and utmost standards of professional ethics and up to date therapy techniques to make certain that the trust placed in the clients is not abused.
For some counselors, working under state and federal guidelines is not the choice path. The road for some is working for the ultimate counselor: God. In Christian counseling, God has a progression for taking us from a busted and dysfunctional state and building people up so that they can function in a spiritual manner. Therapy has a clearly defined place in this spiritual growth process. Neither, abortion, divorce or homosexualality is too big or too complicated when it comes from the healing hands of God that the Christian counselor portrays. Jesus Christ-and His revelation in the Old and New Testaments of the bible-is the pre-eminent model for Christian counseling practice, ethics, and caregiving activities (AACC, 2004).