Working as a nurse/midwife remained as one of the taunting job in the medical world. In line with this, one of the issues that arose on a daily basis was embedded in the fact that one had to face numerous challenges that emerged from the limited number of nurses/midwifes as well as the large number of patients who needed their services. Therefore, there were numerous cases of having to work overtime that would arise in the course of one’s careers as a nurse/midwife. One such case regards Tina, who worked in this position. In a counseling session with her, Tina cited different cases in which she had to work extra time under the encouragement of her ward manager irrespective of the fact that this was very tiring. At the end of the day, Tina had always found herself to be very tired especially after attending her part-time classes. This was not the case for Tina alone. Her colleagues too went through the same ordeal daily. However, Tina argued that she listened to music as a way of relaxing her mind.
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There are several issues that arose during the counseling session with Tina as my client regarding my ability to carry out a counseling session and take note of important issues in a person’s life. In this respect, I will begin by looking at my strengths. To begin with, I have a nice voice that could make my listener to be comfortable. In this regard, most of the people I talked to on a daily basis found it easier to listen to me because of my gifted voice. With this in mind, when I began talking to client, she relaxed herself and was able to listen to me without difficult. According to Lauwers & Swisher (2010), the sound of another person can be so pleasant to the point of enhancing your exchange while at the same time, the manner of speech can create a warm, friendly, and even a humorous atmosphere (p.84). In other words, my voice contributed towards lessening the tension that could have hindered my counseling session with my client. Note that this relaxed atmosphere contributed to her opening up and sharing deeply the challenges she faced at her workplace combined with her studies.
Apart from having a nice and soft voice, my client was also able to understand the questions that I asked her. In this regard, my questions were simple and to the point. This enabled her to talk freely to me as well as give answers that were critical in gathering the information that I needed from her. For instance, when I asked her what she did in such conditions, i.e. what she did when she was stressed as a result of her stressful work, she was quick to respond that she listened to music as a way of relaxing her mind from all this. Similarly, my client also understood my perception towards her job and my feelings for stressful job. In spite of the fact that I was the one carrying out the counseling session, my feelings towards my client’s complains were vital in extracting important information from my client. In reference to Rao (2002), being understood was the basic need of an individual and it reflected the fact that one was loved, liked and accepted by the others (p.119). In this respect, my client’s ability to understand me and my ability to understand her too resulted in the success of this counseling session, as opposed to when understanding was lacking.
During the counseling session, I focused all my attention towards my client. This was meant to ensure that I did not miss any issue that arose from our conversation. To further enhance this, I maintained enough eye contact. Apart from assuring her that I was concentrating to what she was saying, I was also able to note instances where her words were off course and as a result contained the conversation by bringing it back to course. Similarly, my eye contact with her brought an assurance that what she was telling me was actually what happened in her life on a daily basis. By maintaining eye contact, I was also able to note her feelings and reactions when she spoke concerning certain issues such as stress at her workplace and music as a way of relaxation. Costigan (2004) argues that eye contact is the non-verbal behavior most likely to be addresses by counselors in the that eye contact or lack of eye contact has diagnostic significance with counselor attributing negative traits to the avoidance of eye contact (p.47). However, during the counseling session with my client, I can argue that positive traits were brought out well since eye contact was maintained.
During the counseling session, I recognized the issues that my client was going through. In this respect, whereas I avoided being carried away by these issues, my focus allowed me to recognize the stress she went through on a daily basis as well as recognize the fact that her music therapy was an important aspect that lessened this stress. I affirmed to her that I understood her situation and shared with her the fact that this could be so stressing to her. In other words, my strength that enabled her to open up even further relied on the fact that I had empathy towards her and as a result of realizing that I was not just questioning her for the sake of it but was concerned with her life gave her more confidence to open up. Silverman (1997) reiterates that empathy means entering the private perceptual world of the other and becoming thoroughly at home in it; it involved being sensitive, moment by moment, to the changing felt meaning which flow in the other person (p.221). In this respect, I was able to enter into the life of Tina and completely feel how she felt while working as a nurse/midwife while at the same time studying. Furthermore, the information that I obtained from her was thorough and relevant as a result of having empathy.
Aside from having empathy towards my client, another strength during the counseling session was implanted in the fact that I was also able to recognize her difficulty and suffering. In this regard, I realized that my client had difficulty working and studying at the same time. In addition to this, I recognized the fact that my client was often stressed with work together with her colleagues. However, whereas this was the case for her, she had come to a realization that listening to music was an appropriate therapy for her. Therefore, I advised her to teach others this therapeutic technique as it would ease the tension at her work place by reducing the amount of stress that was reflected among her colleagues. Similarly, since listening to music had proved as an important therapeutic treatment to her, I emphasized to her to continue listening to music as a way of relaxing herself as well as teach this technique to others, including family members, friends and as cited above, to colleagues at the workplace. My advice to her was culminated by encouraging to her to pass by my place every time she was faced with a challenge. This was to encourage her to open up every moment she faced a problem in her life rather than keeping to herself, a factor that worsened the situation.
In reference to Munro, Manthei & Small (1989), advice should be given as little as possible; only when requested, and only after careful listening has ensued that the counselor understands the client’s situation (p.70). In this respect, I took a careful analysis of my client’s issues by listening to her. My advice to her came nearly at the end of the session when I realized that her therapeutic method could also help her colleagues to lessen stress in their lives. Similarly, since her stress had often been lessened by listening to music, I advised her to continue listening to music during stressful moments as this was of help. More importantly, my advice ensued from my conversation with my client and was based strictly on the conversation I had with her. In other words, nothing came out of the conversation. I believe this was critical to my client who could implement my advice without difficult since nothing was foreign to her. This was particularly important since my client realized that the answers to most of her challenges were always there with her. Stated in other words, I only acted to guide her to solutions she was in possession of.
There are various limitations that arose from the counseling session. To begin with, the physical setup was not the most appropriate for this counseling session. As a result of this, I was unable to relax. I was too tense. For instance, after greetings, my client said that she felt ‘It makes me feel so hard and low mood’. Instead of affirming to her that I understand, I was a bit surprised that she felt ‘low mood’. This forced her to restate again how she was feeling. This could have affected the way my client responded to some of the questions that I asked her. It is important to understand that a tensed environment always results in ineffectiveness in creating rapport between two or more people who are engaged in a conversation. In this regard, the situation could have been worse had my client been a person I did not know. Nonetheless, since my client was somebody I knew, I was able to gather the information I needed without a lot of difficult.
There are different areas that need improvement in my counseling sessions. To begin with, I have to learn how to make more reflection on the feeling of my clients. In this particular counseling session, my reflection on the feelings of my client was limited. For instance, at the beginning of the session, I filled the gap regarding the feelings of my client by assuming that these feelings resulted from her work instead of letting her to do it. As result of this, I shifted my focus to how she dealt with her feelings before even having a full understanding of how she was feeling.
Similarly, I need to learn new skills and approaches for counseling sessions. In line with this, one of the skills I need to acquire regards the strengths-based counseling session technique. This technique had a certain formula of approaching the counseling session. In reference to Sharry (2004), it outlined the stages that were supposed to be covered in order to emerge with a successful counseling session that included the joining stage, establishing goals, reviewing progress and clarifying next steps. These stages were in some cases interchanged to cover a lot of issues during the counseling session. For instance, from the counseling session with my client, I failed to focus on establishing the goals of the session. On the contrary, the session could have been more beneficial if these goals had been established. Similarly, the joining stage was poor and future counseling sessions would need to revise this stage to create a favorable counseling environment.