This past week during my sessions, I happened to come across a couple of difficult scenarios that I remember learning about through my classes in graduate school. They have made me realize all over again that, although necessary, coursework does not always prepare counselors for the real world! For the situations below, I could give you a description of the appropriate steps one should generally follow in order to address the main issues involved. However, I found the task of actually applying them to not be as straightforward.
1. “I don’t want you to tell my mother, but I did _________ last night.”
Fill in the blank with something illegal and there you have it – a conundrum for the counselor. To make matters even more complicated? This particular client who said this is a minor, but will be turning 18 years old soon. After ensuring that the illegal activity was not an imminent threat to anyone, my goal was to help the client come forward to his mother on his own terms, in order to understand that her involvement would be constructive and not as scary as he initially perceived.
2. “Do you feel prepared to counsel children, when you don’t have any of your own?”
Fortunately, no parent of a child or adolescent client has ever asked me this directly, but the comment led to an interesting conversation among friends recently. Those with children stated that they would prefer a counselor with parenthood experience. Others claimed that since counselors are supposed to leave their personal biases out, it didn’t make a difference whether they had children of their own.
What are your thoughts on these scenarios? Please share below!
Sadaf Siddiqi is a certified counselor with an interest in mental health research and its application to children and families. Please share your thoughts with her at email@example.com.