Ray McKinnis

Ray McKinnis

Ray McKinnis is a counselor with special interest in 'spirituality beyond religion' and veterans 'beyond PTSD'.  He is now on staff with New Hope Clinical Services, LLC. nhclinicalservices.com

  • Beware! The Behavior We Stroke is the Behavior We Get!

    Jun 07, 2012
    We counselors have an almost impossible challenge: we have to facilitate a client into more functional and satisfying behavior patterns within a system that strokes dysfunctional behavior. From the very first, clients come to us (or are sent to us) because they are (or someone else is) dissatisfied with some aspect of their functioning—this very act is a process in which dysfunctional behavior results in lots of attention—lots of strokes. We as counselors are challenged to help them develop other behaviors which are more functional in getting strokes, all the time giving them attention because they have a problem. People don’t come to us because they are happy or successful or satisfied with their relationships or job or life in general—those sources of strokes that make individuals ‘winners’.
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  • Are We Being Held Hostage?

    Apr 30, 2012
    The hostage negotiator Kohlrieser in his fascinating book, Hostage at the Table, describes how the idea of being a hostage can be a truly fertile metaphor for what we do as counselors. In some important sense, every client whom we have feels like they are being held hostage by forces they think they are unable to control. Basically, our job as counselors is to help that person reclaim their power and autonomy and thereby their happiness. I also sense a strong sense of victimhood pervasive among counselors.
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  • Do You Want to Be the Best Counselor You Can Be?

    Apr 12, 2012
    When calling a help desk, how often have you heard a phrase like ‘This call may be recorded for quality assurance?’ I would suggest that as counselors, the easiest and most effective way to continuously improve our counseling is to record sessions and carefully listen to them later—listening for where we were brilliant and where we can think of other options we might have tried. From my counseling perspective, I would listen for responses I made where I enhanced the client’s experience of their own power and autonomy and for responses I made which discounted or prevented the client from owning their own ability to take charge of their lives.
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  • Watch Your Pronouns

    Mar 05, 2012
    One thing I find so refreshing about reading these ACA blogs is the use of pronouns. The most prominent pronouns used are the pronouns ‘I’ or ‘we’ referring to us as counselors. This makes sense because as counselors, our major subject is relationships and pronouns are the ‘bones’ of those relationships. Pronouns not only express relationships, they create them and hold them in place. For a person to change, they must ‘change their pronouns’.
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  • A Spirituality is Critical for a Counselor

    Jan 17, 2012
    [I realize last year I wrote my ‘Last Blog’. But because Rebecca Daniel-Burke left the door open for me to offer an occasional blog and several readers responded so encouragingly to that ‘last’ blog, I have decided to use the ACA blog as a way to clear out ideas that continue to make their home in my mind--ideas that could be useful to us a counselors.] Andrew Harvey in his amazingly personally honest book, The Hope: A Guide to Sacred Activism, describes the dangers of being morally sensitive without a sense of some dimension the ‘beyond’. I would like to assert quite absolutely that it is (almost—I’m hedging) impossible for a counselor to be available to many clients honestly and accurately without some sense of a ‘spiritual’ dimension. Individuals in this world experience unimaginable brutality, cruelty, pain and suffering. We as counselors must deal with such individuals. To do so we strength and resources equal to the task in order to listen carefully, acknowledge their experiences and help clean up the mess of such, truly, unimaginable, indeed transcendent cruelty. If we don’t have that strength, we can easily either become overwhelmed, depressed or worse; or just as bad, numb ourselves and ignore the brutality that some of our clients have had to face. Psychological theories are based rational observation supported by evidence carefully collected—the cruelty I am talking about is irrational.
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