VISTAS Online is an innovative publication produced for ACA by Dr. Garry R. Walz and Dr. Jeanne C. Bleuer of Counseling Outfitters, LLC. Its purpose is to provide a means of capturing the ideas, information and experiences generated by the annual ACA Conference and selected ACA Division Conferences. Papers on a program or practice that has been validated through research or experience may also be submitted. This digital collection of peer-reviewed articles is authored by counselors, for counselors. VISTAS Online contains the full text of over 900 proprietary counseling articles published from 2004 to 2017.
Counseling and Human Suffering: An Approach to Healing
Richard F. Ponton
The alcoholic client, the depressed client, the divorcing, and the widowed client present in the counselor’s office with a problem. The cancer patient, the back patient, and the stroke patient present in the physician’s office with a problem. For both the physician and the mental health counselor, the fundamental question of response is the degree to which the presenting problem can be divorced from the person experiencing it. This fundamental question frames the thoughts, actions, and words of those providing care. In the realm of medicine, the words “illness,” “disease,” “pain,” and “suffering” take on specific meanings with specific implications (Cassell, 2004; Kleinman, 1988) for the helper and the patient. Similarly, in mental health the words “presenting problem,” “disorder,” and “suffering” hold distinct meanings.