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Michael Walters Jun 7, 2011

Counseling and Driver’s Education: Reflection on Similarities

In addition to working as a high school counselor for more than a decade, I have also been teaching driver’s education for more than a decade. Over the years, I have noticed that counseling and teaching driver’s education actually share some unique similarities that I think my fellow counselors may find interesting.

In both counseling and driver’s education, a major goal is to help individuals learn how to navigate successfully throughout their lives. For example, with counseling, individuals are often seeking knowledge, skills, and perspective which will help them to successfully navigate their academic, career, and personal/social concerns and goals. Similarly, with driver’s education, individuals are seeking to acquire the knowledge of traffic laws, to learn the skills of making good driving judgments, and to learn how to view driving situations so that they are prepared for hazards and emergencies. In short, in both counseling and driver’s education, individuals are trying to learn knowledge, skills, and perspective on how to navigate safely and effectively to reach their goals.

One of my most interesting observations of the similarities between counseling and driver’s education is noticing that an individual’s cognitive, affective, behavioral, and systemic or environmental situation provide a pivotal role on how well an individual will be able to successfully navigate in life and on the road. In counseling, if an individual’s cognitions are negative or not based on fact, this will impact affective domain of the individual. Likewise, if an individual’s family situation (systemic domain) is a negative influence, this will impact the individual’s behavioral domain. For example, let’s say that an individual has a goal of exercising daily. However, if the individual’s family does not value exercise, it may be difficult for the individual to achieve the goal of daily exercise. In a similar way with driving, let’s say that a teen driver has the goal of driving safely. However, if the teen’s peer group passengers (systemic domain) value speed and recklessness, then the teen driver will most likely have difficulty achieving the behavior of driving safely.

Summing-up, from my experiences as a counselor and a driver’s education instructor for the past decade, I have noticed that counseling and driver’s education have some similarities. At a basic level, counseling helps individuals learn knowledge, skills, and perspective to help them navigate through many obstacles and options to reach their goals. Driver’s education also helps individuals learn knowledge, skills, and perspective to help them navigate safely on the many roads and obstacles in the highway transportation system. Secondly, in order for driver’s education to be safe, the driver needs to understand how cognitive, affective, behavioral, and systemic domains can impact driving safely. Likewise, in order for counseling to be effective, helping individuals understand, strengthen, and develop their cognitive, affective, behavioral, and systemic or environmental domains is vital so that they will be able to navigate successfully through many anticipated, unanticipated, expected and unexpected transitions and experiences throughout the life-span.

Michael Walters is a high school counselor and a licensed professional counselor. He has a special interest in strengthening family relationships and empowering individuals to reach their goals.

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