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or Passive Counseling?
speaking, counseling can be divided into two camps; passive and active.
is important in all approaches to counseling for the client and counselor to get
along and in particular, for the client to feel that the counselor may be
helpful in mitigating distress. However, in passive approaches to counseling, it
is the relationship that is paramount to the outcome.
passive approaches to counseling, the counselor provides a safe and inviting
environment wherein the client can explore feelings, behaviour and attitudes.
The more passive the process, the less likely the counselor will add much
to the exploration or content, save from reflecting back points of interest to
the client or asking the client to go to greater depth on a particular theme.
The theory is that as the client gains comfort in the self-exploration and feels
safe in terms of the therapeutic relationship with the counselor, the more that
will be naturally disclosed, particularly untoward memories or circumstances
that are at the root of the client’s distress. As these distressing
recollections or circumstances are then disclosed, the client gains opportunity
to reflect upon them more openly and thus gain insight and control of these
matters affecting his or her life. Passive approaches to counseling generally
take months to years to be helpful and is well suited to persons who may have
been traumatized by life events where bringing those events to the foreground is
intimidating. It is also well suited to persons who tend to balk at the input of
others, seemingly well defended against the direct opinions of others. Passive
approaches to counseling are also well suited to persons seeking longer-term
emotional support as they cope with and manage on-going life problems.
it is helpful for the client and counselor to get along, with active approaches
to counseling, it is not a fundamental requirement per se. In active approaches
to counseling it is the belief by the client that the counselor holds
specialized knowledge and skills and can thus direct the client to relief of
distress that is paramount.
active approaches to counseling, the client seeks a counselor to advise and
direct, or provide guidance to mitigate the presenting problem. The more active
the counseling, the more likely the counselor will control the process, asking
questions, directly addressing issues of concern and probing for matters the
client may not voluntarily disclose. The theory here is that the counselor, by
directly probing for and exposing issues of concern, can more readily address
the issues with direct guidance. Further, there is likely a belief held by the
counselor, that no matter how comfortable a client feels in the counseling
context the client still will not easily or readily disclose distressful
recollections or circumstances. Hence it is better to ask questions forthrightly
then develop a long-term therapeutic relationship conducive to disclosure and
wait. Active approaches to counseling generally takes weeks to a few months to
be helpful and is well suited to persons seeking more immediate solutions and
who are open to direct feedback and guidance. Length of counseling may be longer
if the client is reluctant to follow the directives or guidance of the counselor
or only partially heeds the direction of the counselor. Active approaches to
counseling is also better suited to persons who are not looking for longer-term
emotional support, but who are seeking to change current conditions of distress.
passive approaches to counseling developed out of psychoanalytic traditions
where the client would explore formative experiences and come to realize how
those experiences shaped their lives. Upon such recognition, the clients are
then presumably able to recognize and develop their own solutions to problems.
approaches to counseling, developed from cognitive and behavioural schools of
psychology where the psychologist would track behaviour and thoughts to then
interrupt the dysfunctional behaviour or thoughts and replace with more
functional behaviour or thoughts. From a social work perspective, active
approaches also developed from an intent to alter social situations or
structures thought to give rise to problems of relationships, thus distressing
Passive or active? Depends on whether the client is seeking emotional support and a deeper understanding of the root of their distress, or to directly and quickly relieve distress that is undermining one’s well-being and social functioning.
Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
Call Gary for your next conference and for expert opinion on family matters. Services include counselling, mediation, assessment, assessment critiques and workshops.
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