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Consultant Value System
Each person has his own system of values, which determines his decisions and how he perceives the surrounding world and other people. We are talking about the most important life criteria. The consultant's value system determines the initial premises for counseling. Any personality problem, as R. May (1967) notes, is a moral problem; in other words, each personality problem has its own moral implication. The very question itself, often asked in counseling and psychotherapy, is "How should I live?" - is essential for all moral systems. Here the second question arises: to what extent does the consultation process itself have or should have the character of a value discussion, and also to what extent should the values of the consultant “participate” in the consultation process. If the answer to the first question is more or less clear - the client’s problems should be perceived as a consequence of mental and spiritual ill health, and not as an object of morality - then there are two extreme positions on the second question.
One of them - the consultant should be “objective”, value-neutral and not bring his life philosophy and value system into consultative relations. He must fully concentrate on customer values. This does not mean that the consultant who does not have his own system of values is considered ideal — he simply should not take a certain position on the moral and value aspects during the consultation. The meaning of this setting of the consultant is justified by the fact that in the process of consulting the client, often thanks to outside encouragement, learns to change the initial premises of his behavior; self-esteem is formed on the basis of the internalization of the ratings of others. C. Patterson (1958; cited in George, Cristiani, 1990) also points out a number of reasons why a consultant should avoid influencing client values:
- the life philosophy of each individual is unique and undesirable to impose it on others;
- no one consultant can claim to have a fully developed, adequate philosophy of life;
-The most suitable places for the assimilation of values are family, church and school, and not the office of the consultant;
- an individual develops his own ethical system, using not one source and not one day, but under the influence of many life factors and over a long period of time;
- no one can prevent another person from forming a unique philosophy of life, which would be the most meaningful for him;
- the client has the right to reject the ethical principles and philosophy of life of another person.
At the opposite extreme is the opinion of E. Williamson (1958; cited by George, Cristiani, 1990), according to which the consultant must openly and clearly demonstrate his value position to the client, since the attempt to be neutral in value situations encourages the client to consider what the consultant considers acceptable. and justifiable socially, morally and legally harmful behavior. This is the position of an educator who knows what is good and what is bad.
It is difficult to agree with both extreme opinions. If you really look at the situation of counseling, it will become clear that it is completely impossible to completely exclude the values of a consultant; worldview aspects from consultative contact with a client are simply impossible if counseling is understood as a relationship between two people, and not as something mechanical or pre-programmed. The consultant should clearly know his values, not hide them from the client and not avoid value discussions at consultative meetings, since many problems are hidden precisely in value conflicts of clients or in their misunderstanding of their own value system.
However, the clear value position of the consultant does not imply moralizing and moralizing. In any case, the influence of the values of the consultant on the client has its own ethical side, if we recognize that the goals put forward by the consultant and the methods used reflect his philosophy of life. Even without directly imposing our values on the client, however, adhering to a certain philosophy in the work, we inevitably “bring” our counseling to the system of essential issues of life into counseling.
Client: a woman of 30 years, married, has three children, the eldest of them is 10 years old. The problem she asked for help was the difficulty in deciding whether to keep the marriage or divorce her husband, whom she describes as not caring for her and children, completely immersed in her work, boring and smug. The husband refused to participate in counseling to solve family problems, claiming that everything was fine with him, and his wife needed to be treated, since this is her problem. The client claims that she would divorce immediately if not for the children, who, in her opinion, need a father. Its main difficulty lies in the need to decide whether to keep the family, i.e., choose stability, neglecting relations with her husband, or still get a divorce, i.e. risk essentially changing your life. She sees one of the acceptable solutions in preserving the family and in connection with another man (or men) in order to satisfy her emotional and physical needs.
In the confrontation with this particular case, the consultant has many value questions. One of the reasons a client keeps a marriage is the interests of children. What does the consultant think about this - is it more beneficial for children to have both parents in an unsuccessful model of the relationship between a man and a woman, or is it better for them to witness a divorce? What does the consultant think about marriage, family, divorce, the situation of children in the family? The client talks about extramarital affairs. What does the consultant think about their legitimacy? Are these connections useful or destructive for the life of the client? What does the consultant think about the need for safety and risk in human life? The consultation process and its outcome will depend to a large extent on the answers to the questions asked.
According to G. Corey (1986), a counselor or psychotherapist, wishing to avoid value conflicts in the counseling process, should have a clear position on some issues. The most important areas in which the position of a consultant is important are family, sex, abortion, religion, drugs.
It is infinitely important for a consultant to know how his values influence the course of counseling so that he can be himself and yet avoid imposing his own installations on clients. The life philosophy of each person and his values are unique. It would be too arrogant to think that only a consultant knows what a “good and righteous life” is. On the other hand, the neutrality of the consultant means either his ambivalence with respect to values, or the fact that he only cares about “protecting” the counseling process from his values, and this hinders authenticity and sincerity. In the counseling process, we must help clients most fully identify their value system and make an independent decision on its basis how they can change their behavior or even their values. Consequently, the consultant raises questions, and the client seeks and finds the answers based on their own values. The consultant, focusing on his system of values, also helps the client better understand the consequences of certain decisions, actions for his own life and the well-being of those close to him.
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