the three chapters in Yalom for our reading this week

Of the three chapters in Yalom for our reading this week, I found chapter 5, “Be Supportive” most meaningful. While I truly believe being able to demonstrate empathy is a quality that all counselors should possess, I don’t necessarily believe that applies to all counseling situations. Our biases as counselors can play a major factor in demonstrating empathy as can our own past experiences. For example, I was raised in a household where physical violence was not uncommon and substance abuse was the major contributing factor. When I decided to become a counselor, I admittedly choose not to work in the field of alcohol and substance use because my bias towards that population does not allow me to demonstrate the empathy it requires for a positive counselor/client relationship to form. I can however, as a counselor, demonstrate support and encouragement. I can praise a client for overcoming hard challenges, for hitting milestones in recovery, for accomplishing a goal or “step”. I found this Chapter and the acknowledgement that being supportive was important in the counseling field really meaningful because I have not actually heard it ever stated in this way before. Yalom (2009) discussed that he often “makes a point to express his positive thoughts and feelings about his patients”. Expressing positive observations and sentiments is something I can see myself doing more of in my role as a counselor. I often worried about the concept of being supportive fearing it would cross boundaries. Yalom gave great examples of being supportive even in the following chapter regarding empathy. His findings with his “experiment” with Ginny was that she often noted their sessions most notable moments when he “complimented her clothing or appearance or writing”. In that case he was demonstrating support and it was beneficial for the client to feel that, which improved the outcome of their meetings.

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