Counseling

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This page describes the views of Why This Way on Counseling, particularly psychological counseling or talk therapy. In Why This Way, we have discussed counseling both from the perspective of discussing our own experiences, positive and negative, in counseling, and with the goal of developing our own guidelines or practices for counseling, which we hope to implement.

Our own practices of counseling are designed to address some of the common shortcomings of the types of psychotherapy that are in widespread practice. Some of the core ideas in our counseling system are consent, our rules of communication, and the idea of a healthy state, all of which are key elements of our core beliefs and practices.

Contents

Our counseling practices

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Our counseling practices involve someone in the role of a therapist, and someone who is receiving counseling. Both people would agree to follow the process of communication and try to follow the rules of communication, with the exception of when a person is venting, described below.

A key concept in the method of counseling we are developing is the setting and respecting of boundaries. Both the person in the therapist role, and the person receiving counseling can set boundaries, and are required to respect them.

  • Show unconditional positive regard, both for the person being counseled, and for other people mentioned in the counseling session.
  • Go over the rules at the beginning of counseling
  • Get explicit consent from a person before engaging in any of the following:
  • Venting or inducing venting
  • Analyzing anything mentioned when a person is venting
  • Giving advice
  • Sharing personal experience
  • The therapist must ask for consent in the form of "Do you want..." rather than "May I..." ?

Venting

Venting describes a scenario in which a person shares a lot of thoughts, feelings, or experiences, often with less of a filter than they normally would have. In the context of our counseling, venting is one exception (the other being encapsulating a statement) in which a person is allowed to break the rules of communication without being interrupted or having their statements challenged. When a person is venting, their primary goal or intention is usually to express themselves or get ideas out. As with any of the rest of our counseling practices, both the person in the therapist role, and the person receiving counseling must consent to venting before it happens, and it can be halted if either person withdraws consent.

This consent aims to address a problem which can arise during mainstream counseling, which is that a therapist can sometimes induce a person to vent or open up about a topic, in such a way that it leads them into a state of mind that they don't want to be in. From the therapist's perspective, the consent can also protect them from a situation in which they feel the venting is impacting them in a negative way.

Advice giving

We explicitly require consent before giving advice, in large part because people being counseled do not always want advice, and we only want the therapist to give it if the advice is wanted.

Confidentiality

We have discussed the topic of confidentiality and have not yet reached a consensus on where we want to set boundaries about confidentiality in our counseling.

How to ask for consent

We require the therapist to ask for consent in the form of "Do you want..." rather than "May I..." for several reasons. "May I..." can come across as more of a leading question, which can make it more likely that a person will consent in the case that they feel ambivalent about giving consent. We also want the question to be phrased "Do you want..." so as to help the person to become aware of and express what they really want. The "Do you want..." phrasing is also more centered on the person being asked, whereas the "May I..." phrasing places more emphasis on the person asking.