my beliefs values and clinical gestalt with individuals and systems paper

The main goal of the Social Service professional is to assist individuals in meeting their basic physical and emotional needs, when one cannot meet his or her needs on their own. Generally speaking this objective is straight forward, but there are times when we will come across clients who we may find hard to accept. In this field there will be clients who hold; various belief systems, values, cultural background, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or criminal past we are unfamiliar with or don’t necessarily agree with.

It is essential for the counselor to recognize the areas that affect them the most and work on building empathy for the individuals they may not understand. This can be a very daunting task that requires us to look deep inside ourselves and explore feelings and beliefs that we feel strongly about. In general I consider myself a relatively empathetic individual, but even I know that this is not true in all cases. We all have our own personal belief system, values, past experiences, and cultural beliefs that shape us into the person we are.

Naturally there will be times in our lives when these systems are challenged and questioned and we are forced to deal with them head on. The important thing to keep in mind when our values are challenged is to assure we recognize that accepting the individual we are not condoning their behavior. : As clinicians, we need to be aware of our values and how they influence our response to clients in ways that may leave them feeling unaccepted. Clinicians must be dedicated to being nonjudgmental- unconditionally accepting people for who they are without necessarily accepting all of their behaviors (Murphy 2003).

As the text book states accepting their behaviors and accepting the individual are two complete different issues and it is possible to do one without the other. This idea is definitely a task that is challenging, because it is human nature to hold negative feeling and thoughts against actions we may not comprehend. However, by becoming a Human Service professional we have accepted the task on helping others despite their lifestyle or behaviors, not just helping those we chose to help.

It is not fair to judge or criticize a person for what they have done in their lives. We have to be the positive reinforcement in their life, because more than likely they deal with nothing but negativity on a daily basis. After completing exercise 4. 3 “Clients We Might Find Hard to Accept” I discovered that my list was in order of cases I feel comfortable dealing with and or somewhat familiar with to the bottom of the list, which consisted of issues that were unfamiliar and uncomfortable to me or had that I felt strongly against.

I understand that to improve on the uncomfortable feelings I need to continue to educate myself on the unfamiliar allowing myself to gain a larger perspective on why the clients behave the way they do. Personally, it would be challenging for me to empathize with individuals who are child molesters, rapist, child abusers, murderers, and any other crime that is intentional and malicious in nature. Despite this feeling I know that even in these cases the individual deserves the right to receive empathy and the opportunity for assistance despite their situation.

Though it may be difficult I must have the ability to put myself in the client’s shoes to fully comprehend their situation. : Even more simply stated, empathy is the ability to “put oneself in another’s shoes. ” In an essay entitled “Some Thoughts on Empathy,” Columbia University psychiatrist Alberta Szalita stated, “I view empathy as one of the important mechanisms through which we bridge the gap between experience and thought. ” A few sentences earlier in her essay, she had emphasized that … “[empathy is] consideration of another person’s feelings and readiness to respond to his [or her] needs … ithout making his [or her] burden one’s own (Hardee 2003). I fully understand this ideal, but continue to struggle with how I can put myself in someone else’s shoes when it is something I cannot even begin to comprehend in the first place. I know that it would be grueling for me to use this concept in the case of pedophiles and child molesters, which I have absolutely no empathy towards. I feel that with my strong feelings against these individuals I must either work on building empathy or decide not work with these individuals all together.

It would be unprofessional of me to accept a case with one of these clients if I felt that my feelings could possibly interfere with the progression or benefit of the client. In the future I will do my best to confront my feeling, I know that more than likely a pedophile & child molesters were abused themselves as children, and that they were also victims at one point. Moving forward I will continue to work on my empathy skills, which are essential and directly related to my ability to work with clients who challenge my values and belief system. This usually occurs simultaneously with decreased egocentrism. But from there, we must practice building empathy and seek out opportunities to do so. It requires experiential learning and practice, a desire to connect deeply with another person, motivation and imagination to step into another’s reality, as well as learning to listen intently and verbally acknowledging a person’s experience. These skills often are part of compassionate communication (Mallers 2010).

As the article states empathy is something that comes with creating a broader range of understanding through education and of course practice, whether I agree with the individual or not. I cannot allow my beliefs or ideal to get in the way of helping another. The art of working with those we have a hard time accepting is a tough and ongoing learning process. The key to remember is that we are not accepting their actions, but accepting the individual. Cases that go against our morals can definitely be more challenging than others, but should be seen as a way to grow as an individual and counselor.

Works Cited

Hardee, MD, James T. “An Overview of Empathy.” The Permanente Journal. Fall 2003. Web. 30 Nov. 2010. . Dillon, Carolyn. “Chapter 4: Support and Empathy.” Interviewing in Action: Relationship, Process, and Change. By Bianca Cody Murphy. 2e ed. Thompson Learning, 2003. Print Mallers PHD, Melanie Horn. “Building Empathy.” Cccfcs. Web. 30 Nov. 2010. .

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