The Voice of the Client on a Grander Scale
Written by: Robert J. Escandon MA, C.Ht.
The goal of counseling is to meet the needs of the clients and patients we meet, for the arching goal of bettering the world in which we live in. There is a correlation between a client’s mental health and the environment that they reside in. Many times, while this may be overlooked, it is very much present. When a counselor/therapist sits with an individual that is going through some sort of hardship within their lives, one can find a connection with that hardships not only on an internal level, but through an external representation as well. Being political and advocating for a client when necessary is part of the therapeutic endeavor.
A client will no doubt suffer from a mental obstruction if said client experiences an oppressive society. It is undoubtedly the case, that a person’s environment influences and affects a person’s well being. This affect can be one of a positive notion or one of a negative one. The environment will slowly change one’s perspective up until the point of becoming uncomfortable with one’s own surroundings. A counselor/therapist’s job is to not only have an intimate understanding of the mind and how it works both logically and abstractly, but they need to understand the historical and cultural context of the people within the society they are working in. When a problem for a patient goes beyond the scope of their immediate environment, and into a broader stage, the therapist must be aware of this. The therapist must then advocate on behalf of the clients issues in order to find a social solution for them (Crethar).
A therapist is the professional representative of the client. Like any other representative, the therapist must be knowledgeable, passionate and willing to go the extra mile for the clients that they represent. A healthier society starts with just one person willing and able to make the changes needed. These changes, within their perspective is interpersonal and therefore extended into the world around them. The change becomes a symbol of not only hope, but of possibility. Counseling/Therapy is multicultural by default. Knowing where a person comes from, is essential because being able to find social justice for one’s client is a necessity for a full therapeutic reprise. Social justice, within the scope of therapy is a multifaceted approach in addressing the problem that is experienced by the client, and outreaching to the larger group he/she represents. This is a form of empowerment and for the most part is an exercise in acknowledging and pushing for help and equality, while finding the right solutions for the client (Crethar).
Being a representative for a client/patient is at times very much needed. There is a concept that is called the Locus of Control. This concept describes the degree in which a person believes how much control he/she has over the world around them (MindTools). It is an interesting idea that many of us go through life thinking that our actions are outside of our control. Perhaps being controlled by unseen forces, luck, fate or even destiny. While reality is very fragile when it comes down to these abstract themes, there is a variety of people, that hold different ideas of how their reality is constructed. There are those that believe that their every action is within their control. Then, upon the opposite side of the coin, there are those that believe that they very little control over the world around them. The degree in which this occurs is an interesting one. Take a client that comes into the office that believes that their control of the world around them, their personal world is out of their control. Within the respect of being a representative of this individual, the therapist must exceed beyond the traditional scope of therapy. In a sense, the client’s reality becomes elusive, and the control is then adopted by the therapist only within the respect to help the client succeed therapeutically.
If fate and luck control our lives, then it’s all a matter of the right side of the coin landing upwards. If this was the case, perhaps our world would be in a completely different realm of existence. However, for those that believe in what ever they believe in, the therapist must be the representation of justice, for the problem that they are encountering. If said client feels that they are in complete control of their world, then the therapeutic endeavor takes on a different form all together.
Regardless of what the clients Locus of Control is, there is still the aspect of advocating for those who may or may not have a voice within our society.
We live in a world where our history has shaped our perspectives. Culturally, there are those who may come from other places, oppressive societies, refugees from war torn countries and other mishaps that are very real. These realities serve as an obstacle at times. And these clients, that are living with these obstacles have a very hard time in accessing the justice and assistance that they need in order to live the life they deserve. Society is constantly evolving. Movements and events affect everyone within our society. Whether these events are: war, political unrest, change in policies or a shortage of available work, the therapist must be the representative that takes the clients problem and opinion into the proper stage. Within this elevation, the problem becomes a symbol of need and a solution for change (Advocacy in Action). The need for advocacy has always been present. However, during our most antiquated recollection of history, it hasn’t always been around. The counseling profession, though fairly new is something that has always been needed.
When we look at the historical context of our society, whether it’s the colonization of the states, the problems with Great Britain and taxation or even allowing Cuban Refugees on to the shores of South Florida, all groups of people need a form of representation in order for their voice to be heard. There is an idea of justice but many different forms of implementation. However, there are basic human rights that are somewhat of a given to everyone living on planet Earth. According to the United Nations, basic human rights include: an overall the right to life, liberty and security, freedom of servitude, recognition of humanity and the right to be treated equally and fairly to simply name a few (United Nations). I believe that these guidelines are the key in securing the rights of all humans regardless of whether they are refugees, immigrants or otherwise.
I believe that as we go forward within our society, that we will continue to encounter prejudice and oppression. History builds a foundation of various perspectives towards the people in the multitudes of civilizations upon the Earth. For the most part, the voices that are not heard are the very voices that need advocacy on their behalf. The action of one person, does not represent the intentions of the entirety of the cultural group. This is a reminder that needs to be continued, regardless of how many times it is repeated. The problems we encounter with certain cultural groups, are sometimes misconstrued as the proposed actions of everyone that is part of said group.
Education is constant, and the need for it increasingly becomes more important. An individual can be communicated with, on an intellectual and responsive setting. This is key in order to address concerns and the exploration of individual therapeutic problems that can be taken to a broader stage. Once this is the case, that broader stage becomes a sort of listening post for the world. The individual then becomes the symbol and in on itself, a representative the group they stem from. If the client is well educated and informed, then they break a sort of barrier for the world to see them and the cultural group in a different light. This is of the utmost important when looking at therapeutic solutions on a social level. May times dealing with a client on a one on one basis isn’t enough. The therapist must push to find the broader stage, the bigger conversation. If the solution can be applied to the individual, the chances of that individual and the solution itself becoming a symbol is increased ten fold.
This is ultimately the forward goal of any therapeutic endeavor. The frameworks in which people find their base templates from, can be a tool used in order to find the therapeutic justice of not only the individual, but of the group that they ultimately represent.
http://www.txca.org/images/tca/Template/TXCSJ/Why_social_justice_is_a_counseling_concern.pdf . Counseling for Justice. Hugh C. Crethar. Web 28 May. 2016.
Sue, D. W., & Sue, D. Counseling the Culturally Diverse: Theory and Practice (6th ed.). 2013: Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Rogers, Carl R. On Becoming a Person (2nd ed.). 1995: Mariner Books, New York.
https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newCDV_90.htm. MindTools: Locus of Control. Web 27 May. 2016.
http://ct.counseling.org/2014/04/advocacy-in-action/. Counseling Today: Advocacy in Action. Web 26 May. 2016.
http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/. United Nations: Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Web 27 May. 2016.
About the Author
Mr. Escandon is a graduate of Saint Thomas University, holds a Masters in History and Culture and has been a therapist for over 14 years. Mr. Escandon is a certified Hypnotherapist and also holds certifications in Life Coaching and NLP. Robert is also an award winning filmmaker, writer and avid martial artist. “I still believe that Bruce Lee is one of the greatest thinkers of our time.”