Artifacts from a minimum of 4 in class developmental activities with BRIEF written reflections highlighting what you thought, felt, did as a result of participating and hearing from others.

9/29/2022- Expert, Friend, Parent, or Mirror?

This in-class developmental activity required the class to break up into groups depending on which title they most attributed to that of a counselor. The four options given to choose from were expert, friend, parent, and mirror. The majority of the class, with myself included, joined the mirror group. The second biggest group was friend, followed by expert. No one chose parent. One by one starting with the expert group, each team had the chance to explain their choice. The “experts” main point was about how clients come to counselors because of their expertise related to mental health, and the fact they are licensed professionals. The “friends” main point emphasized the therapeutic relationship between clients and counselors, and the supportive and accepting nature attributed to counselors as well as friends. The “mirrors” main point emphasized the reflective nature of counselors, and how clients come to counseling to learn more about themselves. Overall, everyone in the class seemed to enjoy this activity and got really excited about defending their choice. We all learned more about the different facets of what it means to be a counselor, and got to hear from our classmates their personal opinions on the matter.

9/13/2022- Panel Discussion

For this class we had a panel discussion with 5 counselors who came to talk about their experiences in the field. Ben and Mike are counselors from private practices, while Mike doubles as a professor and Ben works with juvenile sex offenders. Kaylee and Mary are both school counselors, with Kaylee having experience with High School students before switching to primary school, and Mary having a caseload of 770 students at her elementary school. Meanwhile, Nick is a substance abuse counselor in Henreico. I loved the different specialties and experiences each counselor brought to the discussion. They talked about advice for graduate students, important moments making them confident in their career choice, self-care and work-life boundaries, and general information about their specialty areas. Some topics stuck out for me more than others, but overall I enjoyed hearing about their experiences and personal stories. I liked hearing from Kaylee and Mary’s school counselor perspectives because I want to work with children in my future as well, so I enjoyed listening to the emotional regulation and coping strategies they use daily. I enjoyed listening to Ben and Mike’s perspectives because I also want to work in a private practice. Moreover, I had never heard about counseling specifically for sexual offenders, so I thought Ben had a very unique perspective. I also enjoyed listening to Nick’s experience with substance abuse, especially because I interned at Longwood Recovers during my undergrad. Something that I will take with me from this discussion is to ensure I am advocating for myself with getting certifications and training I need for my professional development. I will also be focusing on my self-care and keep up with hobbies and activities that bring me happiness.

10/20/2022- Lifespan Development and Crises

During this class activity, the class was divided into assigned groups of five. Each group was representing one stage of the lifespan, including early childhood, middle childhood, early/middle adolescence, late adolescence/emerging adulthood, and later adulthood. Each group was required to discuss three to four crises typical of individuals in their stage of development before narrowing them down to one. Once the crisis was determined, each team discussed safety implications, professional obligations, and the role of prevention/intervention. Following our discussions, each team had a chance to present their discussions to the class as a whole. I was assigned to the early/middle adolescence group. We had a lot of different crises that we deemed as typical during this stage of development, including reflecting on our own experiences. Our four main crises identified were bullying, sexuality confusion, increase risk for suicide, and body-image concerns. We ended up choosing body-image concerns because of connections with negative self-image, eating disorders, and body dysmorphia. Safety concerns related to this specific crisis included the development of unhealthy habits, an increased risk for suicide, bullying, and developing an eating disorder. We also discussed the implications around the media promoting unrealistic body-images, family expectations, diet culture, and how gender plays a role. Regarding professional obligations as counselors, we talked about psychoeducation, and having proper health education in general. We also discussed creating a safe, non-judgmental environment, and cooperating with other health professionals. When it comes to prevention/intervention, my team discussed staying aware of culture differences, the availability of food in general as well as having healthy options, enforcing a zero tolerance for bullying, emphasizing teacher training, creating a body positive environment, and encouraging positive self-talk. I thought it was cool when comparing the different crises that come up at different parts of the lifespan. Being a part of the adolescence group was also cool because it seemed to have a personal connection to all of us as we all had negative experiences or thoughts to share from that time of our lives.

11/3/2022- What’s Good About You?

This class activity broke the class into groups of 2 where we took turns asking one another “What’s good about you?” 10 times in a row. The purpose of this was to practice a counseling technique that is strengths-based approach. Following the activity, we reflected on how it made us feel to say so many positives about ourselves. My partner and I, as well as other members of the class, thought it was difficult to think of 10 different responses, especially towards the end. It can especially be helpful for people who may struggle with thinking of positives about themselves to begin with, and saying 5 things as opposed to 10 may be more reasonable for some clients. Overall, it is important to use strengths-based approaches in counseling to emphasize a client’s strengths and resilience factors, rather than just focusing on whatever problem they have. It also establishes a positive environment in the counseling session.