Personal growth is the unstructured, holistic and non-specific aspect of personal change that results from experience and personal development (Irving and Williams, 1999, p. 518). Personal development involves activities that enhance the quality of life, improves awareness and develops one's potential. Robitschek defines personal growth initiative as the active and intentional engagement in own growth work, including behavioral and cognitive elements. This paper explains two actions that the author plans to perform over the next two years to maintain personal growth concerning addictive disorders counseling. These actions involve learning from failure and enhancing micro skills.
Learning From Failure
Failure is a common problem that counselors face, but I intend to turn it into an opportunity for personal growth. There will be plenty of mistakes throughout my career in addictive disorders counseling. The vital factor, however, is whether I will be able to turn these experiences into essential lessons that will guide me towards achieving personal growth. Failure provides useful information which I intend to use to the best of my advantage. Failure also stimulates experimentation and change while encouraging humility, flexibility, and reflection. Kottler and Blau indicate five stages present in the process of failure. An illusion is the initial phase of denial involving looking for somebody or something to shift the blame. Self-confrontation, however, consists of the therapist assuming total responsibility for the outcome of the action. The third phase entails discovering what went wrong before identifying new perspectives and insights. The final stage involves the application of this further information in future operations.
I will first need to embrace failure if I wish to learn from it. In the next two years, I will examine my errors and judgments, acknowledge the limitations within me, and ensure that I don't repeat the mistakes. An evaluation of me revealed that my pride often prevents me from examining or admitting my failures. Human beings are ego-driven individuals, and since a tender age, I have developed an identity comprising of various beliefs and how I view myself. I have often considered myself as pretty decent and above average in the field of addictive disorders counseling. Cognitive dissonance is a form of mental tension which occurs when an individual holds conflicting opinions, ideas or beliefs. I often experience this form of mental discomfort when my thoughts and behaviors challenge my cherished self-concept. My plan for the next two years is to alleviate my cognitive dissonance by admitting to a mistake I commit and reevaluating my self-concept concerning the issue.
I plan to substitute pride with vulnerability to ensure personal growth within the next two years. Pride forces me to hide my insecurities and flaws, which is another perspective is setting myself for a painful fall. Vulnerability, on the other hand, has an opposite outcome and hence in my mission of achieving personal growth, I will be open about my mistakes and weaknesses, and accept that I don't have everything together. This action will help to build humility, which will play a vital role in ensuring that I recognize and learn from my mistakes. Vulnerability will assist me to admit to my mistakes by lowering pride and arrogance. This admission is the first step in the learning process because an individual cannot learn from a mistake that he is denying.
There are different levels of the power of human beings (Small). The first to third levels is the power to live, feel, and know respectively. These three levels provide the energy of identity and survival and form the lower force. I must achieve the potential within me to maintain personal growth. Pride can, however, prevent me from attaining this mission because it neither has limits nor boundaries. Overcoming my ego is, therefore, a stepping stone in the learning process which drives me towards achieving personal growth in the field of addictive disorders counseling.
Enhancing Micro Skills
Counselling micro skills are qualities that counselors use to enhance client communication. Over the next two years, I will aim to improve my knowledge and application of these skills. Microskills education will assist me to develop a high level of self-awareness and begin with learning basic communication skills such as asking questions, summarizing, reflecting feelings, reading body language and using facial expressions to illustrate listening and interest on whatever the client is saying. Attending behavior is a micro skill that involves a demonstration that reveals an interest in helping and working with a client. This skill helps to build a robust rapport with the client and includes actions such as maintaining eye contact and non-verbal responses. One common non-verbal answer that I would wish to practice and master is the art of leaning forward to show interest.
Another micro skill that will enhance my personal growth is developing the habit of asking right open-ended questions during sessions. These types of questions often lead to new discussion paths which may be helpful in resolving issues (Evans et al. 156). I would also learn to read and recognize different situations. Some situations, for example, call for discretion while others call for the need to ask questions in another manner. I should, therefore, be aware of different questioning techniques, their appropriate use, and the likely results. Asking too many questions may send a message that the counselor is in control or has all the answers. My aim after two years is to learn the different nature of clients, relationships and issues to come up with an effective questioning technique.
Confrontation in counseling means an attempt to gently bring awareness of something that the client might have avoided or overlooked. I would maintain personal growth by learning how to identify incongruent messages, assisting clients to work through these issues and studying the client's growth and change to evaluate the intervention's effectiveness. I would also enhance my knowledge concerning the different areas that a counselor can focus to increase perspectives and solutions. These areas include individual, cultural, environmental, mutuality, problem, and family focus.
Maintaining personal growth in addictive disorders counseling is essential in improving the effectiveness of this field's operations. One way of enhancing my personal growth involves learning from my mistakes and failures. An individual must first accept an error before learning from it. Overcoming my pride is one of the initial actions that will guide me toward acknowledging my mistake and achieving the overall goal of learning from my failures. Enhancing my micro skills is another useful method in maintaining my personal growth. Microskills education involves learning basic communication skills such as asking questions, paraphrasing and using body language. Advanced micro skills include interpreting, confronting, reframing and purposeful self-disclosure.
Brew, Leah, and Michael Altekruse. Building the Relationship: Common Errors in Helping. Thomson Brooks/Cole, 2006.Evans, D. R., Hearn, M. T., Uhlemann, M. R. & Ivey, A. E. (1998). Essential interviewing: a programmed approach to effective communication (5th ed.).Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole (p. 156 - 157).
Robitschek, Christine. "Personal growth initiative: The construct and its measure." Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development 30.4 (1998): 183.
Small, Jacquelyn. Transformers, the Therapists of the Future: Personal Transformation, the Way Through. DeVorss & Company, 1982.
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