Monthly Archives: February 2023

The Evolution of Empathetic Understanding in the Counseling Profession

Many years ago, during my training as a counselor, there was a prevailing notion that the initial sessions with a client should be dedicated to comprehending their perspective as a means of establishing a baseline. However, this conventional approach transformed with the introduction of Stephen Covey’s 5th Habit: “Seek First to Understand.” Over time, this concept of understanding has evolved significantly in my professional practice, mirroring my personal evolution.

At its inception, “understanding” was primarily employed as an assessment tool. Subsequently, counselors would design a series of tailored programs to guide clients from their initial point to a predetermined destination based on their training. Yet, after years of practice, I began to realize that no amount of training could adequately prescribe the ideal path for each individual to attain their highest potential. This could only be ascertained by encouraging clients to delve deep within themselves to discover their unique path and destination. This realization brought into focus the fact that there is no one-size-fits-all solution; every client is a distinct entity. In due course, this perspective gained greater prominence in my approach.

For those in the counseling or “helping” profession, it is not uncommon to hold preconceived notions about what constitutes the most suitable path for individuals. The drive to “fix” someone can sometimes translate into imposing one’s perspective on those being assisted. However, it is paramount to consider a deeper level of empathetic understanding.

Time and experience have instilled in me a sense of humility and taught me that my opinions may not always align with an individual’s best interests. If each person is genuinely unique, then the path they traverse will be equally singular and individualized.

This paradigm shift underscores the significance of understanding and elevates it to a new, more profound level of empathy. Now, the entire life of an individual must be taken into account. While professional training equips one to seek clues and propose plausible solutions, it is essential to be prepared for anything.

One approach that has proven valuable in this reframe is allowing clients to be right in all things and permitting them to adjust their perspective as our supportive coaching relationship unfolds. My goal is to genuinely comprehend what it feels like to walk in their shoes as they navigate their life’s journey.

In retrospect, I feel a sense of remorse for the sense of superiority that I once conveyed in my interactions with clients when my approach was more structured and rigid. My success rate has significantly increased due to the deeper level of understanding I now bring to my practice. I honor where each client is at any given moment, without passing judgment or imposing standardized recommendations or preconceived outcomes.

My motivation is profoundly love-inspired, reflecting my true nature. I hold a sincere and loving regard for my clients and support them throughout their unique processes. My role is to encourage and accompany them on their journey of self-discovery.

In today’s context, I am more inclined to make suggestions rather than dictate what a client should do. I offer a multitude of options, empowering individuals to make their own choices and determine the best path for themselves.

This approach entails allowing individuals to feel comfortable in their own world, whatever it may look like, and working from that point of acceptance.

Embracing this methodology has enabled me to have rich and expansive experiences and has granted me access to the innermost thoughts and data provided by the people I work with that I would have otherwise missed.

All of this stems from a genuine commitment to seeking understanding first, allowing individuals the freedom to be or believe whatever they choose, and wholeheartedly accepting and supporting them as they navigate their unique journey toward personal and spiritual growth.

Ultimately, it is the client who benefits, but I believe I am equally blessed because I have had the privilege of being present in those profoundly transformative moments when perceptions shift, epiphanies are realized, and a new metamorphosis of life unfolds before my eyes.