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The Process of Change

Early in the counseling process, the counselor develops a relationship through empathy and encouragement. Encouragement is the most powerful intervention a counselor can provide for helping a client to transform beliefs, inspire courage, and grow (Watts & Pietrzak, 2000). A client grows by gaining insight and using that insight to take steps that result in healthy relationships with family, friends, and others. Growth is not possible unless the client is willing to change his or her mistaken beliefs. A technique used to help a client recognize mistaken beliefs is spitting in the client's soup, which requires a counselor to point out certain unattractive behaviors of the client. Through the use of deliberate questions used by the counselor, the client makes a connection between the answer to the question and the problem. Once understanding occurs and a behavior is seen as unattractive, it is less likely to recur. Spitting in a client's soup, figuratively of course, helps the client to evaluate motivations for behaviors and any inferiority feelings as a result of the behaviors. A client may continue to behave in the same manner; however, the behavior becomes less attractive, making the client aware that he or she has the power to change that behavior. Thus, Adlerian counseling rests in the counselor-client collaborative relationship of mutual respect to identify, explore, and evaluate mistaken goals and faulty assumptions within the client's lifestyle (Ferguson, 2003).

Adler sees confrontation as an important part of encouragement and part of the process of change. Milliren et al. (2007) stated that "confrontation is frequently used as a way of holding the mistaken goals and beliefs up in front of the client, as with a mirror. Confrontation presents an opportunity to the client to make immediate change in beliefs, behaviors, or mood" (p. 145). It is followed by a reorientation of the client toward what will work in life and the world. Because the main aim of counseling is to develop the client's sense of belonging and to assist in the change and adoption of behaviors and thinking characterized by community feeling and social interest, increasing the client's self-awareness by challenging and modifying fundamental beliefs and life goals accomplishes this change. Adler believed that assisting a discouraged client to function more effectively is an important part of the counseling process (Ferguson, 2003). Rather than focusing on major problems and mistakes, the counselor should focus on a client's strengths while still addressing the mistaken beliefs and behaviors. A major function of the counselor is to empower a client by being aware of what the client has actually accomplished and currently does in relation to life tasks.

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