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Brief Intervention Strategies

Core Conditions Implementation

The era of managed care, growing requests for counseling, fewer resources, and the hurried nature of modem society are far less than ideal conditions for a model of therapy that is promoting growth rather than immediate problem resolution. The faith in people and personalized, patient support of their development that embody person-centered counseling may not be central to the current quick-fix business model, but even brief intervention counselors have come to recognize the need for applying person-centered core conditions in their practices. The person-centered foundation of listening, understanding, and validating clients remains essential to developing and maintaining the necessary therapeutic alliance that allows a wide variety of brief intervention techniques to succeed (Presbury et al., 2002).

Brief intervention techniques do not act like an injection of antibiotics that immediately attack virus in the body independent of any additional thoughts or actions by the patient. Even the briefest counseling intervention techniques require clients to have sufficient belief in the technique, recognition of its personal relevance, and confidence in the counselor before techniques can be successfully implemented and benefits derived. The core conditions of person-centered counseling thus remain a part of counselor action-oriented brief interventions to achieve maximum effect.

Constraints Introduction

Person-centered counselors who choose not to use techniques from the variety of brief therapy models currently in vogue must still deal with the press of time caused by client pressures to get over symptoms and to meet business conditions. Probably the most important action counselors take to meet brevity demands is to introduce the constraints that counselor and client must work under as soon as possible. Doing so helps them evaluate how to best work together under the client's direction and the constraints on their relationship. How much time is available in a session, how many sessions are allowed, and how progress will be evaluated are examples of important topics when brief time frames are involved. This model is very much in line with other early relationship discussions between clients and counselors on ethical issues such as confidentiality and the nature of the counseling experience or practical matters such as appointments and costs.

Goal Development

The outcomes of discussions on time constraints also create movement toward developing tentative goals for counseling. Goals naturally arise early in most person-centered counseling as clients describe problems and hopes. When brevity is also a concern, early goal clarity becomes even more important for the client to have a sense of where initial thoughts and efforts should be directed. The first critical point in developing person-centered goals is that they are set by the client as opposed to emphasizing the counselor's expectations. The second key point is that the client must be fully aware that goals are tentative and may well change as counseling progresses. Flexibility is essential because while person-centered counselors believe clients can direct their own counseling, they also know that effective counseling creates learning that changes client perceptions of needs, goals, and directions.

Group Work

Many counselors choose person-centered group counseling as a means of giving additional time to more people. The better the counselor, the more clients seek their services. Group person-centered approaches have been found to be effective at providing the core conditions for group members as well as the counselor to produce positive therapeutic outcomes (Page, Weiss, & Lietaer, 2001).

Honest Interactions

Integrating brief intervention strategies to person-centered counseling may not be ideal, but counselors do have practical ways to approach the problem (Thompson, Rudolph, & Henderson, 2007). The essential person-centered concept in determining how to respond to pressures for brevity is that in order to be genuine and trustworthy, counselors must be honest about the factors affecting the counseling process. To not let a client know of time or other constraints on the process and then have the client realize their negative impact later only serves to diminish the therapeutic alliance as the client loses faith with the counselor and the process. The rule of thumb is to let the client know about the constraints and work honestly from that point.

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