When clients come to counseling for "relationship issues" it could be a mistake to leave addiction to certain behaviors — such as a client’s compulsive gambling or use of online pornography — out of the treatment plan.
I have been writing for Counseling Today magazine since 2005. The following articles were originally published by the American Counseling Association and can be found here.
Robyn Chauvin was happily married in the early 1990s. Having spent time in counseling, she had given up drugs and alcohol, was studying to be a music therapist and was working with patients in a psychiatric hospital. But she knew there was one more change she needed to make. “I got very clear that I was not going to pretend to be male anymore,” Chauvin says.
Picture a female client facing a bleak employment market, stressing out about finding a new living space and struggling to find a boyfriend who wants the same things she does. She also suffers from low self-esteem and has been dabbling in some disordered eating. Based on that description, perhaps you are envisioning a millennial in her mid-20s. In fact, this client could just as easily be 60 years old and confronting the same complicated issues that we typically assign to younger people. Women in “midlife,” defined for our purposes as age 45 and beyond, may face career issues, changes in their primary coupling, challenges parenting adult children and becoming caregivers to their own parents — all at a time of life when Hollywood tells us they should either be enjoying complete success or be thoroughly ignored as popular culture trains its spotlight on ever younger role models.
The true challenge of counseling today’s college students may be handling the sheer variety of issues that a single client can experience. Yes, college still stands as a time of great personal growth and joy for many of these students, but rates of anxiety and depression are also on the rise for this demographic. According to groundbreaking research by Penn State’s Center for Collegiate Mental Health (CCMH), 75 percent of all diagnosable mental health disorders become apparent by age 24. Given those numbers, it is reasonable to suspect that counselors both inside college counseling centers and outside of those facilities will be seeing more college students in their offices. In fact, counselors tuned in to the unique needs of this population may be on the front lines of preventing long-term mental health crises.
Pregnancy may be the ultimate self-disclosure to our clients. How your counselor handles this information can impact the therapeutic alliance.