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The counseling field has seen a lot of changes in the new millennium.

In this lesson, we will talk about three types of counseling that came about during this time and continue to grow today.

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New Types of Counseling

What do counseling of various cultures, spiritual discussions in therapy sessions, and Internet-based therapy all have in common? They are types of counseling that have become common in the new millennium.

Multicultural Counseling

Counselors interact with a broad range of people. Besides handling varied mental and emotional states, counselors are also presented with varied cultural backgrounds and lifestyles.Multicultural counseling, or therapy with different races and cultural backgrounds, requires a certain kind of openness and understanding. Therapists in training often learn through their education and work how to approach multicultural counseling the best way.

Meet David. David is a 28-year-old man in his second year of graduate training to become a counselor. A few months ago, a 21-year-old African American man, named Mike, came in for therapy.

The moment that David saw Mike, he felt himself tense up a bit. You see, David was raised in a prejudiced environment. His father used to make negative comments about African Americans, saying they were lazy or wouldn’t amount to much.David took on some of that mindset and immediately looked down on Mike. As Mike mentioned his new son, David expected him to be an absent father.

As Mike talked about losing his job, David believed it must have been due to him working poorly, stealing, or something like that. It is important for David to be honest with himself about his discriminatory beliefs about African Americans, share them with his supervisor, and guard against those beliefs hurting his therapeutic relationship.Interestingly, as therapy sessions continued between David and Mike, David found himself being surprised by Mike’s dedication to his child, motivation to work at any job, and generosity with others.

He relinquished his false beliefs about African Americans and realized we cannot make generalizations about any race or culture.There are many counselors like David, who hold feelings of discrimination toward other cultures or races. In multicultural counseling, counselors are encouraged to become aware of inner beliefs and move toward non-judgmental therapeutic interactions. Besides being open and non-judgmental with various people groups, counselors are also encouraged to seek to understand different perspectives.Meet Abigail.

Abigail is another counseling student completing an internship. She has just started counseling a Chinese man in his 20s, named Chen, who moved to the U.S. a few years ago. While he has a very successful business here, and he has formed close relationships, he is carrying severe guilt for not staying in Shanghai with his aging parents. Abigail is caught off guard by his emotional burden, as she considers it commonplace for men and women in their 20s to be living on their own, away from family.

She assumes he is in the minority. The truth, however, is that many Chinese young men, particularly the oldest or the only children, are often expected to stay around to take care of their parents. Chen’s guilty feelings are not uncommon for men in his position who decide to leave. It is important for Abigail to ask questions, listen to Chen, and learn that the mindset of the Chinese culture is his mindset; recognizing how it would naturally impact his feelings and thoughts today.

Spiritual Counseling

There was a time when spiritual topics were never considered part of therapy. Freud would have attributed spirituality to mental illness, and theorists after him simply did not discuss faith-based topics with their clients. That arena was considered a subject for meeting with pastors or ministers rather than with therapists.

Today, however, there is an increasing number of therapists adding spiritual techniques to their practices. There are also more clients seeking out spiritual counseling, or therapy that incorporates spiritual perspectives and practices into counseling sessions. Counselors may specialize in certain religions, based on their own faiths or their education. Most of them either associate themselves with Christianity or with general spirituality.

Maria has been in counseling for a year, but has been unhappy with her counselor. While they have been talking about some interesting techniques to help calm her in times of anxiety, she has felt uncomfortable bringing up her faith. The few times she has, her counselor has pushed it aside and seemed uninterested.

Maria is hoping to find a counselor who has a similar faith background so he or she can understand and talk with her about utilizing her faith to move forward. She had phone consultations with a pastoral counselor, spiritual counselor, and a Christian counselor, all of whom understand her desire to incorporate her faith in therapy.In the end, she settled on the pastoral counselor, who advised her on spiritual practices like prayer and meditating on passages of Scripture that encouraged and directed her. Her counselor also used his training in psychology to understand her past and use cognitive methods with her.

Internet Counseling

It seems that through the years, technology has overtaken numerous areas of life. There is now more of a reliance on cell phones, Internet use, and technological devices than there has ever been. In fact, technology has even affected the world of counseling.

Nowadays, who we choose as a counselor is no longer constricted to where we live. Many counselors are now speaking with people in different states, and even countries, through the use of telephones and the Internet. Like many other counselors, I speak with clients through the use of webcams and programs, like Skype, where I can see clients as well as hear them.Internet counseling can help many people that might not otherwise get the help they need. Brenda for example, suffers from agoraphobia, which means she is scared of public places.

She doesn’t feel comfortable with crowds of people and has resisted counseling for that reason. But when she was searching online for articles on agoraphobia, she came across a therapist’s website that offered counseling via webcam. Brenda now she feels that she can get the help that she needs.Another client, named Michael, feels ashamed of needing therapy. He is slow to trust people, and it is easier for him to open up when he is not being seen. He has been doing therapy with a counselor who offers chat-based sessions, where the client and counselor interact online by typing conversations. Michael also emails his counselor from time to time and gets responses in that form.

Lastly, we have Eleanor. She finds it difficult to make time to get to therapy. She has found that phone sessions work best for her since she can talk during her long commutes after work.

While online counseling has met a great deal of needs for many people, it is not without its disadvantages. Phone sessions prevent counselors from seeing physical responses during the conversation, which could guide them in assessing the client and the therapy effectiveness itself. Chat sessions also lack this kind of information, as well as the all-important feedback of a clients’ tone of voice and inflections. Exchanges over the Internet also have the potential to be leaked or discovered by household members. Last, but not least, sometimes computers or webcams malfunction.

Certain professional psychological associations have noticed the potential issues related to distance counseling and advise counselors to be aware of them and make them known to potential clients. The American Counseling Association, for example, has written out several principles related to online therapeutic relationships that counselors are encouraged to follow. Three of these are commonly agreed upon by other professional organizations and include: deciding if online counseling is appropriate for each client, being committed to refer to another counselor if needed, making clients aware of the limitations of online counseling, and being careful to practice only in areas of competency.

Lesson Summary

Let’s review. The new millennium brought about some new types of counseling that are continuing to grow today.

These include multicultural counseling, or counseling of varied races and cultures; spiritual counseling, or therapy that includes spiritual perspectives and practices in sessions; and Internet counseling, or counseling sessions held online through phone, chat, email, or webcam interactions.

Learning Outcomes

Throughout the process of studying this lesson, you could develop the capacity to:

  • Enumerate three types of counseling that developed in the new millennium
  • Describe some aspects of each counseling type, examine sample cases and note some limitations of Internet-based counseling

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