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Philosophy of Counseling

            It is my philosophy that in order to be a good school counselor, one must have the personality characteristics of an effective counselor and have a well-defined, personal approach to treatment.  Gerald Corey (2005) lists several personal characteristics of an effective counselor.  These characteristics include having identity, having respect for oneself, the ability to recognize and accept power, openness to change, having a sense of humor, being authentic and honest, appreciating the influence of culture, and being concerned with the welfare of others.  In addition, effective counselors are able to make choices that shape their lives and are life-oriented, they live in the present, they make and admit mistakes, and they are deeply involved in their work while maintaining appropriate boundaries (Corey, 2005). 

            I believe that I have all of these qualities.  I feel that I have already had many life experiences that have helped me to define and establish a personal identity.  Because of this attribute, I think that my opinions and practices remain constant in all situations.  I believe that education never ends and every day is an opportunity to learn something new that can improve the way you do your job.  I have a healthy sense of self-respect and respect towards all people I encounter in my life regardless of culture, race, or ethnicity.  I also have a sense of humor and am authentic, honest, and sincere, which helps me to build rapport with students and my coworkers.  I am very passionate about counseling and have a genuine interest in helping those around me, especially children and adolescents who, despite what they may believe in today’s society, need the guidance and care of adults in their lives. 

            My personal approach to counseling is based on hallmarks of Reality Therapy/Choice Theory, and is also influenced by Adlerian thought.  I concur with the Choice Theory notion that we are responsible for the choices we make.  I believe that we can exercise great control over our lives, over how we can change to better ourselves, and how we can change to better our relationships.  I also agree that all people are influenced by five basic needs: belonging, survival, freedom, power, and fun, and that these needs can be used as motivational tools when working with students.  Reality Therapy can also be useful in school settings because students can be taught that their behaviors have consequences and that they can choose and control their own behaviors based on those consequences, making them responsible and accountable citizens. 

As Glasser, Wubbolding, and Whitehouse acknowledged, Adlerian therapy did have some influence on Reality Therapy’s ideas and goals (as cited in Watts & Pietrzak, 2003).  Some of the things I identify most with in Adlerian theory are his ideas on birth order, the role of past experiences, subjective reality, and social interest.  I believe that birth order affects the way individuals act, think and behave.  As noted by Dinkmeyer, Dinkmeyer, & Sperry in Kottman & Johnson (1993), people decide how they can gain a position of significance in the world by reflecting on how they gained a position of significance in their families.  I feel that the family plays a very crucial and important part in the development of all children and adolescents and thus the family structure and dynamic should be examined and considered when working with a student to deliver the most effective counseling approach for that family.  I feel that our perception of the past influences the way we act in the present.  I believe Adler’s idea of a subjective reality, individual to each person, is exactly how people operate.  People create and interpret their own experience, which means that a sense of reality is individual to each person.  It is my goal as a counselor to do my best to try and understand each of my students’ subjective realities and personalize the counseling experience for each of them.  Finally, like Adler, I believe that each individual must also possess a social interest and have a sense of belonging in the community of the human race and in the community of a school.



Corey, G. (2005).  Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy. (7th ed.).  Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole-Thomson Learning.

Kottman, T. & Johnson, V. (1993). Adlerian play therapy: a tool for school counselors. Elementary School Guidance & Counseling, 28(1), 42-52.

Watts, R. & Pietrzak, D. (2000). Adlerian ‘encouragement’ and the therapeutic process of solution-focused brief therapy. Journal of Counseling & Development, 78(4), 442-448.