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Direct advice giving

Video Type: In Practice

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Maria is a 24-year old, second-generation Argentinian woman living in Canada who came out as a lesbian last year. Her parents are devout Catholics and opposed to homosexuality, and she feels they have not fully absorbed her sexual orientation—they see it as a “phase.” She feels they are very gradually adjusting, but is concerned that announcing the plan to move in with her partner Lisa would disturb the current peaceful equilibrium in their relationship. Maria is getting pressure from Lisa, but is concerned that moving in would be extremely upsetting to her parents, and she is stuck as to how to go forward. Here, in an example featured as rejecting a suggestion nonverbally in Chapter 5, Alex “pitches” Maria on the notion that she should simply declare her plans to her parents and not be concerned about how they will respond. How responsive is he to Maria's verbals and nonverbals as he does this? What do you see in her body language that gives you indications about what she feels about his idea? What aspects of this practice might you have done similarly/differently? Straight-up advice giving is rarely helpful. It underestimates the client's ability to reflect on their own situation and can promote an oppositional response. This does not suggest counsellors should never bring their ideas to clients; it's in how they are brought and offered that the difference lies. Here, Alex feels strongly about what he thinks Maria should do; but does she agree? Better to either spend more time eliciting a rich account from Maria of her point of view, or place his idea on the table more tentatively for Maria to mull over and respond to.

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