It is evident that social justice advocacy requires efficient skills that needs to be continuously practiced within the counseling profession. The professional advocate and consultant do illustrate opposing roles where an advocates approach is to cease the oppression within a clients life and the consultants primary concern relates towards the discovery and therapy of the psychological consequences (Benjamin, & Baker, 2004; Speight, & Vera, 2004. ).
The paper will also examine and address the benefits experienced from the counselors participation and utilization of advocacy, in relation to the care of children, adolescents, adults, couples, and families. The presence of institutional and social barriers such as certain influences, and resistance will also be examined. The concept of social justice advocacy can be explained by first defining advocacy. Advocacy can be classified as a mental health counselors action to assist in their clients therapy and achieve the overall goals of the therapy by considering the clients environment.
Social justice advocacy includes these actions with the desired goal of eliminating the oppression in society, including that of the marginalized population. Scholars propose that integrating a social justice advocacy role into the core identity of professional counselors will help redress past and current societal oppression of marginalized populations (Moe, et al. , 2010, p. 106). These actions also reflect the desire to organize an appropriate or just society, whose population has a right for humane and just treatment, and the protection of these rights are practiced and enforced.
Consultation can be described as the collaborative process between a mental health counselor, other professionals, and a client. The goal of this process, or therapy, is for the counselor to assist in the recognition and resolution of any issues that are present. Consultation for professional counselors typically involves acting on behalf of an identified client through interaction with another professional consultee or other stakeholder in the clients welfare (Moe, et al. , 2010, p. 108). Clinical consultants usually practice methods related to Diagnosing, using behavioral analysis, negotiating for resource access, and evaluating outcomes (Moe, et al. , 2010, p. 113). A mental health counselor should demonstrate the professional characteristics of both an advocate and a consultant. It is important to believe that we live in a society that is, for the most part, good in nature but we still experience negative situations on occasion. The mental health counselor should advocate for a better society where the majority of the population is treated respectfully and humane.
The ultimate challenge is for the mental health counselor is to pass on these beliefs and assist those who have been subjected to any unjust treatment. The professional counselor should also act as an experienced consultant. This includes an ability to recognize and develop solutions for any issues presented by a client and collaborate with other professionals or organizations regarding these issues. The two concepts are similar in nature because their desired goals, to assist the client in need, are identical.
It is evident that education and training, including internships, residencies, and clinical supervision, prepares a mental health counselor for the skills and procedures required to efficiently practice clinical consultation. The concern for the preparation, training, and development of efficient skills to practice social justice advocacy is evident for the mental health counselor. The two concepts can also be considered similar where evaluation on the research has proven that consultation is a Complementary model of practice for counselors acting as social justice advocates (Moe, et al. 2010). Clinical consultation and advocacy become interchanged or overlap when discussing specific specializations such as school counseling.
The contributions of Ratts and Hutchins (2009) commented that Counselors as advocates often adopt the role of consultant to promote empowerment of clients or students (Moe, et al. 2010, p. 108). These two concepts also illustrate similarities when their specific roles are considered. This study also determined that consultants and advocates share similar characteristic of Using basic counseling skills, problem solving, acting on behalf of clients, and contextualizing client or student issues (Moe, et al. 010, p. 113). There are specific influences that might effect a mental health counselors ability to practice social justice advocacy.
Ethnic and racial identification and adapting to the practice setting, according to Moe et al. (2010) are two factors that influence the professional counselors identity. Race informs our professional perspective, and racial experiences are validated in counseling through the adoption of culturally sensitive practices and interventions (Arredondo et al. , 2008; Constantine et al. 2007) Counselors can also illustrate unique behaviors, related to the practice setting, in order to assist the needs of their clients. These behaviors, represented by the counselors utilization of various themes or styles, relate to different settings and environments of their practice (Moe et al. 2010). Social justice advocacy illustrates many benefits towards the individuals that it is practiced on. Advocates can assist children with childcare, necessary models of parenting, and also help with their childcare.
The counselor who advocates for children wants to assure that they are not harmed and to prevent further harm from those who have already experienced it. Teens can be educated on issues concerning harassment or bullying in school or with domestic issues such depression or guilt related to a parents divorce. Counselors that practice advocacy for families can assist with domestic abuse and child abuse issues. The assistance provided to adults could be related to health care and living conditions such as assisted living and retirement homes. Clinical advocates can also assist couples with domestic issues and marriage counseling.
There are countless ways that advocates can assist the demands of the consumers in order to maintain a just society. Resistance such as the loss of mainstream privileges may influence the counselors ability to practice social justice advocacy. A counselor might be concerned about what others think or how they are viewed form others regarding their participation in advocacy of oppression. Thus, counselors may develop fears or concerns for the consequences of how others may view them when helping those who are subjected to certain aspects of oppression (West-Olatunji, 2010).
The Case of Julia D. Julia has just turned 16 years old and she recently has been pulling the hair off her face, especially her eyebrows and eyelashes. She has been missing some classes and her counselor has noticed a slip in her grade point average. She is of Hispanic decent and currently resides with her mother and two brothers in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Julias school counselor decided to speak with her and address some of the apparent issues through a consultation.
The issues that were discussed included the cruel treatment from other students, the anxiety and stress she suffers from in result of this treatment, her recent decrease in grades, and a concern for the noticeable changes in her appearance. After the consultation, the school counselor contacted Julias mother, who was well aware of the current situation, told the counselor that she had been acting differently since her recent divorce with Julias father. The counselor expressed her concern for Julias issues and, in her professional opinion, they needed to be addressed through the collaboration with a professional mental health counselor.
Julia, and her mother, agreed to meet with a mental health counselor who was contacted by the school counselor. Even though the school counselor represented the characteristics of an advocate and consultant, further collaboration with a professional counselor with the unique specialization in mental health counseling was necessary. The primary consultation, would include Julias brief history, a discussion of what issues brought her to visit the counselor, what she was willing to work on, and a plan for future goals of her therapy.
The experienced counselor could work with Julia and recognized and reflect on the areas that she was willing to discuss. The issues that could be discussed were Julias parents break up, which could involve various irreconcilable differences, the previous subjection constant fighting, and her negative experiences related to the harsh and cruel treatments from her colleagues. The mental health counselor could diagnose Julia to have Trichotillomania which probably resulted from depression, anxiety, and stress related to the reasons they would discuss.
A treatment plan for therapy could include current weekly visits to this counselor, perhaps after school, and a realistic desire would reflect substantial progress towards the resolution of her issues. The practice and utilization of social justice advocacy and consultation by professional counselors is necessary in order to demonstrate the characteristics of a clear professional identity. There are many aspects of the two concepts that illustrate similarities and benefits for the individual clients of our society.
The overall goal of the mental health counselor, or any specialization, while practicing these concepts is to recognize and meet the demands of the clients who deserve to live in a just society. There are numerous roles and skills that a counselor needs to develop in order to assist the needs of their clients. Through the implementation of advocacy and consultation, a mental health counselor can demonstrate the characteristics of an experienced and professional individual who can, effectively, recognize, understand, and assist a client with all of their related issues.