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Enhancing Your Therapy with Gestalt Approaches Gestalt Therapy continuing education MFT CEUs

Section 21
Guidelines for Implementing Gestalt Techniques
in Adventure-Based Counseling

CEU Question 21 | CEU Answer Booklet | Table of Contents | Gestalt
Counselor CEUs, Psychologist CEs, Social Worker CEUs, MFT CEUs

Counseling Skills: ABC requires different types of skills. In the experiential and counseling fields these are referred to as "soft" skills and "hard" skills. Soft skills are those associated with traditional counseling and are more interpersonal. These skills include reflective listening, verbal and nonverbal communication, reflection, reframing, leadership style, problem solving, decision making, effective communication, and ethical behavior. Hard skills include the physical skills required to do an activity, such as rock climbing or kayaking. Hard skills include not only the ability to perform physical and technical tasks but also the ability to manage the activity while others engage in the task. In addition, the ability to teach the task is a cross between hard and soft skills and is typically an important aspect of the adventure based counselor's repertoire. Counselors without the appropriate hard skills will need a cocounselor or facilitator who possesses the respective competencies. Likewise, facilitators without soft skills will need the assistance of counselors.

Priest and Gass (1997) have outlined hard skills specific to ABC in three categories: metaskills, generic competencies, and specific competencies. The first category is metaskills, or the ability to use a combination of hard and soft skills. The second category, generic competencies, is the skills applicable to all adventure experiences such as physical fitness, weather interpretation, first aid, trip planning, appropriate level of performance, mental awareness associated with the activity, selecting a location, understanding the needs of the participants, and knowledge of anticipated adversity. The third category, specific competencies, includes skills unique to particular activities. Priest and Gass (1997) have listed eight adventure activities that require specific competencies; they include backcountry travel, rock climbing and rappelling, mountaineering, challenge (ropes) courses, caving or spelunking, flatwater and whitewater paddling, on-road and off-road bicycling, and cross-country skiing. Ewert (1989) also included hot air ballooning, rafting, snowshoeing, orienteering, wilderness camping, sailing, scuba diving, sky diving, and hang gliding, all of which incorporate a measure of real risk.

Many of the ethical guidelines for the American Counseling Association and the Association for Experiential Education are quite similar. However, some ethical considerations reflecting the combination of counseling and adventure therapeutics are warranted. For example, counselors of all types are concerned with the welfare of the client. In ABC, this includes the element of risk, both physical and emotional, wherein the client is challenged by choice. The client's physical and mental welfare should be taken into consideration when programming ABC activities as well as participating in them. Any Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, text revision (DSM; American Psychiatric Association) Axis III medical conditions such as allergies, heart conditions, or physical limitations should be identified and precautions taken. For example, all professionals using ABC should complete courses in first aid and CPR.

In ABC, the therapeutic relationship is different in that the amount of time spent with clients and the types of activities might make it more difficult to keep professional boundaries. This is depicted in some OB trips that may be scheduled for up to 90 days in length. Some ABC interventions include overnights with clients (e.g., camping), which can create a different type of relationship than that in an office setting. Due to the nature of the time clients spend together, a friendship, or the perceptions of friendship, can form. However, dual relationships should be guarded against.

In relation to competence and professional responsibility, ABC may include an outdoor trip for certain populations, such as adolescents with conduct disorder, survivors of breast cancer, or court-ordered perpetrators of domestic violence. To work with these populations, the counselor must be competent and knowledgeable. For example, if a survivor of sexual abuse was on a hiking trip and had a traumatic flashback, the counselor would be required to handle that situation within the wilderness setting.

Counselors using ABC will be respectful of client's rights. Clients should not be persuaded beyond the level of what might be thought of as challenging to complete a task, and counselors should adhere to the "challenge by choice" philosophy. However, clients are generally encouraged to participate in activities. Ewert (1989) has suggested that there is an optimal point of risk; however, if there is too much risk, the client could have a negative experience. Certainly, when given a choice some individuals will choose the "easier way out," but the easy way may not be the most therapeutic. Clients avoiding the "impossible task" that could result in a "breakthrough" may not reap the full benefits of the adventure experience. Similarly, Leahy and Associates (see http://www.leahy-inc.com) of Lafayett, Colorado, discuss the phenomenon of "the learning edge," which propels people to breakthrough, breakdown, or bailout, all of which are therapeutic depending on the task of the adventure process (P. Hazelrigg, personal communication, August 18, 1999).

Because ABC is often used as an adjunct to treatment, it is important to be respectful of the integrity of other therapeutic relationships. Confidentiality in a group setting in ABC needs to be addressed appropriately. ABC may appear less formal compared with traditional counseling, and this aspect of confidentiality should be clearly addressed. Finally, counselors-in-training and counselors in the role of teaching and supervising should be properly trained in counseling and experiential/adventure education or at least be knowledgeable enough to know when consultation is necessary.

Client Disequilibrium: Putting clients in a state of dissonance is crucial for client change (e.g., Bandura, 1986; Minuchin & Fishman, 1981; Perls, 1969). In ABC, Gass (1993a) has referred to this as a state of disequilibrium. This concept involves taking individuals out of their respective comfort zones, such as taking athletes off the athletic field and into a setting that will increase or enhance anxiety, frustration, or dissonance, thereby creating a state of disequilibrium. For example, in collegiate volleyball, players have already established patterns of functioning based on leadership skills and ability. An ABC treatment would take players out of a comfortable environment, which is often uneven in terms of roles and abilities, and place them in a setting that is uncomfortable (e.g., a low-element challenge course or climbing wall). This is called "leveling the playing field" (Gass, 1993a). In doing so, it might be easier to detect personal and team dynamics and address issues that might otherwise be masked on the volleyball court.

When clients are in a state of disequilibrium, oftentimes their established coping mechanisms are not sufficient to address the anxiety. Therefore, counselors are required to intervene in order to teach a new coping skill, execute crisis intervention, and process the state of discomfort. As the challenge increases, the client grows, thereby enhancing the outcome of the experience (Csikszentmihalyi & Csikszentmihalyi, 1988). Similarly, during the adventure activity, counselors need to be supportive but also challenging (Ewert, 1989).

Macroprocessing: The facilitation of the adventure process is necessary to enhance the experience for clients. Gass (1995) has outlined six facilitation styles. The first three styles are the following. First, letting the experience speak for itself (no loading) is essentially letting clients figure out the meaning of the activity for themselves. Second, speaking for the experience (front loading) occurs when the facilitator or counselor sets up the experience. Directly front loading the experience requires counselors to brief clients before the experience regarding how the activity should work. Third, speaking after the experience (back loading) is learning by reflecting and by guiding clients to discover their own meanings.

The last three styles—front and back loading, metaphor, and paradox—are more proactive in nature, reflecting a philosophical shift among adventure based counselors and facilitators to create a more powerful experience. Front and back loading consists of setting up the activity and processing the activity after it is completed.

Metaphors are a common phenomenon in counseling; however, the use of metaphor in ABC is intentional and somewhat unique. In ABC, metaphors are emphasized and intentional in the process of transferring the adventure activity to real life. When designing adventure programs, it is important to keep in mind the metaphor that provides an effective transfer back to personal life or the workplace. Gass (1995) has outlined steps to assist in achieving a successful experience: stating and ranking goals; selecting metaphoric adventure experiences; identifying successful resolution to the therapeutic issue; strengthening an isomorphic framework or personalizing it so the metaphor is more apparent to the participant; reviewing client motivations; and debriefing, or processing experiences. Often, clients can create their own metaphors during the activity or debriefing process.

Although used less often in ABC, paradox can be an effective processing procedure. According to Gass (1995), this style is often used when clients' problematic issues are more significant. This includes double binds, symptom prescriptions, symptom displacements, and proactive refraining.

Transferring the Experience and Benefits: It is important that adventure-based experiential therapeutics be designed in a manner that provides for effective implementation to ensure transference back to personal social life and the workplace. Debriefing is an important aspect of facilitation and is critical to the ABC process. For example, a debriefing session may include a lack of emphasis on winning, reducing competition, exerting or not exerting personal power, or simply letting the activity speak for itself (see Crone, 1999). Benefits include the enhancement of psychological, educational, sociological, physical, and spiritual domains. Psychological benefits can include new confidence in oneself, increased willingness to take risks, improved self-concept, enhanced leadership skills, increased logical reasoning skills, and greater reflective thinking skills (Priest & Gass, 1997). Educational benefits include a greater knowledge of the environment and nature (Ewert, 1989). Enhanced cooperation, more effective communication skills, greater trust in others, increased sharing of decision making, new ways to resolve conflicts, improved problem-solving skills, and enhanced leadership skills are manifested as sociological benefits (Priest & Gass, 1997). Adventure activities require both muscular and cardiovascular exertion, therefore providing clients with physical benefits (Ewert, 1989). Spiritual benefits include connection with the greater environment and the feeling that one is part of a force that embraces other people as well as nature (Hinkle, 1999).
- Fletcher, Teresa B.; Hinkle, J. Scott; Adventure Based Counseling: An Innovation in Counseling; Journal of Counseling & Development, Summer2002, Vol. 80 Issue 3
The article above contains foundational information. Articles below contain optional updates.

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Personal Reflection Exercise #7
The preceding section contained information about guidelines for implementing Gestalt techniques in Adventure-Based Counseling.  Write three case study examples regarding how you might use the content of this section in your practice.

Online Continuing Education QUESTION 21
What are Gass's six facilitation styles? Record the letter of the correct answer the CEU Answer Booklet.

 
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Experiences of gender among Arab American women: A qualitative study. - February 04, 2019
Even within counseling psychology’s multicultural literature, attention to persons of Arab descent remains limited. Despite counseling psychologists’ goal of becoming more multiculturally proficient, the dearth of systematic empirical research on the counseling of Arab Americans is glaring. This exploratory consensual qualitative research (CQR) investigation analyzed interview data from 11 Arab American women to explore their experiences at the intersections of ethnic identity and gender. In addition to describing a need to be hyperaware and responsive to societal and familial expectations, participants reported believing that they did not fit American society’s view of Arab American women. They also conveyed feelings of invisibility and invalidation due to racial ambiguity, and lack of census recognition. The findings affirm the need to increase psychological focus on Arab American women to facilitate the multiculturally competent practice of counseling psychologists working with this population. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)
Let me choose: Primary caregiver cultural humility, racial identity, and mental health for multiracial people. - December 27, 2018
The current study introduces cultural humility as a racial socialization strategy for Multiracial children. Specifically, the relationship between perceived primary caregiver cultural humility and mental health was examined for Multiracial people. The indirect and the moderating role of children’s racial identity (i.e., Multiracial pride, challenges with racial identity) was also examined. Multiracial people (N = 399) were recruited to fill out measures of caregiver cultural humility, mental health, and racial identity via Qualtrics. Findings indicated that caregiver cultural humility was correlated with less depressive symptoms for Multiracial children. Age moderated relationships between humility and depressive symptoms, such that primary caregiver humility negatively correlated with depressive symptoms for Multiracial individuals in their mid to late thirties and younger. Multiracial pride and challenges with racial identity partially explained relationships between cultural humility and depressive symptoms. Also, challenges with racial identity moderated relationships between humility and depressive symptoms, such that humility was more beneficial for individuals experiencing more challenges with racial identity. Results of the study highlight cultural humility as a promotive strategy that primary caregivers might employ to foster the mental health and racial identity of Multiracial children. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)
Protean and boundaryless career orientations: A critical review and meta-analysis. - February 18, 2019
The protean/boundaryless career concepts refer to people becoming more self-directed and flexible in managing their careers in response to societal shifts in work arrangements. A sizable literature has emerged on protean/boundaryless career orientations/preferences (PBCO). Questions remain, however, about the structure of PBCO and whether they predict important criteria. The PBCO literature is largely disconnected from broader individual-level career research, making it unclear how PBCO intersect with career models based on other characteristics. We address these questions by systematically reviewing/meta-analyzing PBCO research. On the basis of 135 demographically/occupationally diverse samples from 35 countries (45,288 individuals), we find no support for traditional distinctions between protean and boundaryless orientations—protean self-directed, protean values-driven, and boundaryless psychological mobility all load onto a single general factor, labeled proactive career orientation, and are only weakly related to boundaryless physical mobility preferences. We also find that PBCO predict career self-management behaviors and career satisfaction but are less related to non-career-focused attitudes, objective success, or physical mobility behavior. PBCO are strongly related to proactivity-related and self-efficacy personality traits. We use these findings to propose an integrative model for how PBCO and other dispositions mutually influence career behavior. We discuss when PBCO may have advantages over broad traits for understanding careers, implications for counseling practice, and directions for future research. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)
Heterosexist harassment and social cognitive variables as predictors of sexual minority college students’ academic satisfaction and persistence intentions. - March 28, 2019
This study examined social–cognitive and cultural predictors of academic satisfaction in a sample of 731 sexual minority college students. In addition to predictors drawn from the social–cognitive model of domain satisfaction (Lent, 2004), we included heterosexist harassment (perceived animosity toward nonheterosexuality) as a culture-specific predictor, with the potential to predict sexual minority students’ academic satisfaction and desire to remain at their current college campuses. The findings indicated that the model fit the data well and accounted for substantial amounts of the variance in academic satisfaction and persistence intentions. It was also found to be invariant across subsamples of students who identified as lesbian, gay, or bisexual. The culture-specific predictor, heterosexist harassment, was linked to academic satisfaction indirectly, largely through perceptions of lower environmental supports. Heterosexist harassment also produced a small direct, negative path to persistence intentions, apart from the social–cognitive predictors. We consider the implications of the findings for future research and for practical efforts to promote the academic well-being of sexual minority students. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)
Decent work and well-being among low-income Turkish employees: Testing the psychology of working theory. - March 28, 2019
People from lower social classes experience significant difficulties in many life domains including work, yet their work lives continue to be understudied in psychology. This study examined the applicability of the Psychology of Working Theory (PWT), which emphasizes the role of socioeconomic constraints in shaping work and well-being outcomes, in a non-Western, collectivist cultural framework. Specifically, we tested the associations of social class with work volition and career adaptability in predicting decent work and job and life satisfaction with a sample of 401 low-income Turkish employees. Results of structural equation modeling analyses supported all hypothesized paths of the proposed model. Social class predicted decent work directly and indirectly through work volition and career adaptability, and decent work predicted job satisfaction and life satisfaction. In addition to extending the research on the international utility of the PWT, these results support the notion that social class has a crucial role in low-income working adults’ access to decent and fulfilling work along with their attainment of well-being. The results of this study also underline the importance of promoting decent work among low-income individuals to improve their personal and work lives. Implications for practice with low-income Turkish employees and directions for future research are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)

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