As a Therapist I often provide services to families and Supported Individuals. This is a population that we often overlook, and do not adequately service. It is my experience that counselling is one of the resources that can be of great benefit for both the individual and the family in these situations. There needs to be a better understanding of the purpose, core values, barriers and some recommendations which may provide better insight and perhaps help networks to appreciate and recognize the value in counselling for Supported Individuals. It is important to put resources in place for individuals with developmental or emotional disabilities that support whatever choices they want to make, independently or in a supported environment.
The purpose of counselling is for every individual to recognize their strengths, discover their beliefs and emotions and to be supported in such a way that they are free to experience this through verbal interactions or by expressive therapy.
The following are three core values of counselling based on value, attitudes and practices:
- 1. Respect for human rights and differences
- 2. Respect, integrity, authority, responsibility, autonomy, competence, and confidentiality
- 3. Provides a sense of connection, teaches boundaries, is explicit yet open and provides privacy
At time Supported Individuals “may not seek help” (Gulliver, Griffiths, 2010) creating barriers for them in their lives. Some of these barriers include: limited resources, caregivers not supporting their loved to access this form of support, or counsellors that are not skilled to support the unique nature of the counselling arena.
There are some recommendations to over come these barriers:
- 1. Examine your own beliefs and assumptions about counselling
- 2. Educate yourself: this will build a more positive orientation
- 3. Reframe the reason for counselling by looking at this as a problem solving approach instead of a stigma or that it is “not a possibility”
- 4. No matter the abilities or challenges the most important factor is that everyone is a person who deserves respect.
Even those identified as the most vulnerable, non-verbal, immobile or those seen as not having the right to counselling can be supported with the opportunity to make their choices and consent to counselling support.
Submitted by: Salley-Ann Ross, MA RCC Clinical Counsellor
Gulliver,A. Griffiths, K. & Christensen, H. (2010). Perceived Barriers and Facilitators to Mental Health Help-seeking in Young People: A Systematic Review.
BMC Psychiatry 10:13 Retrieved from: https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-244-10-13
Gutyton, B. (2015) Counselling Individuals with Disabilities.
Prezi. Retrieved from: https://prezi.com/sak/pu-j62dq/counselling-individuals-with disabilities.