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Keeping The Peace Within A Marriage

Dec 26, 2007
It is the universal experience that the quality of the counselor's own personality is the most influential factor in any form of genuine counseling, and it is therefore of some value to consider and to try to formulate the most desirable qualities of personality and the most helpful attitudes of the counselor in counseling.

We may remind ourselves at the beginning that interviewing and counseling are, or should be, reciprocal relationships between two people "for the benefit of one." Counselor and client will each have their share of the universal endowment of conscious and repressed feelings; of prejudices, vulnerabilities, uncritical assumptions about life and about people, habitual attitudes and emotional needs.

Any of these may be stirred up in the emotional interaction inseparable from counseling. Unless the counselor has some awareness of his own inner qualities and vulnerabilities and a reasonable control of them, his own emotional reactions may well intrude into the counseling relationship to such an extent and intensity as to ruin the counseling.

Among the many personal qualities that are generally sought in the initial selection of prospective marriage counselors are the following:

Honesty, integrity of character, trustworthiness and ability to hold communications in strict confidence.
An open mind and a liberal and tolerant outlook, free from restrictive prejudice and not prone to take sides in personal conflicts.

Emotional and personal balance and poise, with flexibility in attitude and practice; awareness of own limitations as well as abilities and powers.

Clear insight and capacity for reasoned analysis; and ability to visualize the importance of deeper elements in personal and social problems.

Ability to discuss intimate and emotionally charged matters without embarrassment.

Acceptance of and loyalty to the aims of the Marriage Guidance or Counseling organization.

Deep and genuine warmth and "non-exploitative" interest in people, without personal involvement or "vested interest" in results of counseling. Readiness to go with partners even through break-up of their marriage if they decide to do so.

Capacity to be a good listener, easy to talk to when one is in trouble, and able to inspire and win the confidence of all kinds of people of both sexes and different ages.

Genuine patience, not too impulsive with the offering of "solutions," or eager to give answers or reassurances, and yet able to offer constructive help as well as understanding.

Persistence with which to see a difficult case through.

Permissiveness and non-judgmental objectivity, without disguising personal standards and values or seeking to impose them on others.

Reasonable freedom from unsolved personal and marital problems, and reasonable awareness of emotional needs.

It is clear that in any preliminary selection these qualities of personal character and relationship must be regarded more as guides than as absolute standards, or there would probably be very few candidates for training as counselors. Many of these qualities are found to be developed to a considerable extent in any good course of training, and they are further stimulated in the actual work of counseling. No matter how many of these qualities any counselor may have, he will always find room for further growth and development.

Beyond these personal qualities there are many "vocational" and "technical" abilities which are mainly achieved in the training courses and further developed throughout all active counseling work, through contact with people in need of help, experience of actual counseling, and through team work, professional supervision, consultations, and case discussions over the years of service.

The good counselor then will have a genuine readiness to look at each problem that comes to him through each partner's eyes, not to judge or to give advice or superficial reassurance, but to go with each of them right down into the agonizing bewildering situation and into their background ideas, attitudes and emotional needs. Then he will patiently support them while they are relating these to the realities of their marital relationship and making the necessary modifications in application of their new insights and their liberated feelings.
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