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Welcome to a practical pastoral counseling site of Dr. Harold L. White

 Every pastor can be a valued and competent counselor.

The Counseling Process

Crossman suggests that effective TA practitioners bring permission, protection and potency
to their counseling work.
Their task is to invite the client to move from a working agreement to a treatment contract,
and then to a redecision as soon as possible.

The first stage of the TA counseling process is contact and intake.
The purpose of this stage is to get an initial picture of the other person in enough detail
for the therapist to decide if they want to enter into a counseling contract with that person,
and to reveal any features that might indicate a need for referral.

Stage two of the counseling process is largely a process of decontaminating the client's Adult.
It usually involves helping clients identify their thoughts and feelings and learn
what they want to change.
According to Stewart, most transactional analysts take the view that to achieve lasting change,
the person must renounce all three of the tragic script outcomes
(i.e. kill or harm self, kill or harm others, or go crazy).

This does not constitute a promise, but rather a concrete decision made by the client.
By closing these escape hatches, clients make a commitment from the Adult to renounce
all three tragic options, and thus accept responsibility for their situation and acknowledge
that they have the power to alter that situation.

The third stage is concerned with the treatment contract.
For the counselor, it means the informed choice of interventions to facilitate the client's
achievement of the agreed contract, in the light of the therapist's diagnosis of the client.
It means choosing which interventions to use and in what order to use them.
However, establishing a treatment contract or sequence may be an ongoing process
which includes periodic refinement.

The reason why Transactional Analysis places so much emphasis on using contracts,
is because the client is actively involved in the counseling process.
Contracts provide a mental attitude to change, and counselor and client know clearly
when their work together is complete.
Furthermore, Contract-making guards against the imposition of the counselor's goals
on the client and discourages the pursuit of covert agendas.

Stage four of the TA counseling process includes the various techniques, methods,
and experiences which are used to help the client arrive at a redecision and change his or her
self-limiting script beliefs decided upon in childhood.
Confronting rackets and games, and updating the clients script beliefs is therefore the major task
at this stage of the counseling process.
It may involve confronting racket behaviors and racket feelings, and stroking,
problem-solving behaviors and authentic feelings.

Stewart suggests that to confront a game, one must interrupt its predicable flow.
Therefore, the first step in confronting a game is to become aware of the moves in that game.
One can then interrupt the game by inviting the game-player to do anything other than
the predictable move called for in the game.

Along with this interruption, one may also offer the player a non-scripted option to replace
the "expected" step in the game, thereby providing the person with a new exit from
the game sequence.
This stage therefore invites clients to clarify and strengthen their adult functioning.

Stage five in the counseling process occurs when the client changes some aspect of their script.
However, if the client is not ready to make a new decision, it is necessary to go back
to one of the previous steps and find out what is missing.

Relearning constitutes the Sixth stage of the counseling process.
Redecision is the goal of treatment in Transactional Analysis.
If it is to remain lasting and meaningful however, it must be integrated into the clients life style.
During the relearning stage, the therapist remains available as a source of information,
feedback, and to stroke the client for their changes as well as to continue to confront
the clients residual script behaviors.
Once a client begins to regularly carry out their new decision, the client is then ready to decide
whether they wish to work on a different issue or to terminate treatment.

The seventh and final stage of the counseling process is termination.
The final decision about whether or not to terminate treatment usually rests with the client.
The therapist's responsibility therefore is to provide feedback as to the client's progress,
especially with regard to the clients treatment contract.

Clients are usually asked to attend two extra sessions after they announce that
they wish to terminate.
This provides an avenue for the client to experience how they feel while contemplating termination.
It also gives the client some time to think about, and resolve any unresolved issues before leaving.
The client is thus enabled to change his or her mind if the original decision proves hasty,
as well as to deal with the process of saying goodbye.

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