FROM THE SYLLABUS OF DAVID VAN NUYS'
Introduction to Counseling
My goals for this course are that you as a student will:
- Gain an historical perspective of the evolution of this field
- Develop some familiarity with a number of counseling and psychotherapy
theories, including those of Rogers, Egan, Bugental, and Teyber
- Gain experience in the role of counselor and develop some realistic
assessment of your skills and potential in this role
- Experience the role of counselee and develop skills in identifying
your own feelings and blindspots, as well as develop a deeper empathy and
understanding for what it means to be counseled
- Learn to accurately recognize and identify feeling states in yourself
- Learn and/or strengthen skills in active attending and in communicating
non-possessive warmth, accurate empathy, respect, concreteness, and genuineness
as a counselor
- Develop some beginning sense of how to structure counseling sessions,
as well as an awareness of the typical impasses you are likely to encounter
- Be in a better position to assess your own talents, skills, and motivation
in terms of a possible career as a counselor or psychotherapist
- To provide you with information about the career paths, graduate training
options, and licenses that lead to becoming a counselor or psychotherapist
This course assumes that the best way for you to learn about counseling
is to have some experience counseling and being counseled. It is a "learning
by doing and being done to" model. Thus, one of the class requirements
is that you spend two hours a week outside of class engaged in "co-counseling
pairs." This demands both the willingness to commit the extra time
and, more importantly, the willingness to share with peers aspects of your
inner life and outer difficulties.
Before enrolling in this class you should consider very carefully your willingness
to get into emotional concerns, both your own and those of your classmates.
This course places heavy emphasis upon self-disclosure and participation
in various experiential-learning exercises. Furthermore, you will be videotaped
as counselor or client and these sessions are critiqued by the class, as
a whole. Thus, this is not an experience for the student who simply wants
to sit back and take notes. Before enrolling in this class, you should consider
very carefully your willingness to get into emotional concerns, both your
own and those of your classmates. While the atmosphere of the class tends
to be supportive, it is not one in which you can just sit back and check
it all out. It demands active participation and a willingness to take interpersonal
This class requires consent of the instructor, both to gain entry and for
continued enrollment. Because this course is one that tends to stir up emotional
issues, students need to assess their own readiness to undertake such training
at this time, as well as submitting to the professional judgement of the
instructor. On rare occasions, it may be necessary to ask a student to drop
Here are some of the things we look for in terms of prerequisites:
- Junior, Senior, or Grad status
- prior experience in the role of counselor or client
- prior experience with process-oriented courses, such as Group Process,
Gestalt, Myths-Dreams-Symbols, or other courses that place a lot of emphasis
upon group-process, self-disclosure, and personal interaction
- appropriate preparatory coursework such as Introduction to Psychology,
Abnormal Psychology, Personality, and/or History & Systems
Class meets twice a week. Usually, the first meeting of the week
will be devoted to didactic presentations in the form of lectures, discussions
of the reading, films, and so on. The second session will generally be an
experiential laboratory involving role-playing, video feedback, demonstrations,
group exercises, and so on.
This class is graded on an A - F basis. Grades are based on (1) your performance
on exams covering the three required books, (2) a final integrative paper
on your co-counseling experience, and (3) attendance. To earn a grade of
"A" you must score 90% or above, 80% or higher for a "B,"
and so on.
There are a couple of points I should make about grading. First, I tend
not to lecture on the books. I expect you to read the books and get the
significant material out of them on your own. I generally prefer to use
class time to introduce supplementary material rather than go over material
which the author has already presented. However, you have a standing invitation
to ask any questions you wish in class, about the reading or whatever.
The other point I wish to make about grading is that your grades are based
upon exam performance, papers, and attendance but not upon my assessment
of your counseling skills. This approach has both strengths and weaknesses.
One strength of this approach is that it frees you up to experiment and
to make mistakes without worrying about how it will affect your grade. Furthermore,
any judgements I might have about your counseling skills would be highly
subjective and difficult to substantiate in the event of any disagreement
between us. The disadvantage of not grading your ability as a counselor
is that you might have great counseling skills and do terribly on the graded
parts of the class, ending up with a low grade that doesn't reflect your
true potential as a counselor. This rarely happens but when it does, I am
happy to write strong letters of recommendation for such students, stressing
that the grade is not reflective of their actual counseling skills. Finally,
I would advise that you not let your grade be your central concern. There
is quite a lot of benefit that you can derive from this class regardless
of what grade you get. Keep that in mind.
A 3 - 4 page, typewritten autobiography is due the second week of class.
This autobiographical statement is ungraded but absolutely required. It
will be read by everyone in the class and will become an important part
of the process of choosing co-counseling partners.
Finally, a 4-page, typewritten, co-counseling paper is required at the end
of class. This paper is graded. It should describe the process of your co-counseling
sessions, including a self-assessment of your own strengths and weaknesses
in the both the counselor and client roles, resistances encountered, how
they were dealt with, and so on. It is highly recommended that you keep
a journal of your co-counseling sessions. This will be an invaluable aid
when it comes time to write your co-counseling paper.
Class attendance is required. You can miss up to three class sessions without
penalty. Anyone missing more than three class sessions can expect to be
penalized 2% for each additional cut.
Counseling and Therapy Skills by Martin
Interpersonal Process in Psychotherapy (2nd ed.) by Teyber
The Search For Existential Identity by Bugental
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