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ED 109 529 







CG 009 934 

Yager/ Geoffrey 'G.1u* 

Self-Contr<^|^ppli^ations • to Counselor Education, 
^12p*; Papei^presented at the Annual Convention of the 
"imerican" Personnel and Guidance Association (31st, 

New York, New York, March 23-26, 1975) 



♦Behavior Change; *Change Strategies; ^Counselor 
Training; *Self Control; *Skill Development,; 

An argument is made that all counseling should be 
aimed at eventually transforming helpees into helpers. The method of 
achieving this, aim is to develop the client's skills of behavior 
change. The manned of encouraging these "counselor skills" involves 
the achievement of self-acceptance through two possible approaches: 
Magic and self-control. Although not totally without magic, the 
teaching of the self-control approach seems to be the more likely 
choice. Thus, the implementation of self-control projects by clients, 
counselor- trainees, and counselor-educators is " encouraged. 




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, Hrt OOC^ENT H*» 

ou ^ « o- 0 *": 1 ; o°op"n,on. 


1 . . 

Geoffrey G. Yager 
University of NortfjyPakota 

Anierican Personnel and Guidance Association 
Annual, Meeting 
New York, New York 
March, 1975 

Ses'i, u o ^ too 


An argument is made that .all counseling should be aimed at eventual 
transforming helpees into helpers. Jhe method of achieving this aim is 
to develop 'the -client's? skills of behavior change. The manner of 
encouraging thetee "counselor skills" ^involves the achievement of self- 

acceptance through two possible approaches: Magic and self-contral . . 

% \ ' 

Although not totally without magic, the teaching of the self -control' 


app/pach seems to be the 'mofe likely Thus, the implementation o 
self-control projects by clients, counselor-trainees, and counselor- 
educators Is encouraged. ~ . 


All of counseling, at whatever level it occurs, is counselor, 
education, and university professors should not be alone ih claiming 
the title "counselor eMucaftor!" 

What <3oes this statement mean? The point made in this assumption 
is that couriseling practitioners should realize that" the most effective 
outcome of a' series of counseling contacts is not simply a well- 
adjusted client, but it is also a new counselor! If the counselor's 
job has been maximally carried out,, the client will have learned certain 
skills that will be of value in alleviating any new* concerns and unexpected 
dilemmas. Additionally, this-client should' have the 4 ability to employ ' 
these same skills to aid others (Carkhuff, 1971). A brief outline of 
the implications of this conceptual idea is presented in Table 

' ~ - f ■ 

Insert Table 1 about here ' j ' . 

V ' . . ' ' 

The skills that will allow the* client to Subsequently become 

a counselor and the counselor &> become a counselor-educator are those 
of self-modification and' self-control. It is the potential use, of such >x 
approaches in the broad context of counselor education that is the focus 
of this paper. ( 




Perhaps all counselors would agree that the development of self- 
sufficiency or - self-control occurs concurrently with successful counseling. * 
Not all, howevetr, would' concur on -the process of "teaching" those skills. «f 
Much of the literature of counseling has devoted attention to one major,, 
goal and, seemlingly, assumed that with the attainment of that goal, ' ' 
self-sufficient would be established. Although the reader may be'guess- 
ing that the major goal of earlier counseling theories has been "awareness" 

or "insight 11 , this writer f^els that the final goal even in the "insight 
approaches" i$ one step- fur ther : "self-acceptance/' 

To breifly substantiate the importance of self-acceptance to 


counseling theory, one might- allude to the works of Rogers, Ellis, 
Hajrris, ^nd "recent popular literature. Rogers (1951) discusses the '* 
importance of the dissolution of the "conditions of worth" in client- 
centered therapy. Conditions of tforth are, in essence, covert thoughts . 
that are inconsistent .with a person's experiential awareness. In order' 
to become self-sufficient, a client needs to eliminate these "shoulds," 
"oughts", and "musts" which create a lack of acceptance of ones own 
feelings. Ellis (1962) encourages therapists 'to directly attacks 

client's irrational thoughts and beliefs in Rational Emotive Therapy. 

* • ' " / 

These irrational thoughts, are normally self-deprecat$tig, and therefore, 

to eliminate them is to increase onfe's self-acceptance. Harris 

soften, i 

"I'm O.kM 

(1969) and Bd'rhe'TlBtel) have described how important the reestablishment 

of the "I m O.Kv" life position is to successful outcomes in transactional 



analysis. Finally, in building an Argument for^tlie perceived importance 
of self-acc^ptlance to growth and change ya counseling, mention should be y 

made of the plethora of "self-help" books on the popular market. Peale's 
Power of Posittive Thinking (1952), Bach's Johnathan Livingston Seagull 


t 1970) , and the Berkqwitzes' How to be Your Own Best Friend (1973), are. 
all selling t^e same message: You've got to accept yourself! 

Although many counselors who are behavioral in ori-entatipn may not. 
attend to the message 'inherent in all of^this accumulated, literature, it 
nonetheless is there: self-acceptance may not be the only goal for 
counselor education, but it may well be a prerequisite for any other 
goals! We may need to be self-accepting before we can offer help to 


.» V 


It appears to this writer, then, that our first step in a counselor 
edilcation program (in either our traditional definition of counselor* educa- 
iV tion or in the broader perspective suggested in this paper) should be to 

^ develop self-acceptance. How can wef accomplish this task? Initially, 

of course, we must define "self-accsptance . " ^ view which seems to fit 

quite well the notions of the theorist^ pfevfSSgiy cited* is that a lack 
of self-acceptance involves thd occurrence of covert, negative, irrational 
thoughts within the individual. We might call covert ft thoughts ,, 
conditions of worth," "irrationaliities ," or "I'm not O.K.s," but whatever 
title we give them, they are, in essence, a "nonsense in the head" which 
tells a person of certain unacceptable qualities and behaviors. Thus, 
self-acceptance is defined 1 as the internal state of an individual who lacks 
debilitating, irrational, self-defeating thoughts. 

Employing this definition clari|ies the unquestioned maxim that coun- ° 
selors should be self-accepting during their counseling activities. Before 
they can most: effectively hear and understand their clients*, counselors need 
to clear their- brains of self-defeating thoughts. Our minds are incapable . 
of thinking two thoughts at the sg,me time! The more attention we give to 
self-deprecatlpn (e.g., "I shouldn't have said that," "I'm really sounding 
like an idiot," or "What can I say next time now that I've blown it?") 
the less available "brain time" there is to hear and to integrate what the 
client is saying. 

* . ' V 


* ' '»* 
Suggestions and idfeas as to how to. develop self-acceptance abound 

in the counseling literature. This writer, ^however, sees all possible 

approaches as collapsible into two general categories. 

1 . * 


• the first of these two. methods 'of * encouraging self-apceptance is 
the olfler and more established mode of procedure: '^gic! Magic is defined" 
as the. creation oV a belief system that will allow the magician to say to . 
a 'client "You are well," and have the client believe that to be true. 
Psychological research substantiates the impressive contributions to * ' 
behavior change made by such "magical" phenomenon as placebo effects, 
Hawthorne effects, persuasion, and expectations (Fish, 1973; 'Frank, 1973). 
' Faith healers, as another example, do in fact work miracle cures in some 
cases. Certainly, counselors and^herapists must realize that, in part, 
the effectiveness of their therapy is that the client knows the counselor's ' 
reputation (magic) and believes that changes will occur! " 

As counselor educators, then,, we should maximize our "magic"Vo maximize 
our effectiveness in creating self-acceptance in counseldr-trainees . The 
attemp^d implementation of magic, however, runs into difficulty in that we 
do not know at this point what factors best operate to' improve the client's 
belief in our "powers.'" Degrees hanging on the wall, a$rof essional demeanor,' 
national prestige ,^„d personal charisma may all help,' but research has not 
yet told -us all *Ad like to know about magic! 

There another difficulties inherent in the magical approach to 
developing self-acceptance. .First of all, the temporary nature of most , 
magic is a^major concern. Unless the environment supports the self-accepting 
befief system, »a relapse is very likely. The classic example" is that of 
the group participant who is exhilerated" and enlivened by the encounter in 
the mountains only to find no lasting change's a mere two weeks later" Secondly, 
there .are, many coyns.elor educators who would be very uncomfortable with the * 




implementation of magic as a result of* personal characteristics, situational 
factors, or both. F inally, magic may sometimes create "over-accepting 

monsters. Such failures in the system are people who have become accepting, 


of themselves beyond their own levels of awareness. Thus, these people might 
be able to hurt ,and destroy others without being aware of the consequences 
a^their actions and without any apparent lack of self-acceptance. 


? . 

V If magic has its faults, then perhaps we should consider the second 
general method of encouraging self-acceptance. The second manner of achieving 
self-acceptance should not-be a surprise: self-control (Thoresen and Mahoney, 
1974; Mahoney and Thoreson, 1974). Def initionally , self-control is nothing 
more than clients acting to direct and manage their own changes in behavior. 
When people learn that they have control pV^r their own behaviors, they 
realize that un'desired hehaviors are alterable and need not be continued sources 
of self-deprecati^. Those behaviors which are positive can be increased as ' 
those which are nefgative are eliminated. Initial .self-change projects are. 
often designed on a small scale to guarantee success, (and self-acceptance). 
Until a learYier experiences success', s/he may not believe it can be accomplished. 
One success^, however, will lead to another,, and the next self-change attempt 
may well involve more complex change (and more prevalent and permanent self- 
acceptance). The skills of self-control are sufficiently powerful to prove 
to the clients^ tiat they are unusual, that they are unique, and that they are 
acceptable ! 

Self.-acceptance, it must be remembered, does npt imply that a person is 
totally satisfied with all aspects of life. Self-acceptance, in being the 
lack of irrational "self r put-downs", implies the. ability to say to oneself: 



. • , -6- % . 

"Yes, I've made a mistake, and I don't like this b^^vior. Now I'll have 
to do something about it!" Self-control is the "doing something about itl" 
He fortunately do not need to be .perfect to be accepted. 

Although as counselor educator we would in, no way wish to eliminate 
the helpfml aspects of magic in our work^it is. clea^: in .many ways that self- 
pontrol is often the desired manner of developing self-acceptance.. Certainly, 
self-control is not without magical components itself, but the process in- 
cludes features designed tp make permanent changes and to create skills 
which are useful again and again. Also, the implementation, of self-control 
'program often requires little more tftan the knowledge of t&e instructor (the 
counselor educator). Finally, the "over-accepting monster?- v is unlikely 
because of the emphasis on the use Qf self-awareness and self-monfDoring 
in the self-control process. 

The corridor to self-acceptapA^ is undoubtedly self-control! Lest we 

become blinded by the simplicity of this statement, howler, we must i 

remember that self-control cannot occur instantaneously. It takes time and 

concentrated efforts: Although self-control is the corridor to self-acceptance ^ 

it is one with many turns and more than a few detours. 

■** , 


The last question which must logically be raised is "How do counselor 
educators teach other 'counselor educators 1 self-coht^ol?" The answer is 
straightforward: we teach by doing! We model self-change for our students 


and our clients, and we ask them to do likewise. Often, the only way to 


know how to teach a subject effectively is to experience it yourself. The 

$ *. 

first ste^j, a first successive* approximation, of effective counseling is to 

plan and**£a$ry out a self-control project (Watson & Tharp, 1972). This 

* 'I - 

^prepares the "counselor educator trainee" to offer similar aids to present 

' • *S • ' . ■ . 

and future clients. % 

The stages in a self-control program are carefully discussed prior 
to implementation so as^to insure maximal effectiveness of the project and - 
maximal retention of the principles at ? a later time: (a) the behavior to 
be altered must be operationally specified; (b) ^ careful self-observation 
period is used to establish baselinef (c) realistic behavioral goals are - 
determined; (d) successive approximations are integrated with certain ante- 
cedent- or consequence-oriented strategies for Change; and, finally, (e) be- 


havior change is attempted arfd carefully evaluated for additional possible 
alterations. At the end of counseling, the client has developed these 
skills with sufficient clarity to be. able to suggest help to friends or 
relatives who may need to make certain . changes within themselves. The 
difficulties and questions that the client has had will serve as excellent 
cues to ward off similar ptjoblems in future "counseling" contacts. (Again, 
Table 1 contains, an overview of this process.) • 

Ideally, these cli^t-counselors will develop more and more skill in 'con- 
sulting on the self-change -projects of others. They might perhaps choose to 

increase their helping behaviors through personal self-change projects. For 

v * 

example, appropriate targets f6r self-change might include listening skills 
and empathic communication. This kind of additional growth, although desired" 
in all clients, would, of course, be required of those enrolled in graduate 
programs in counseling. , 

* i 
Self-control projects clearly add unique inputs to counseling and to 

counselor training. They are a source of powerful cognitive and experiential 

impatj^upon trainees and clients^ 4 

In summary, 

A calm and hapjry counselee, this story has ^detailed 

Of a long trip through therapy and the changes it entailed 
"I have believed in magic and-'sought a lucky charm: 

A power to ward^evil off and keep me safe from harm." 
"In t\\e coarse pf^therapy, I found just such a talisman, 

But when I looked upon it, no magic did it .hold,. 

For on its shiny Surface was m£ face reflected in the gold 

"I can seek attention: Ask friends to comfort and console, 


, But I musC also be aware, my final answer's self-control . 11 

tf 1 






Bach, R. Johnathan Livingston Seagull: A stury . * New York: * ^ 

Macmillan, 1970. 

Berkowitz, M. and Berkowitz, B. How to be your own best- friend . New Ydrk: 

Random House, 1973. 
Berne, E. Transact ional analysis' iq psychotherapy . New York: Grove 

Press, 1961. 0 f t 

. • . 4 1 

Carkhuff, R.R. Training as the preferred made of treatment. Journal of 

i3 ' — : 

Counseling Psychology , 1971, 18, l£3-13l. 
Ellis, A.. Reason and emotion in -psychotherapy . New York: Lyle Stuart, 

Inc., 1962. . • %m " 

Fish, J.M. Placebo therapy . San Fransisco: 6 Jossey-Ba&s , 1973. 
.Frank/ J.D. Persuasion and healiftg . ) Baltimore: Johns Hopkins 

University Press, 1973. J* * 

Harris,. T. A. I f m o.k. - you're p.k . New York: Harper & Row, 1969. 
Mahoney, MlJ. and Thoresen, C.E. Self-control: Power to the person . Monterey 

California: Brooks/Colfc, 1974. < 
Peale, N.V. The Power of positive thinking , 'Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: 

Prentice-Hall, 1952. , - 

Rogers, C.R. Client-centered therapy , Boston: Moughton Mifflin, 1951. 
Thoresen, C.E. and Mahoney, M.J. Behavioral Self-control . New York: Holt, 

Rinehart' and Winston, 1974. 

Watson, D. L. & Tharp, -R. G. Self-directed behavior: Self-modification for • 
personal adjustment . Monterey, California: Brooks/Cole, 1972. - 

. TABLE 1 

* # * 


Development of the Self Control Process through Counselor Education 


Academic Counselor — > Counselor Trainees 
£ Educators ' / 

Level I Universities 

Level II 

Level III 

Level IV 

Level V 

Institutions and 
Agencies for the 
Helping Services 

The Larger Community 
(including places of ^ 
business , homes\of 
cJLients and friends, 
etc. ) 

Trained Counselors ^Clients 


The Larger Community 


Clients with sel£- * Relatives, friends, 
control skills ^ and neighbors 

Se If -cont rolled- 
friends and