My Philosophy on Teaching in Counselor Education
James L. Moore III, Ph.D.
Over the years, the United States has undergone numerous changes and unfortunately many segments of society are not functioning optimally. Many of the changes are, directly or indirectly, related to economics, technological advancements, and demographic shifts. Increasingly, counselors (e.g., school, mental health, etc.) are being requested to provide services and interventions that assist people to function more effectively in our changing global society.
My philosophy on teaching in counselor education is based on didactic, experiential, and applied research experiences where students can develop the competencies and skills essential to becoming professional counselors, advocates, and leaders in the 21st century. It is important that counselor educators help develop students’ conceptual thinking skills and nurture their inquiring minds about the art of counseling. In order to develop such helping professionals, it is important that counselor educators are (a) well grounded in the “art of counseling,” (b) knowledgeable of traditional and new cutting edge counseling practices and techniques that enhance human development, and (c) capable of adapting and teaching innovative practices and techniques to students.
As a counselor educator, I am fully aware of the importance of integrating technology, research, and applied experiences in the classroom. In my opinion, the art of teaching in counselor education is a tireless pursuit of exploration and discovery for both the instructor and the students. It is not limited to mere readings and abstract conceptualizations nor is it confined to only classroom experiences. It is a lifelong process where people and new bodies of knowledge are constantly shaping the helping profession. Therefore, I believe that my duty, as a counselor educator, is to design assignments and activities where students can learn to think critically and analytically about not only what appears in textbooks but also about the art of counseling. Such a pedagogical approach requires students to “open up” and make connections with their life time experiences to determine how these experiences might impede or enhance counseling relationships with future clients. More importantly, this approach provides a basis for maximizing the potential of students as individuals and as counselors. From this perspective, the curriculum, whether it is in school or mental health counseling, should reflect multiple perspectives of human development and counseling. Such information is critical for helping counseling students develop a keen awareness of appropriate or inappropriate practices for cross-cultural populations.
As students progress through our counseling curriculum and, of course, build confidence in themselves as counselors, they will gravitate naturally to theories and conceptual models that embody their personal philosophies of counseling. It is conceivable that counseling theories have different meaning for different people. Therefore, it is important that counselor educators explain and demonstrate the advantages and disadvantages of various counseling theories. This is easily achieved through traditional forms of counseling pedagogy, such as assigned readings, research projects, case studies, and various experiential exercises.
The underlying premise of my teaching philosophy in counselor education is relatively simple. It requires combining multiple intellectual, social, emotional, and practical learning experiences to prepare future counselors for the rigorous demands, as well as the rewards of being a counselor. Upon successful completion of their program of study, students should demonstrate a high rate of competency in the following core counseling areas: foundations, ethics, research, theories, human/career development, assessment, and cross-cultural issues. Also, I believe that students should have every opportunity to succeed and reach their maximum potential, and I further believe that counselor educators should make every attempt to model professionalism and to guide students toward responsible citizenship.