According to Hansen in his article Consequences of the Postmodernist Vision, what are the advantages and disadvantages of viewing counselor professional identity as “created in individual...

According to Hansen in his article Consequences of the Postmodernist Vision, what are the advantages and disadvantages of viewing counselor professional identity as “created in individual practitioners by the demands of local counseling environments?”

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M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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The 2010 article  "Consequences of the Postmodernist Vision: Diversity as the Guiding Value for the Counseling Profession" argues that, with the exception of multicultural theory, counselors tend to continue practicing under a modernist perspective.

The basic debate between modernist versus the postmodernist perspective is the "essential versus anti-essential". The modernist counselor aims to tap the real client and bring out the client's real identity and concept of the self. The postmodernist does not believe that such "essence" exists and that there are, in fact, many different levels of reality in the life of one client; that the client is much more compartmentalized and that the "essence" of the client is more than one. Hence, all aspects of the client should be considered during counseling as well as considering the possibility that such essences change and vary from one situation to another. 

This concept is hard to grasp when one has been trained to understand personality as ONE concept. But to think that one client might have a diversity of personality types that vary from scenario to scenario invites modern science to revisit its practices and make them more holistic. 

The view of the counselor's identity as a result of a variety of local counseling environments is advantageous under the following situations:

  • the counselor realizes that he/she can deviate from the usual course of intervention and try something new and on the spot
  • the counselor is able to understand his own practice under different scopes and with the same client
  • the counselor is able to seek for other traits in the client that had not been explored nor touched upon before
  • the counselor gets to know the client from another point of view and perspective. 
  • the counselor is able to better help the client. 

The disadvantages come from changing the idea of the counselor as a representative of his profession. If counselors are told that they are something other than the enforcers of their profession, this can lead to a professional identity crises where.

self-congruence and singularity as the foundational ideal of professional identity discourse, this would substantially change the nature of the dialogue and lead to profoundly different conclusions about the professional identity of counselor.

The danger of a faulty professional identity is that the dialogue with the client might change, since the professional may award him or herself tasks and duties that may come as a result of seeing their professional identity change. For example, if a counselor follows verbatim his role only to be told by a new Postmodernist leader that he also has to care for the spiritual essence of the client, the counselor may change the dynamics of counseling altogether and potentially ruin the process. Other disadvantages include:

  • dissonant identities co-existing in one same professional I.E., "I am both counselor and friend" or "I am both counselor and ______". If the counselor chooses an identity that is not au pair with the primary one, conflicts may occur.
  • conflict of character- if a counselor decides to be "counselor, friend, psychologist, priest, leader",  the client will not be served well. A counselor should understand what their task at hand is and decide their professional identities based on that, client by client. 
  • conflict of interests- these may lead to what a client may perceive as harassment, or unwelcome jests. 
Sources:

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