Hello! My name is Somer Kundla and I am a Counseling and Human Services major planning to pursue my master's in Clinical Mental Health Counseling upon graduation. I enjoy being present with people and listening to unique stories that encompass who people are and where they come from. I have a strong interest in learning about the ways in which I can help people seek the help they are looking for while not losing sight of who the person is holistically. The purpose of this presentation is to present to other counseling and human service individuals the ways in which our field aligns/desynchronizes with Catholic Social Teachings and Laudato Si.
The first placed I carried out community-based learning was at Keystone Mission in Scranton. Keystone Mission is an organization that provides community meals, after school youth programs, and food and clothing distribution to those in the community who are homeless or undeserved. Through learning about Catholic Social Teachings and reflecting on my experience of sorting and folding clothing, Keystone Mission has given me the experience of providing community members a sense of human dignity and respect in a way I never thought about before.
Principle one of CST as it relates to Geppert's article also relates to an idea offered by Pope Francis in Laudato Si (LS). LS, para. 46 speaks to social dimensions of global change that include the effects of technological innovations on social exclusion, social break down, increased violence, and a rise in new forms of social aggression. While one in my field would like to believe that Tennessee unions did not pass a rule that dismisses counselors from working with patients due to a difference in beliefs/principles, it is not to say that counselors who have the ability to abide by this rule do not exhaust the rules power. Refusing to see a client due to cultural differences, sexuality, ethnicity, etc. may speak to Francis's concern that factors such as social exclusion and social aggression are signs that growth of the past two centuries has not always led to an improvement in the quality of life. I believe these are some of the reasons this counseling program stresses the important of multicultural counseling and the importance of taking ourselves out of the equation.
As previously mentioned, economics, politics, and laws/policies directly affect everyone's world view and how they experience the world. I completed service hours with Allied Services of Scranton in their recreational therapy department where these aspects had a direct and clear effect on the institutions patients. For example, patients were encouraged to attend daily activities as means to keep them engaged. They explained this was one of the means by which they worked to prevent further deterioration and isolation of those residing within their facility. It seemed as though the patients who had a positive outlook on their lives and whose family recently visited were much more receptive to socializing with both the staff and other residents. While this sounds lovely on the surface, it did not go unnoticed by me that those who lacked this same experience and did not put themselves out there to attend activities were left to sit where ever the last person left them. They most likely experienced not only the emotional/psychological effects of not engaging with family, but also the emotional/psychological effects of isolation experienced within the community of other residents residing on the same floor. I think as professionals we need to do more to ensure that we are trying to engage EVERYONE regardless of how their level of interest presents on the surface. It comes down to what is best for all of the residents. For this example, it should be that if the activities presented are not of interest to everyone, we attempt to find something that appeals to them as a means to remain consistent with attempting to prevent further deterioration/isolation and instill a sense of satisfaction among this population of people.
Counselors hold a responsibility to themselves and their clients just has clients hold responsibilities to the counseling relationship and to themselves. As counselors, there are fitness to the profession codes of conduct as well as ethical responsibilities that are expected to be upheld. In doing so, we are ensuring that we are being competent providers of care to our clients who are seeking change. Clients have the responsibility to be open and honest with their counselor and to implement changes discussed in the office into their daily lives. In counseling and CST, both entities in the relationship, no matter where they come from or what job they possess, have a duty and responsibility to help fulfill these rights for one another, for their families, and for the larger society.
So far I have attempted to present our current situation within the counseling field by drawing attention to its parallels and incongruencies with Catholic Social Teachings and Laudato Si. I hope that the presentation of these teachings and the ideas Pope Francis bestows upon us can help to inform students and practitioners of how we can become better users of knowledge in relation to practice.
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