Category Archives: Counseling and Psychotherapy Theory and Practice

Happiness Homework: Week 2 — University of Montana

Peg and John Singing at Pat's Wedding

Yesterday the happiness class focused on the context of happiness and happiness habits. On my powerpoint slides, I managed to reverse the numerator and denominator of Bono’s happiness equation, resulting in my abject humiliation in front of the class. This led to my personally disclosing my most humiliating experience ever, thereby demonstrating how contextual experiences in the here-and-now can trigger memories that can then either magnify or minimize an experience of happiness or unhappiness in the moment. I’ll spare you the details of my historical humiliations, and instead, direct you toward this week’s happiness homework assignments.

By now, students have read chapters one and two in Tim Bono’s book, “When Likes Aren’t Enough: A crash course in the science of happiness.” Additionally, they listened to a Hidden Brain podcast on Creatures of Habit: https://www.npr.org/transcripts/787160734, and watched a short Forest Bathing video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W0MEFNyLPag

The two take-home assignments of the week are described below:

Active Learning Assignment 3 – Three Happy Places

More often than we might think, our environment, setting, or context directly influences our mood and sense of well-being. This is most obvious when we’re in settings or environments that we find aversive.

To start this assignment, reflect briefly on environments, settings, or contexts that you find aversive. For example, some people find cloudy days, rain, smoky skies (or rooms), or particular temperatures aversive or uncomfortable. Other people might find churches, gyms, or libraries aversive.

Now, consider the opposite: What environments, settings, or contexts do you find pleasurable, comforting, or energizing? As you may have noticed in the short “Forest bathing” video, there’s evidence that, in general, more time in the outdoors is linked to increased feelings of well-being. For this assignment, don’t worry about what “should” be your happy place. . . but if the outdoors is a happy place for you, be sure to include it.

After reading and reflecting on the above, write a few words (short answers) in response to the following prompts:

  1. List three settings that usually trigger negativity or discomfort in you.
  2. List three settings that usually trigger happiness and wellbeing in you (and be specific). These are your happy places
  3. What can you do to prepare for or cope with challenging settings that usually cause you discomfort? (Other than avoiding them)
  4. What can you do to increase the frequency of time you spend in environments that contribute to your feelings of wellness?
  5. What can you do to create places or spaces in your mind that you can use (anywhere and anytime) to increase your sense of comfort and wellness in the moment?

Active Learning Assignment 4 – Three Good Things

Perhaps the most basic and well-known evidence-based happiness assignment is Martin Seligman’s Three Good Things activity.

Here’s Seligman’s description: Write down, for one week, before you go to sleep, three things that went well for you during the day, and then reflect on why they went well.

Just in case you want to hear it from the horse’s mouth, here’s a one-minute video of Seligman describing the activity: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZOGAp9dw8Ac

For this assignment, you should do the Three Good Things activity for a week, as prescribed by Seligman. Dan and I don’t need to see all 21 good things from your whole week, but we would like you to share the following with us:

  1. Three ESPECIALLY good things from the week (think of these of as your Good Things Highlights). We’re very excited to hear about these.
  2. The most common (summarized) explanations for why these 21 good things happened. We’re very interested in what’s happening (or what you’re doing) to create the good things in your day-to-day lives.

 

 

Happiness Homework: Week One – University of Montana

IMG_3098

In the friendly confines of a psychological laboratory, happiness is created rather easily. In the real world, happiness is more elusive.

Whether researchers have college students hold pens with their teeth or write down three good things or express gratitude, mood is boosted. In the real world, sometimes you have to force yourself to smile, and even still, you may not experience happiness.

You might wonder, do the small behaviors that improve mood in the lab result in sustained positive moods into the future? Martin Seligman, the contemporary psychologist most closely linked to the positive psychology movement (and author of Authentic Happiness and Flourishing) says yes. Although I’m less sure about this than Dr. Seligman, I am sure that many small behaviors over time—the sorts of behaviors that become positive habits (or positive routines)—can, for many, result in improved moods sustained over time.

Instead of assuming that everything Martin Seligman or other researchers say is true, in our University of Montana happiness class (COUN 195: The Art and Science of Happiness) we’re all about directly testing evidence-based happiness strategies. Part of the reason we’re testing these strategies is because we’re replicating nomothetic scientific findings in idiographic contexts. The true originator of positive psychology, Alfred Adler, would be happy about this. That’s because Adler believed we can never know if group scientific findings generalize to individuals, until we try them out with individuals.

In the spirit of positive psychology, and in an effort to develop and maintain healthy habits in college students, I’m giving small weekly homework assignments in the UM happiness class. Sometimes these assignments are verbatim (or nearly so) from published scientific research. Other times they’re assignments that Dan Salois (my TA) and I have created just for the class. This week’s assignments are home cooking.

I’m including these assignments on my blog so you can follow along with the class and experience different approaches to creating positive moods and psychological wellness. These assignments aren’t stand-alone miracles; they’re brief and simple behaviors purposely designed to elicit positive emotions and prompt you (and the happiness students) to reflect on the nature of positive emotions and wellness-oriented behaviors. They might work as intended, or they might not. I hope they work.

You have two assignments for this week.

Active Learning Assignment 1 – Happy Songs in Your Life

Music in general, and songs in particular, can trigger happiness, sadness, other emotions, and life memories. Sometimes our emotional responses to music are all about the music. Other times, our emotional responses are about the personal links, associations, or memories that songs trigger. For example, when I listen to “Joy to the World” by Three Dog Night, I’m transported back to positive memories I had playing 9th grade basketball. The song, “Put the Lime in the Coconut” will forever take me back to a car accident that happened with my sister in 1973. It’s not unusual for us to turn to music to help regulate our emotions or to heighten particular feelings.

For this assignment, do the following:

  1. Select a song that has triggers positive emotions for you.
  2. Listen to the song twice in a row and just let the song do its work. You can do this with a friend or by yourself. Don’t WATCH the song. If it’s a music video, shut your eyes and listen.
  3. After you’ve listened twice and let the positive feelings come, respond to the following prompts, and then upload your responses to Moodle.
    1. Write the name of the song and the musical artist (so we know the song).
    2. What emotion does the song bring up?
    3. What’s your best guess (hypothesis) for why the song brings up those particular emotions? (Share the lyrics or the links to life events that make the song emotionally important to you).
    4. Do you usually listen to that song to intentionally create a particular emotional state, or do you wait for the song to randomly pop into your life?
    5. Optional: share the song with someone and tell that person why the song triggers positive emotions for you.

Active Learning Assignment 2 – Witness Something Inspiring

Inspiring things are constantly happening in the world.

Martin Luther King Day is coming. Martin Luther King was a source of great inspiration for many. Over this coming long weekend you could watch a video recording of King’s “I have a dream” speech and feel inspired. You could also go on the internet and find something inspiring on social medial. But instead, just for fun (and for this assignment), we want you to watch for and observe something inspiring that’s happening in the real world.

The inspiring event that you notice may be small or it may be big. The key part of this assignment is that it involves intentionally watching for that which will inspire. Keep all your sensory modalities open for inspiration. Then, write Dan a short note (about 200 to 300 words) describing what you experienced. Your note should include:

  1. What it was like to intentionally pay attention to things that might inspire you.
  2. A description of what you observed.
  3. Reactions you had to the inspirational event.
  4. Anything else you want to add.

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Try these assignments for yourself (or not). If it strikes your fancy, you can post your reactions on this blog (or not).

I hope the remainder of your Martin Luther King weekend is fantastic.

Why I’m Angry about our Happiness Class at the University of Montana

JSF Creates Happiness

Last week, a friend of ours stopped to visit. She asked how our prep for the happiness class at UM was going. We said fine. She asked how we felt about the online comments that were critical of our new happiness class. Not having read any critical comments, I shrugged. She elaborated, “You know, people said that having a happiness class at UM is one of the things wrong with UM and higher education.”

Instantly, a small wave of anger rose up in my chest. I may have offered up a sarcastic retort or two. As is usually best, I’ll spare you the details of retorts. After she left, I ruminated a bit. I imagined a range of fantastic scenarios during which I experienced gratification from confronting our critics. These too, are best left to everyone’s imagination.

Eventually, I settled into a better place. I decided that the ironic conclusion is that I need to get more information about our new happiness class out there. One super-popular phenomenon right now—maybe especially in the age of the internet—has to do with people commenting on things, despite not having all the facts. I do it myself. Sometimes I critique things that I don’t know much about. Having an opinion is easy. Having an informed opinion is harder. Being partially informed generally makes critiquing others easier. I decided that, given my behavior, I shouldn’t complain too much when people disparage our happiness class, even though they don’t have all the facts.

This brought me to a calmer place. Instead of venting anger, I’m channeling my anger into the proliferation of information.

To start, for critics of our happiness course at UM, I have a few questions, some of which may still have an angry edge.

  1. What do you know about the origins of the positive psychology movement? Were you in San Francisco at the American Psychological Association conference in 1998, when Martin E. P. Seligman officially launched the strengths in psychology movement? I was. Using my best academic jargon, being in the room when Seligman changed the course of modern psychology was pretty cool stuff.
  2. Do you know why Seligman launched the positive psychology movement? Do you have any sense of what he was studying before he pivoted toward strengths and positive psychology? Ever heard of learned helplessness?
  3. Did you know there’s an academic Journal of Positive Psychology? Have you read any JPP research articles? How about the Journal of Happiness Studies? Been doing any reading there? If not, you might want to consider enrolling in a class in happiness. You’re too late to get into ours, but there’s a ton of online and in-person stuff out there from Yale, Berkeley, Harvard, and other institutions, although I prefer the University of Montana.
  4. What do you suppose Aristotle thought about happiness? Have you heard of eudaimonia? Do you understand what Aristotle meant by eudaimonia or anything pertaining to his concept of the golden mean? If not, you might want to consider a happiness class . . . or a Google search. The golden mean is very important to understanding virtue, and virtue, well, having virtue is virtuous, which is a good thing.
  5. Are you aware of the rates of depression, suicidality, anxiety, and unhappiness in college students? Are you aware that in published research studies there are at least a dozen specific experiential activities that have scientific evidence supporting their use to increase happiness? Can you name any? Have you tried any? How are you feeling? If you’re so damn grumpy that you spend your time posting negativity on social media, you should definitely consider a happiness class. One interesting tidbit of research information that I’ll share in our happiness class is the fact that the number of hateful Twitter words used in specific counties in the U.S. are significantly correlated with increased coronary heart disease events in those same counties. Does that mean offering up nasty posts or tweets will increase your risk of death from a heart attack? Maybe. Maybe not. As I’m sure you know, the basic scientific rule that correlation does not imply causation means that there may be much more to the story. You might have to take a happiness class to learn whether intentionally posting fewer nasty comments online could increase your longevity.

Inspired by critiques of the existence of our happiness class (thank you, thank you so much!), I’ve decided to increase the frequency of my happiness posts and updates. Look for much more here on specific happiness assignments from our University of Montana Happiness Class. You can follow along. Unfortunately, the class is pretty much full-up now, but there will be more opportunities to take University of Montana happiness classes this summer and during the next academic year.

Below, I’ve included the description of the course from the syllabus:

COURSE CONTENT AND DESCRIPTION: Over the past 20 years, research on happiness has flourished. Due to the natural interest that most Americans have for happiness, research findings (and unfounded rumors) have been widely distributed worldwide. Every day, happiness is promoted via online blogs, newspaper and magazine articles, Twitter posts, Instagram videos, TikTok, and through many other media and social media venues. Ironically, instead of increases in national happiness, most epidemiological research indicates that all across the U.S., children, adolescents, adults, and seniors are experiencing less happiness, more depression, and higher suicide rates. To help sort out scientific reality from unsubstantiated rumors, in this course, we will describe, discuss, and experience the art and science of happiness. What this means is that we will define happiness, read a popular happiness book, examine scientific research studies, try out research experiments in class, engage in extended happiness lab assignments, and use published instruments to measure our own happiness and well-being. Overall, we will focus on how happiness and well-being are manifest in the physical, cognitive, emotional, interpersonal, spiritual, behavioral, and contextual/cultural dimensions of our lives.

Have a happy weekend . . . and watch for upcoming happiness assignments.

Integrating Multicultural Sensitivity into CBT

Woman Statue

A question and brief discussion on Twitter about integrating multicultural competence into CBT inspired me to look back and see what the heck we wrote for that section in our theories text. In the Twitter discussion, we agreed that Pam Hays’s work on CBT and multicultural content is good.

Here’s what I found in our theories text. Obviously it’s a short section and limited, but there are a few interesting points and a citation or two.

Cultural and Diversity Considerations in CBT

CBT focuses on symptoms as manifest within individuals. This position can be (and is) sometimes viewed as disregarding important culture, gender, and sexual diversity issues. For most cognitive-behavioral therapists, culture, gender, and sexuality aren’t primary factors that drive successful outcomes.

This position is a two-edged sword. In the featured case (in Chapter 8), Richard is a white male living a life squarely in the middle of the dominant culture. The therapist was committed to Richard’s well-being. If the client had been an Asian Indian or a bisexual or a woman experiencing domestic abuse the cognitive-behavioral therapist would have been equally committed to the client’s well-being. This is the positive side of CBT being less diversity-oriented.

The negative side is that CBT can be viewed and experienced as blaming clients for their symptoms, when the symptoms may be a function of diversity bias. D. Dobson and K. S. Dobson (2009) articulated the potential for clients to experience blame,

By virtue of looking for distorted thoughts, cognitive-behavioral therapists are more likely than other therapists to find them. Furthermore, some clients do react to the terms distorted, irrational, or dysfunctional thinking. We have heard clients say something to the effect—” Not only do I feel bad, but now I’ve learned that my thoughts are all wrong.” (p. 252)

Awareness of the possibility of client blaming is crucial. For example, what if Richard were a Black American male? And what if his therapist noticed that Richard’s thought record included numerous personalization examples? If so, instead of concluding that Richard is displaying oversensitivity and paranoid cognitions, his therapist should explore the possibility of microaggressions in Richard’s daily life.

The term microaggression was coined by Chester Pierce (1978). Microaggressions were originally defined as “the everyday subtle and often automatic ‘put-downs’ and insults directed toward Black Americans” but now this is expanded so they “can be expressed toward any marginalized group in our society” (Sue, 2010, p. 5).

Microaggressions are typically unconscious. For example, we had a female client come to us in great distress because her vocational instructor had told her “You’re pretty strong for a girl.” Although the vocational instructor defended his “compliment,” the young woman clearly didn’t experience the statement as a compliment. In this circumstance if a therapist is insensitive to culture and gender issues, the young woman might feel blamed for having irrational thoughts and overreactive behaviors. Sue (2010) recommends that mental health professionals exercise vigilance to address microaggression issues inside and outside of counseling. One way in which cognitive behavioral practitioners have addressed the potential for committing microaggressions against sexually diverse clients is by using LGBTQ affirmative CBT (Pachankis, Hatzenbuehler, Rendina, Safren, & Parsons, 2015).

Returning to racial/cultural microaggressions, let’s briefly pretend that Richard is a 6′7′′ Black American male. In his thought record he notes:

Situation: Walking into the local grocery store. Young female makes eye contact with me and then quickly turns around and goes back and locks her car.

Thoughts: She thinks I’m going to steal her car.

Emotions: Anger.

Behavior: I act rude toward her and toward other white people I see in the store.

If the Black American version of Richard has a therapist who looks at this thought record and then talks with Richard about the distorted thinking style of mind-reading (“Richard, you didn’t really know what she was thinking, did you?”) this therapist is showing cultural insensitivity and will likely be fired by Richard. This is an example of one of the many growing edges CBT should address with respect to women and minority clients.

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As always, your reactions to this content are welcome.

 

Three Top Jokes from the Funniest Counseling and Psychotherapy Theories Text on the Planet

Corey Wubbolding and SF

Rita keeps saying I’ve been laughing more. Last night we were watching an Australian soap opera featuring an overly aggressive goat. I got the giggles. Maybe it’s all this focus on happiness lately. Then again, we’re also writing a suicide assessment and treatment book, which partly translates into living in and cherishing every moment. So who really knows what’s up with me thinking angry goats are funny?

Last week I did a Zoom appearance in Dr. Julia Taylor’s theories class at the University of Virginia. As usual (this is my third year visiting her class), Julia had her students well-prepped; we had a fantastic discussion. One student, much to my delight, said our theories text was the funniest text ever, and that she learned more from it than she had in four years of reading undergraduate textbooks. I, of course, heartily agreed and thanked Elexus (I still remember her name) for her wonderful comments.

As a textbook writer, I don’t get a ton of positive feedback, but when I do, it tickles my heart and makes my day.

Today, after doing a private consultation with a mental health counselor in Denmark, I sent out a copy of the CBT chapter from our theories text. Before sending it, I read the first paragraphs, and laughed out loud. I’d forgotten that we somehow left my free associations about cognition in the chapter opening. I laughed partly because the prose was hilarious and partly because of a tinge of embarrassment that my irreverent writing might be just too much for some readers. Oh well. I hope not.

More importantly, reading that paragraph made me decide to feature three IMHO hilarious excerpts from our Counseling and Psychotherapy Theories in Context and Practice textbook (Yes, it’s funnier than it sounds, but then, that’s a very low hurdle). https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1119473314?pf_rd_p=ab873d20-a0ca-439b-ac45-cd78f07a84d8&pf_rd_r=FT4RVJG8794EET839Y97

Excerpt One: Free Associating to Cognition

Chapter Eight starts with the following magic.

We have many ideas about how to open a chapter about cognition. John wanted to say something pithy like, “You are what you think,” but Ralph Waldo Emerson got there first. Rita was considering, “As a woman thinketh” (a feminist version of James Allen’s 1903 book titled, “As a man thinketh”), but John countered with “As a person thinketh” and by then we’d grown weary of the word thinketh. Then Rita waxed Shakespeare-esk, saying, “There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so” which seemed a little better than the Buddha’s, “What you think you become” until we found the writings of Hafiz (a 14th century Persian poet):

Zero

Is where the Real Fun starts

There’s too much counting

Everywhere else!

(Ladinsky, 1996, p. 47)

Although Albert Ellis might respond to this poem by asking, “What the Holy Hell are you thinking,” we thought it was about clearing a cognitive space for meditation. Let’s start with zero.

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Okay. Just in case you’re not ROTFL now, here’s a clip from the existential chapter that will knock your socks off. This comes under the heading, “The I-Am Experience”

Excerpt Two: Existentialists and Hyphens

Existentialists like to use hyphens to capture the interconnectedness of phenomenological experience. For example, in contrast to May’s I-am experience, Boss (1963) and Binswanger (1933) used Dasein (which is translated to being-in-the-world) to describe the sense-of-existence. Also, the phrase, “Dasein choosing,” which is translated to the-person-who-is-responsible-for-his-existence choosing is used. We should note that this practice is in no way related to our own hyphenated last names, although it has inspired John to consider adding a hyphenated middle name so he can refer to himself in the third person as, “John-who-is-responsible-for-his-existence-Sommers-Flanagan,” which he thinks sort of rolls right off the tongue.

It follows, as-if-anything-really-follows-from-the-preceding, that existential therapy is nearly always in the service of self-awareness or self-discovery. However, unlike psychoanalysts, existentialists expand and illuminate client self-awareness rather than interpreting client unconscious processes. This is because existentialists believe the entirety of an individual’s human experience is accessible to consciousness.

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And now, the grand finale (although there are many more where these come from), and my personal favorite, from Chapter 11: Constructive Theory and Therapy

Excerpt Three: I’m Not Afraid of Philosophers

In this chapter, we de-emphasize distinctions between constructivist and social constructionist perspectives. Mostly, we lump them together as constructive theories and therapies and emphasize the intriguing intervention strategies developed within these paradigms. This may upset staunch constructivists or radical social constructionists, but we take this risk with full confidence in our personal safety—because most constructive types are nonviolent, strongly preferring to think, write, and engage in intellectual discussion. Therefore, within our own socially or individually constructed realities, we’ve concluded that we’re in no danger of bodily harm from angry constructive theorists or therapists.

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I’m sure many of you haven’t gotten the delight out of these hilarious counseling and psychotherapy theories humor that I have. Maybe that’s a sign that you too, should start studying happiness. On the other hand, reading theories books may have permanently warped my sense of humor. Either way, I hope you find sparkling moments and laughter here and there in your lives.

Draft Counseling and Psychotherapy Syllabus

Below I’m including a drafty copy of our Counseling Theories syllabus from the University of Montana. My apologies for the wacky font action.

Theories III Photo

**Draft – 2016 Standards Alignment in Progress**

 COUN 511: COUNSELING THEORIES & TECHNIQUES

COURSE SYLLABUS – UNIVERSITY OF MONTANA – Fall 2019

____________________________________________________________

INSTRUCTOR INFORMATION HERE:

Office:

Office Hours:

Email:

SCHEDULED CLASS MEETINGS:  Class meets on Mondays from 4:00pm to 6:50pm, beginning Monday, August 26, 2019. The oral final exam for graduate students is TBA.

COURSE CONTENT AND DESCRIPTION:  This course is an overview of major theories of counseling and psychotherapy with a special focus on gender, culture, counselor preparation, and common theory-based assessment and case formulation strategies. Because the purpose of counseling and psychotherapy is to help individuals make personally meaningful changes in their lives, we will consistently examine the means through which traditional theories attempt to produce such changes. Students will read about historical and intellectual foundations of major counseling theories, while at the same time, observing skills and techniques employed by practitioners using those theoretical perspectives. There will be opportunities, through assignments and class discussions, for students to analyze clients as well as themselves through the various lenses of psychological theories. Overall, students are encouraged not only to explore all the major theoretical orientations, but also to explore their personal beliefs and values in an effort to develop and deepen their understanding of counseling and psychotherapy process and outcome.

TEXTBOOK:  Required: Sommers-Flanagan, J., & Sommers-Flanagan, R. (2018). Counseling and Psychotherapy Theories in Context and Practice (3rd ed). Hoboken: NJ: Wiley.

Recommended: Sommers-Flanagan, J., & Sommers-Flanagan, R. (2012). Student manual for Counseling and Psychotherapy Theories in Context and Practice (2nd ed). Hoboken: NJ: Wiley.

COURSE OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this course is to introduce you to theories and techniques used by a variety of mental health professionals, school counselors, and other human service providers. We will explore and discuss the major theories and their practical application.

CACREP-Related Course Objectives: This course is a first Fall semester requirement for graduate students in Counseling at the University of Montana. The course includes content related to CACREP Core Standards and CACREP Specialty Standards. Specific key performance indicators are evaluated through course assignments, midterm and final examinations, and via an oral examination at the end of the semester. The oral examination focuses on the content of counseling theories and their application. The goals of the assessments in this course are to determine (a) how well the Counselor Education faculty is teaching specific CACREP-related objectives, (b) students’ ability to articulate and apply counseling theories, and (c) student readiness to enroll in counseling practicum (COUN 530).

DISABILITY ACCOMMODATIONS: If you are a student with a disability and wish to discuss reasonable accommodations for this course, contact me privately to discuss the specific modifications you wish to request. Please be advised I may request that you provide a letter from Disability Services for Students verifying your right to reasonable modifications. If you have not yet contacted Disability Services, located in Lommasson Center 154, please do so in order to verify your disability and to coordinate your reasonable modifications. For more information, visit the Disability Services website at www.umt.edu/dss/.

ACADEMIC INTEGRITY: All students must practice academic honesty.  Academic misconduct is subject to an academic penalty by the course instructor and/or disciplinary sanction by the University.  All students need to be familiar with the Student Conduct Code.  The Code is available for review online at http://www.umt.edu/vpsa/policies/student_conduct.php.

IN-CLASS BEHAVIOR STANDARDS AND LEARNING ENVIRONMENT: In the Department of Counseling and at the University of Montana we strive to establish and maintain a positive learning environment. The expectation is that we will strive to treat one another with respect . . . even when we disagree. This also means that students (and faculty) will turn off their cell phones and not engage in internet shopping/surfing/social networking during class. If calls and texting are necessary, you should either not attend class or take care of your calling and texting at class break. If you need to be on-call due to employment responsibilities, please let me know.

TEACHING METHODS:

1.  Lectures/class demonstrations.

  1. Guest lectures/student presentations.
  2. Video/DVD/Film presentations.
  3. Class activities.
  4. Class discussions.

GRADING PROCEDURES:  Grades are based on completion of class assignments, midterm and final examination scores, and class participation/attendance. Course assignments are listed and described in a separate section. The grading scale is below:

A   = 93%+                        B-  = 80-82%               D+ = 67-69%

  • = 90-92% C+ = 77-79%               D   = 63-66%

B+ = 87-89%                     C   = 73-76%               D-  = 60-62%

B    = 83-86%                    C-  = 70-72%               F    = Below 60%

APPROXIMATE SCHEDULE OF CLASS TOPICS AND ASSIGNMENTS

Week Date Assigned Reading In-Class Topic Assignments Due
1 8/26 Ch. 1

 

In future weeks, read chapters before class

Syllabus distribution and introduction to counseling and psychotherapy.

 

 

 

Be sure to login to the Moodle course supplement. This is mostly for communication and to give me something to complain about.
XX 9/2 None Labor Day No Class  
2 9/9

 

Ch. 2 Psychoanalytic Theory and Therapy.

 

 
3 9/16 Ch. 3 Individual psychology and Adlerian therapy – Guest Lecture with Dr. Veronica “Roni” Johnson  
4 9/23 Ch. 4 Existential theory and therapy Initial theories reflection paper due, by midnight 9/22/19  (30 points)
5 9/30

 

 

Review chapters 1-4 and lectures Midterm #1 – 1st hour: Covers chapters 1-4. [From 5:30pm to 6:50pm there will be a WHOLE CLASS skills lab focusing on person-centered therapy and mental imagery] Midterm #1 (50 pts)

Chapters 1-4 plus lecture material

6 10/7 Ch. 5 The person-centered approach.  
7 10/14 Ch. 6 Gestalt theory and techniques.  
8 10/21 Ch. 7 Behavioral theory and therapy.  
9 10/28 Ch. 8 Cognitive approaches (or CBT).  
10 11/4 Review readings and lectures. Midterm #2 – 1st hour.

Covers chapters 5-8, plus lectures. [From 5:30pm to 6:50pm there will be a WHOLE CLASS skills lab focusing on CBT.]

Midterm #2 (50 pts).

Chapters 5-8, plus lectures

9 11/11 Ch. 9 Choice theory and reality therapy  
11 11/18 Ch. 10 Feminist theory and therapy.  
12 11/25 Ch. 11 Constructive theory and therapy.  
13 12/2 Ch. 13 and 14 Multicultural theory and therapy and Counseling integration. Final papers due by midnight on Friday, 12/6/19
14 Week of 12/9 Review readings and lectures. Final examination.

Covers chapters 9, 10, 11, 13, 14

Final exam (50 pts). Chapters 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, plus lectures

The graduate oral final exam is TBD

OFFICIAL ASSIGNMENT DESCRIPTIONS

There are 290 possible points available (YOU CAN CHOOSE TO DO #3 A or B, BUT NOT BOTH).

  1. Two Midterm Examinations (50 points each; 100 total): These are standard multiple choice and short answer exams. They will cover material from all the lectures and chapters as outlined in the syllabus and worth 50 points each. You’ll be expected to take the exams at their scheduled times; if you have a time conflict, contact us in advance and we’ll set up an alternative exam time. If you have a last minute crisis (e.g., an accident, illness, or emergency) contact us ASAP and we’ll be flexible. In all cases, you’ll need to arrange a special time and sit for the exam within one week of the original exam date or you’ll get a zero. We will be flexible the first time. If a pattern of irresponsibility emerges, we’ll become less flexible and you’ll be required to take a much harder examination.
  1. Initial Theories Reflection Paper (30 points; see calendar for due date): This is a short paper designed to accomplish three objectives: (a) give you an opportunity, early in the course, to explore a concept from the text or from class in greater depth; (b) provide you with an initial, simple library-related assignment; (c) provide me with an early sample of your writing skills.

The paper can focus on virtually any topic addressed in class or covered in the first four chapters of the text. Here’s what you should do:

  • Select a topic: Sample topics include
    • The great psychotherapy debate
    • Informed consent
    • Multicultural competence
    • Doing no harm
    • The seduction hypothesis
    • Defense mechanisms
    • Feminism and psychoanalysis
    • Why children misbehave
    • Earliest recollections
    • Paradoxical strategies
  • Read the section in the text about that topic
  • Go to the library (or do an online search) and find a professional journal reference pertaining to your topic and then list it in APA format in the reference section of your paper.
  • Write a three page paper (following APA format) on your selected topic
  • In your paper write (a) a description of the topic or issue and why you think it is an especially important topic for beginning counselors; (b) additional information that you learned about the topic through your library research; (c) a reflection that includes critical comments about the topic/issue; and (d) some concluding comments about how this topic is relevant for you and your work in the future as a counselor

The paper will be graded in the following areas: (a) attention to detail/typos, etc. (3 points; 10%); (b) following APA format (3 points; 10%); (c) writing skills/grammar/organization (6 points; 20%); (d) general summary and accuracy regarding the topic chosen (12 points; 40%); (e) inclusion of some original and interesting thoughts about the topic (6 points; 20%).

  1. Choose ONE of the following assignments to complete:
    1. Theories or Cultural Book Review and Critique (50 points; see calendar for due date): The purpose of this assignment is for you, as an individual, to dive deeper into, and learn more about, a theory of interest to you. I have many books in my office that you can peruse for this assignment or you can go to the library or you can buy something on your own. After you’ve selected a book and check with me to make sure it’s acceptable, there are three parts to this assignment: (a) read your selected book; (b) write a four-page summary and critique of the book (include both a summary and critique—focusing on the book’s strengths and weaknesses as well as a description of how you will apply the information you learned from the book to your life in the future); and (c) be prepared to provide a ten-minute presentation on the book at our final class, although please note that book presentations may or may not happen depending on time – TBA. If they do, you should just say if you recommend the book to others and how you rate it on a 1-100 scale and engage the class in a brief demonstration of something you learned from the book.

Grading Procedures

This assignment is worth 50 points. To earn the 50 points you will need to turn in high quality work. You will lose points for typos, misspelled words, concepts that are defined poorly or used incorrectly, incomplete or unclear descriptions of the text. In particular, you will be graded on the quality of your summary and critique. Your summary will need to be accurate and show that you understand the content of the book. Your critique should show some sophistication of thought and reflection. Although your personal opinion is desired, you should also provide a critique based on a professional source (e.g., the text, a journal article, etc). Failure to cite at least one relevant reference linked to the book content will cause you to lose five points.

  1. Personal Change Project (50 points; see calendar for due date): The purpose of this assignment is for you to apply some sort of personal change strategy to yourself. Previously this was a purely behavior modification project, but due to diverse student interest, you can now engage in any personal change strategy you like.

The Details

You’ll be using APA Style. That means you’ll have the following sections:

  • Introduction: In this section you’ll introduce your target behavior and your rationale for choosing to change it. You’ll include a small bit of background research on different methods for potentially modifying your target behavior. This will require at least two professional journal citations (please, DO NOT cite online and unsubstantiated gibberish). Although you may have some incredible ideas yourself, the point is for you to NOT completely rely on your own idiosyncratic ideas about how to change your target behavior. For example, let’s say you chose to reduce your intake of sugar. There have been many books and articles written on diet change. I would expect you to read and reference a few of these.
  • Method: In this section you will identify and define a specific, measurable behavior that you would like to increase, decrease, or eliminate. This behavior is called your “target behavior.” For example, you might choose to increase exercise behavior. To begin this assignment, you need to have a clear, operational description of the behavior and a method for measuring the occurrence of the behavior. For example, if you select “push-ups” as your behavior to increase, you would need to define exactly what you meant by “push-up” and then detail a method for obsessively tracking (measuring) of your push-up behavior. Other behaviors people have chosen in the past include: (a) increasing dream recall; (b) decreasing cigarette smoking; (c) increasing smiling behavior; (d) decreasing fingernail biting behavior; (e) increasing study behavior, etc. Of course, I encourage you to identify what you want to change, rather than simply choosing one of the aforementioned target behaviors. The method also includes a description of your change plan. Describe it so well that it could be replicated. Your plan SHOULD NOT rely exclusively on your WILLPOWER. It should flow from your introduction or brief look at the scientific literature. When I grade your assignment I’m interested in the specific techniques you’ve gleaned from the text or outside readings. For example, if you’re using a behavioral approach, I’d look for you to use strategies like: (a) positive reinforcement; (b) punishment; (c) response cost; (d) negative reinforcement; (e) stimulus control; (f) stimulus generalization; (g) fading; (h) unconditioned stimulus; (i) conditioned stimulus, etc. If you choose to use a cognitive approach, consider using the three column technique, shades of gray, visualization, rational disputing, etc. Your method section includes the method through which you plan to make your changes. Please inform John of your target behavior before proceeding with the assignment. Email me at sf@mso.umt.edu or pass me a note in class informing me of your chosen behavior and general strategy. Tip: Don’t select an infrequent behavior because then it will take you several years to get done. Write a contract for yourself (e.g., “I Rita SF, do solemnly swear. . .”). Include the behavior, the plan, your goals, and a space for you and a witness (someone in your social environment) to sign and co-sign the contract.
  • Results: I’ll be looking for two main things in your results section. First, I want to see numbers or a chart or graph that you’ve used to track your target behavior. This will include a baseline measurement of your target behavior over at least one week. I need to be able to see and understand your progress or lack thereof. Second, to capture your qualitative experience, I want to see a weekly journal entry about how it’s going. Discuss your feelings, your personal experience and perspective, and why you think the project is working or not working. You can also modify your change plan during the semester, as long as you clearly identify how and why you’re going to change your approach in your weekly journal entry, also noting that in your results section. Remember that good counselors are very flexible and creative in their approach.
  • Discussion: The discussion is your reflection on the project. It focuses on “what happened” (the results) but also provides a platform for you to speculate on what helped, what didn’t, and why.
  • References: You need at least two professional citations in APA format.
  • Appendix: Include a signed (and countersigned) contract to yourself as a commitment to this behavior change project.

Grading Procedures

This assignment is worth 50 points. To earn the 50 points you will need to turn in high quality work. However, your grade on this project is NOT AT ALL based on your success or failure in changing your behavior.

You will lose points for typos, misspelled words, concepts that are defined poorly or used incorrectly, incomplete or unclear descriptions of what you did and what happened, etc. Failure to cite at least a couple of relevant studies, articles, or books will also lose significant points. Follow the outline and you’ll have a good start. Please do your best work. Good luck and have fun!

  1. Attendance (30 points): We’ll take attendance at every class. Perfect attendance is worth 30 points. You’ll lose an increasing number of points for each class missed (even if you miss class for legitimate reasons). You lose 0 points for missing one class (everyone deserves a mental health day), 6 points for missing two classes, 9 more (total = 15) for the third, 15 more (all 30 points are lost) for the fourth. There will be in-class reflection assignments. If you don’t turn these in or do a poor job you’ll lose attendance points. To be fair, you can earn back points from missing class by completing additional assignments. You can earn attendance points back by listening to recorded lectures (as available), contacting Kindle Lewis (the TA) who will give you an additional assignment (e.g., writing an essay or responding to several lecture-related questions). Alternative assignments may be used at our discretion. If you’re motivated you can recover lost points.
  1. Graduate Skills Lab (30 points): All students enrolled in COUN 511 or taking the course for graduate credit will participate in a Counseling Skills Lab. We will break into smaller groups for this and the exact time and place for the lab is TBA. It will consist of 6-8 meetings (two of which will be after the first midterm) during which you practice the skills associated with specific theories on each other. We will start communicating about lab meeting times during the first week of the semester. If you miss one Grad Lab, you lose 15 points. If you miss two Grad Labs, you lose all 30 points.
  1. Final Oral Examination (50 points): For all graduate students, you will sit for a small (about 10 students) 90 minute group examination. You will be given short answer questions and a role-play assignment at least one week prior to the exam to help you prepare and study. During the exam, you’ll be asked, at random, several questions from the questions you’ve been given (and hopefully have studied) and you’ll be asked to demonstrate via role-play several skills associated with at least one theoretical orientation. This exam format is designed to help you learn to orally articulate and apply some of the theories concepts we’ve studied during the semester.

CACREP KPIs for Core and Specialty Counseling Competencies

All courses in the Department of Counseling include content related to our national Counseling and Counseling-Related Educational Programs (CACREP) accreditation. CACREP identifies specific Core Standards as well as Specialty Standards. The following Table includes a listing of the CACREP Core and Specialty Standards covered by COUN 511 course content. Additionally, some of the standards listed below are the focus of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). KPIs are specific CACREP standards that are systematically evaluated in order to determine whether students are learning key CACREP-related course content. In this course (COUN 511), the KPIs are evaluated through using the course assignments, experiential laboratory activities, midterm and final examinations, and via an oral examination at the end of the semester.

Core Standard Content Found Key Performance Indicator
2. SOCIAL AND CULTURAL DIVERSITY    
b. theories and models of multicultural counseling, cultural identity development, and social justice and advocacy

 

COUN 511 – Students read about how each theory addresses culture, sexuality, and spirituality.

 

c. multicultural counseling competencies

 

COUN 511 – Students read about the MCCs in Chapter 1 and Chapter 13 of the textbook

 

 
d. the impact of heritage, attitudes, beliefs, understandings, and acculturative experiences on an individual’s views of others

 

COUN 511 – Students read about this content in Chapter 13 and participate in a classroom activity.

 

 
5. COUNSELING AND HELPING RELATIONSHIPS    
a. theories and models of counseling

 

COUN 511 – Students read about theories and models of counseling in their textbook and practice techniques linked to the theories in their counseling labs. Two midterm examinations and one oral final examination are used to measure student knowledge three times during the course.
b. a systems approach to conceptualizing clients

 

COUN 511 – Students read about systems approaches in Chapters 11 and 12.  
f. counselor characteristics and behaviors that influence the counseling process

 

COUN 511 – Students read about specific counselor characteristics and behaviors that influence counseling process and outcomes in the textbook.

 

 
g. essential interviewing, counseling, and case conceptualization skills

 

COUN 511 – Students read about how to engage in case formulation and treatment planning in every theories chapter of the textbook.

 

 
h. developmentally relevant counseling treatment or intervention plans

 

COUN 511 – Students read about counseling theories, treatments, and interventions that are more or less useful with specific developmental populations in the textbook.

 

None
i. development of measurable outcomes for clients

 

COUN 511 – Students read about measuring outcomes in every theories chapter of the textbook.

 

 
j. evidence-based counseling strategies and techniques for prevention and intervention COUN 511 – Students read about evidence pertaining to counseling strategies and techniques associated with each theory in the textbook.  
n. processes for aiding students in developing a personal model of counseling COUN 511 – Students read about how to integrate their personal ideas with existing theoretical models in the textbook. Students take a theoretical orientation test and write a one-page reflection on their initial preferred model of counseling.
8. RESEARCH AND PROGRAM EVALUATION    
a. the importance of research in advancing the counseling profession, including how to critique research to inform counseling practice

 

COUN 511 – Students read about research linked to each theory presented in the textbook.  
b. identification of evidence-based counseling practices

 

COUN 511 – Students read about evidence-based counseling practices in every chapter of the textbook.  
d. development of outcome measures for counseling programs

 

COUN 511 – Students read about theory-based counseling outcome measures in every theories chapter.

 

 
e. evaluation of counseling interventions and programs

 

COUN 511 – Students read about theory-based counseling outcome measures in every theories chapter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy, Happy, Thanks

Turkeys in Yard

Yesterday several naïve turkeys gathered outside our front window, apparently oblivious to the upcoming holiday. My not having a turkey hunting license or a shotgun made them safer than they might have been otherwise. Today, along with a thin blanket of new snow, I’m wishing them a happy day.

Having started reading “There, there” by Tommy Orange has added complexity to my urges to offer the traditional American Happy Thanksgiving greeting. I’m just speaking for myself here. These are personal reflections, not political reflections. As the late William Glasser (1998) liked to say (paraphrasing here), trouble tends to start when people discover, not only what’s right for them, but also what’s right for others. To honor Glasser (and avoid trouble), I feel compelled to write: I recognize that my own personal reflections may or may not be relevant or meaningful to you, and that you should celebrate as you like.

Here are some words (among many) from the prologue to There, there, that complexify my Thanksgiving Day greetings:

“In 1621, colonists invited Massasoit, the chief of the Wampanoags, to a feast after a recent land deal. Massasoit came with ninety of his men. That meal is why we still eat a meal together in November. . . . But that one wasn’t a thanksgiving meal. It was a land-deal meal. Two years later there was another, similar meal meant to symbolize eternal friendship. Two hundred Indians dropped dead that night from an unknown poison.”

As a nation, we’ve not been good to Native or Indigenous peoples. That’s obvious, even based on most (rather whitewashed) history books. Our historic oppression of Indian people has been horrific. That’s a fact I find important to acknowledge. I’m an Italian-Austrian-French-English Jewish-Catholic mostly white male. It’s doubtful than many or any of my ethnic/racial peoples were particularly good to the Indigenous Americans. I feel sad for that.

But somewhere in my brain I hold onto the idea that maybe Thanksgiving can still be meaningful. Giving thanks, showing gratitude, and being generous are behaviors that improve communities and enhance physical and emotional health. All the happiness researchers repeatedly say that we should be repeatedly grateful, and that expressing gratitude offers bidirectional short- and long-term benefits. Both the giver and the receiver of gratitude are on the receiving end of increased health and wellness.

For today, I offer gratitude to my Native American and American Indian friends and students and brothers and sisters. I’m grateful to have learned from you and to have you in my life. Although I cannot fix past wrongs, today and in the future I can recognize your value, contribute to your causes, appreciate your culture, and be grateful for what you bring to the world. For many reasons, we now find ourselves in this together. I hope to be gracious and helpful as we live together in peace and equity. There will be bumps in the road; my hope is that we can smooth the bumps together. Just because the narrative around that first Thanksgiving was fictional, doesn’t mean we can’t build a future that includes coming together and sharing our lives in important and meaningful ways. It’s possible that I and many of my ethnic/racial peoples can be particularly good to the Indigenous Americans in the future. I feel happy for that hope.

Happy, happy, thanks to everyone.

Resources: Huffpost published a nice article on six things non-native allies can do for Thanksgiving.    https://www.huffpost.com/entry/ally-to-native-americans-on-thanksgiving_l_5ddc4237e4b00149f7223b30?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuaHVmZnBvc3QuY29tLw&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAAjPZEONsO8kbskt8Qfrnm4VaVkk0kZo1hmmiYv9dANmXAL4aKKHsfcH-Oj5-HBI917vRV6-BSQGvu4G0fWSxIYxK1_hdfDrPqlEXqKCdjh9CysuPHTMZbjJAolZJ0JjfwDpdocP_pYGzuKejzZjKVZwbROe-8HyHfA7-itWaale

In today’s Missoulian there’s an article on the Happiness class Rita and I are developing and that I’ll be teaching this Spring semester at the University of Montana: https://missoulian.com/news/local/happiness-there-s-a-university-of-montana-class-for-that/article_7789f0fd-cb94-505d-a708-ab4bc214a4ff.html