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I had the pleasure of experiencing a unique counseling practicum. The practicum experience I achieved in my placement has been rewarding, challenging and educational. Counseling internship enabled me to develop unique and essential skills that have assisted me in the process of becoming a professional counselor. My practicum experience was an encounter with a couple in their mid-30s that had been dating for approximately 4 years. In this report, the names of the client counseled during the practicum will be withheld for privacy purposes. All names referred in this report will be fictions. John and Sasha are the couple that I counseled during my practicum. Sasha was a divorced lady with three children. Her eldest son likes John while the other children want the re-union of their mother with biological father. On the other hand, John has never been married before, but he is striving to influence the young children’s attitude towards him.

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Time and Location of the Session

The counseling was conducted on the basis of clients’ informed consent that I obtained in advance. This was in accordance with the need to respect the clients’ confidentiality, autonomy and privacy. Informed consent was obtained prior to disclosure; since not having the consent would have resulted to a counseling malpractice. The counseling was successful since the couple attended the appointments as was agreed and it took approximately 80 minutes of their personal time. While the chosen place has to bring a conductive and serene environment in order to be effective, I decided to make an appointment for the session in the restaurant. Before the meeting with the couple, I communicated my intentions and the rationale in advance before scheduling this session.

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Couples Background Information

My session started at around 8.00 a.m. in the morning with a small request for Sasha and John to complete a short questionnaire in order to obtain pertinent information about their backgrounds. The questionnaire contained questions about their cultural and religious beliefs, relationship history, personal values, family, sex and money. The couple was remarkably cooperative; it helped me to quickly analyze their answers and get full information about their background.

Sasha’s Report

Sasha is a Caucasian female; she indicated that she was engaged. Sasha has been dating John for around 4 year. This relationships for her has been the first long term commitment after divorce. She has three children. Her highest level of education is a Bachelor’s Degree, and she is currently working. Sasha reports that her household income is in between $20,000- $35,000.

Sasha’s Relationship Satisfaction Rating

The list below reflects Sasha’s satisfaction with various broad areas that are essential in most relationships. The most satisfied areas are on the top of the list, while the areas she is least satisfied with are on the bottom:

1. Caring and affection: very satisfied;

2. Communication: fairly satisfied;

3. Sex: fairly satisfied;

4. Finances: a little satisfied;

5. Extended family: neutral;

6. Time together: fairly unsatisfied;

7. Overall satisfaction: very satisfied;

8. Sasha thinks John is: very satisfied.

Sasha’s Personality Feedback

This section is based on Sasha’s responses to questions about her as an individual.

Introversion vs. Extraversion

From the interview, it was understandable that Sasha is more of an extravert type of person. Sasha’s extraversion characteristic can be rated as an average one. She presented herself as a social person, which reflects that she probably balances her solitary activities with social contact. Her style of expression was quite enthusiastic and playful. In addition, she prefers living in a lively social environment.

Less Stressed vs. More Stressed

During the conversation, Sasha seemed to be more stressed and prone; sometimes even upset. This reflected normal reactions to her personal current relationship circumstances. Alternatively, this could be her usual lifestyle. This characteristic justified the need for her to explore and discuss problems with a counselor. Sasha may occasionally find it difficult, in comparison to the most of people, to build a sense of trust in others. Though, most people experience a sense of self-doubt and worry, she actually seems to worry more about other people. Therefore, Sasha may be sensitive to criticism and may fear others’ disapproval. It was also evident that Sasha would sometimes be impatient with others; especially, during frustrating circumstances.

Receptive vs. Tough-Minded

Sasha had an average tendency to be a tough- minded person. She strives to balance toughness and sympathy, and receptivity with resoluteness. In some cases, she adheres to the current way of thoughts; although, she is usually open to new experiences and approaches. Most of her decisions were based on her own subjective feeling rather than on a more objective perspective. In some situations, Sasha tended to be occupied with her own thoughts and ideas until she is distracted. However, she is more orientated to other people.

Accommodative vs. Independent

Sasha’s lifestyle is inherently balanced between the need to accommodate others’ wishes and the willingness to exert her control over the surrounded environment. She showed some degree of vigilance and worry of other people’s environment. She is also alert about an aspect that enables her controlling other people in her life.

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John’ Report

John is a Caucasian male who is engaged with Sasha during the period of the last 4 years. John has never been married before and this is his first long term commitment. His highest level of education is a Bachelor’s Degree and he is working on a full-time basis with a household income of approximately $45,000- $55,000.

John Relationship Satisfaction Rating

The list below reflects John’s satisfaction with various broad areas that are essential in most relationships. The area in which he is more satisfied is on the top of the list, while the area he is least satisfied is on the bottom.

1. Time together: very satisfied;

2. Children: fairly satisfied;

3. Sex: fairly satisfied;

4. Finances: a little satisfied;

5. Extended family: a little satisfied;

6. Communication: fairly unsatisfied;

7. Overall satisfaction: very satisfied;

8. John thinks Sasha is: fairly satisfied.

John Personality Feedback

The section is based on the John’ response to questions about himself as an individual.

Introversion vs. Extraversion

As John’ personality type is extravert, he portrays strong preferences for social interaction; hence, he probably enjoys much when communicating with others. Since his attention is usually directed towards other people, he may essentially feel uncomfortable when being alone. John is exceptionally warm and responsive; he enjoys a close relationship with friends and people around him. This makes him to be socially bold. When John decides to reveal his personal affairs to others, he usually tends to be forthright and genuine. John is a group-oriented person.

Less Stressed vs. More Stressed

John presented himself as a less stressed person in comparison to other people. He has a tendency of accepting and trusting others’ ideas and motives. He is usually less concerned on whether other people might have harmful intentions against him. During the counseling session, he was somehow distressed. In some situations when frustrating circumstances might appear, probably John will be impatient with others.

Receptive vs. Tough-Minded

John has an average tendency of being tough-minded. He usually tends to balance sympathy with toughness and receptivity with resoluteness. Sometimes, he adheres to the current way of thinking and he is much open to new experiences and approaches. In addition, he is strong interpersonal relationship kind of person. This aspect makes him do others feel open to interact with him.

Accommodating vs. Independent

John’ lifestyle is restrained between the need to control his environment and the willingness to accommodate the ones in his life. He is venturesome, bold and self-expressive, especially to others. However, John is not always persuasive or forceful. He has a tendency of trusting others rather than questioning their motives. He is also traditional with a lot of respect to the established conventions. He usually believes in regular conventions, but not in alternatives or changes.

Summary of the Session, Couple Dynamics and Interactions During the Session

Together with the couple, we discussed a number of issues that were affecting presently and those that were likely to affect their union or marriage in the future. We discussed their past life on issues like sexuality, family, and their values for money and cultural background. I had structured a questionnaire and gave it to the couple before it came for the counseling session. Going with what they had filled, we spoke at length on these issues. I also warn the couple that I will have a talk with each of them separately in order to make them feel free with me. This also gave each spouse the opportunity to speak openly about their concerns and feelings. It also gave me a chance to address issues with this couple privately. Such an issue was the couple’s sexual purity.

Cultural and religious backgrounds were some of the issues we discussed. Both couples are Christians. I explored couple’s personal histories and family ties in order to identify whether their cultural backgrounds would affect their marriage negatively.

John’ cultural background is that of Caucasian type. According to John, the cultural background should consist of a strong family with elements of a strict discipline. What is more, growing up in such a family may set specific prerogatives within social life. However, this background setting can also make it hard for someone to attend any social gathering. From John’ childhood experience, these views made him unsocial and, to some extent, made it impossible for him to interact with the opposite sex. He always put his office work first and little time for his own. Despite the negative effect that John’ cultural background has had on his social life, the background has made him being determined and responsible in life. I advised John that he should not let his cultural beliefs take down his first marriage engagement. I told him that being a husband means taking care of agreed financial obligation. I told him that he had to take care and responsibility not only of Sasha’s feelings, but also of her three kids.

Sasha’s cultural background is also a Caucasian. To me, this seemed to be a perfect chance for a successful marriage between John and Sasha. She has learnt from her cultural beliefs that women should not rely on their husbands for everything. According to Sasha, this inspired her leave her previous abusive marriage. Her Caucasian culture has formed a strong foundation in her life and made a moral support system for her that has roots in this cultural background.

One of the significant parts and dominant issues we have discussed during the session was Sasha’s three kids. As it was mentioned before, Sasha’s oldest son likes John, while the younger kids feel opposite and believe that their mom should get back to their biological father. I asked Sasha about her divorce; she told me that her former husband became unreasonable and a drunkard. He never had time for his family. He would spend all his money for drinks and his friends at a local bar. After her divorce, Sasha told me that her oldest son was happy. He has never been close to his dad and during the mutual life with the entire family he developed some hatred for him. As for the two young kids, they were highly affected by the divorce. They miss their biological father a lot. They always tell their mother that they want to go back to their dad. I told the couple that it needed to maintain boundaries around the parenthood and partners’ roles as adults. I told John that he has to be responsibility for Sasha’s two younger kids and it is really essential to make them feel trust. I told him that he was supposed to be kind and not show any harshness to the kids. With the help of Sasha, I advised him to research about Sasha’s former husband. He has to learn why these young kids loved their dad so much. He was supposed to try and do what their biological father did.

The other theme we discussed during the session was the couple’s sexual life. This couple did not seem to have any problems with their sexual life. They only told me that they were not willing to have more children. Therefore, I told them to see a gynecologist or their family doctor in order to get the best family planning method.

John and Sasha did not have a lot of couple dynamics. They seem to be reasonable and getting along well. However, Sasha complained that sometimes John is harsh when it comes to money matters. Sasha is fond of impulse buying. From time to time, this leads to argument conflict in which John accuses Sasha of having reasonable and needed spending. Another dynamic affecting this couple is that John does not like handling minor repairs around the house and he will not change his attitude towards this issue. Sasha complains that she has to use special paid services, for example on railing.

Assignment to the Couple

I emphasized the importance of assignments to the couple during counseling. I gave the couple an assignment so as to learn more about them. To administer this assignment, I developed a questionnaire and gave it to the couple. I asked the couple to fill in the questionnaires separately. In the questionnaire, the couple was supposed to fill in details about their relationship history, sex and family issues, cultural backgrounds and values they have towards money. Additionally, I assigned the PAIR 2 Test to the couple as their homework. I explained to the couple that PAIR 2 Test is a beneficial tool that measures the dynamics concerning two people. The PAIR 2Test that I gave the couple was meant to identify whether the couple is struggling to recognize each other, or they are just seeking a relational enrichment. I presented it to the couple in a manner that was supposed to uncover some issues. The main reason of giving the PAIR 2 Test to a couple was to figure out the real relations between the partners: husband and wife, boyfriend and girlfriend, equal or unequal partners, and responsible or irresponsible couple.

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My Thoughts and Reactions

I know that being a counselor to someone does not only mean listening to the person’s problems, but also to encourage this person to take an active role in his or her life. My objective is to enable the couple to realize positive results and outcomes. Analyzing the interviewed couple, my thoughts were that there are no significant or small issues in their common-law marriage. At certain times, I felt like I was not offering the best counsel because I have never been married. However, I was determined to give the best counsel to this couple. What most couples consider as small and insignificant issues, it has a potential to bring their marriage or engagement down. I believe that this is the reason of why marriages are failing at an alarming rate.

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