There are several characteristics that we need to acknowledge in order to treat this client correctly; however, we will discuss two of them. First of all, we need to take into consideration his cultural background. He was raised in a very devout religious Asian family, strong to their values of dignity, respect, honor, and service. We need to take in consideration that this young man probably feels ashamed of what he is feeling and going through. In fact, we need to acknowledge that for him to come and seek help was probably a major challenge. Many Asian-Americans do not seek help for mental issues because of the negative stigma that surrounds it (Nishi, n.d.). We need to ensure that we understand that he will, for the most part, be silent. We, as counselors, will need to engage with him and ensure that we get him to open up to us by allowing him his space. We need to practice attentive silence.
In addition to the stigma, another reason to consider the cultural characteristic, is that in the Asian culture, family means everything and the bond is very strong. Family means a protection against the hardships of life (Carteret, n.d.). He has lost that protection and now is afraid of also losing his wife and son. This is extremely devastating for him. Lastly, we need to take in consideration his culture to understand why he is so devastated in showing vulnerability. In the Asian culture, they are unwilling to completely acknowledge emotions of grief or pain because of their strong family culture (Carteret, n.d.). In fact, they need to show self-control and strength to take on any crisis that comes their way (Carteret, n.d.). This young client is showing his vulnerability to us by coming here and seeking help. We need to be aware of the difficulty that he might have to express his feelings and emotions.
Second characteristic is his age. This client is a 21-year old young man. As counselors, it is important to be aware of all that a client has suffered and the age of that client. For a person that is only 21-years of age, he has been through a lot of traumas. He is also a veteran that has been in war and has seen death around him. In addition, he has been discharged, even though he might feel guilty because of his strong sense of serving. He has no other knowledge in life than that of a soldier. For any veteran that has been actively engaged in deployments to combat zones, life can be very hard when coming back and facing the reality of being back home. However, for a young person that has not known anything but what he was raised with and the military, to come home to face the traumas by himself at 21-years old has to be extremely difficult. We need to be very empathetic.
Another reason why we need to pay attention to his age is that in order to diagnose a mental illness we need to be aware of the age onset” (Colorado Technical University (CTU), 2018). Age is a critical issue when it comes to diagnosing and treating mental illnesses (CTU, 2018). He is hearing voices, and as a young adult, it could indicate that he is having a psychotic breakdown (CTU, 2018). However, we also need to take into consideration each individual’s situation separately. He definitely is presenting signs of PTSD and has anxiety issues. Even though age is an important factor, we need to understand how it impacts each client individually and how we approach his PTSD at this early age (CTU, 2018).
In conclusion, in order to treat a client correctly, a counselor needs to take into consideration the client’s personal characteristics. When we, as counselors, can allow these to work for us, we will be able to better understand, connect, and empathize with our clients.
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