Discuss a challenging case, the approach you took, and the outcome. What would you do again? What would you do differently?
Human beings are complex, and we all experience the world from a unique perspective. As a Mental Health Counselor, you will have clients with varying mental and emotional issues. You must be prepared to take the approach that you feel is most beneficial for your client.
Although your client may make significant progress, there will often be approaches that you wish you took, in retrospect. Discuss how you have helped a particularly challenging client to feel empowered or to make a critical change.
Since this question is asking you to tell a story around a challenging case, be ready to give a story-based example using the STAR framework. Star is an acronym for Situation, Task, Action, Result. This method will allow you to organize a clear and engaging response.
"Most of my clients are facing trauma, whether in the past or the present. Although trauma is always disturbing to face, I find the most challenging cases to be those where the system has failed kids or youth, and they have faced abuse and neglect. (Situation) I had a client a few years ago who was 19 years old and had been in and out of juvenile detention for most of his teen years. He was now facing assault charges, and his probation officer let me know that he may now face trial as an adult. (Task) Part of this clients' rehabilitation plan was to attend state-manded therapy, and I was his appointed counselor. (Action) After our first session, I came to understand that he was a victim of severe bullying and emotional abuse. He had grown up in foster care, where he felt alone and faced violent situations most of his life. His defense mechanism was to hurt people before they hurt him. Through narrative therapy, I helped this client to change the stories he told himself about his current circumstance and who he was as he entered adulthood. At first, it was a challenge to connect with him. However, I persevered while letting him know that I was there to help him create a new identity for himself. (Result) Over three months, while he was awaiting his court date, we made incredible progress. His self-esteem lifted, and he was starting to tell himself new stories surrounding his identity the life that he wanted to create for himself. As a result of the progress he made in therapy, he was tried as a minor when his court date came. We continued to work together during his year of incarceration. Now, three years later, he still comes to me every month. If I could change anything about my approach, I would have given him more creative tools and asked him to explore other talents as I now know how creative this individual is! Regardless, I feel that my approach was what he needed to realize his worth and feel motivated to change his life."
"(Situation & Task) Right after graduating with my degree in counseling, I spent six months shadowing a Mental Health Counselor certified in Hypnotherapy. This counselor's practice focused on helping clients with PTSD. One client, in particular, was not showing signs of improvement after three months of treatment. (Action) After the three months passed, I helped the counselor to reassess the treatment goals and the therapeutic approach. Through a collaborative discussion, we decided that we hadn't spent enough time helping the client understand himself-- for instance, what were his primary triggers and stressors? We spent additional time guiding the client to improve his self-awareness through journaling and hypnotherapy. Once he could better recognize his stressors, he could begin retaking control of his life. (Result) This new progress helped us clarify the client's long-term treatment plan because we could better define what he wanted to achieve. Through this experience, I gained confidence in my ability to reach challenging clients. Moving forward, I want my clients to be a larger part of their treatment plan and an active and accountable participant when it comes to their progress."