PCN-515 Topic 3 Challenging Practice Exercise

PCN-515 Topic 3 Challenging Practice Exercise

PCN-515 Topic 3 Challenging Practice Exercise

PCN 515 Week 3 Discussion Recent

Week 3 DQ 1 You notice that a client has started to withdraw and engage in some “Yes, but…” behaviors. What are some strategies you could use to help reengage this client?

Week 3 DQ 2 Read and complete the “Challenging Practice Session.” What did you discover during the practice session? What did you learn about yourself as a new counselor to be?

PCN 515 Week 3 Challenging a Client (100% Score) Recent

Write a 750-1,000-word essay outlining at least four guidelines for effectively challenging a client. For each guideline, provide a case example illustrating the principle. Address the following in your paper:

How can counselors challenge a client without getting into a power struggle with a client, or provoking client defensiveness?
How can counselors help a client to identify unused resources and strengths?
How can counselors help a client to identify blind spots while continuing to provide empathy and support for the client?
How would counselors work with a client within an interdisciplinary treatment team?
How can a counselor act as a consultant when a practicing counselor asks for help to strengthen their challenging skills with clients?
For this part of the assignment, you may write in the first person. Reflect on your level of assertiveness. Do you feel you are assertive enough to challenge clients comfortably or do you feel you are too passive or aggressive? What might keep you from challenging a client?
Provide at least three scholarly references in your paper.

Prepare this assignment according to the guidelines found in the APA Style Guide, located in the Student Success Center. An abstract is not required.

This assignment uses a rubric. Please review the rubric prior to beginning the assignment to become familiar with the expectations for successful completion.

You are required to submit this assignment to Turnitin. Please refer to the directions in the Student Success Center.

This assignment meets the following CACREP Standards:

2.F.5.c. Theories, models, and strategies for understanding and practicing consultation.

2.F.5.g. Essential interviewing, counseling, and case conceptualization skills.

5.C.3.d. Strategies for interfacing with integrated behavioral health care professionals.

The counseling skill of challenging is difficult for a novice to master. A customer may feel misunderstood and insecure if the challenge is presented too soon, too hard, or too far in advance. This is another area where the counselor’s agenda might easily interfere with the therapeutic process. Counselors frequently get irritated with their clients’ rate of change. They fail to recognize that clients have worked hard to be where they are. You might be less critical of the ways in which clients are “stuck” by starting with the presumption that they are making the best possible use of the resources at their disposal. One of the observations discovered in motivational interviewing is that the denial and defensiveness of substance abuse clients was in large part a reaction to the confrontational style of substance abuse counselors. When clients feel judged and attacked, they deny and become defensive. What motivational interviewing offers is a way to challenge and confront in a gentle, nonattacking way that is congruent with the client’s own value system. Clients will choose to change when they are able to see that change will get them something they want. A motivational interviewing counselor has to be deeply empathic and really understand the client’s value system in order to help the client to choose change. PCN-515 Topic 3 Challenging Practice Exercise


As the textbook outlines, there are a number of times when a counselor may challenge a client:

  1. When there is a discrepancy between what a client says and what she/he does
  2. When there is a discrepancy between two things a client says
  3. When a client is engaging in self-destructive behavior
  4. When a client is caught in dysfunctional beliefs
  5. When a client is being too hard on his or her self
  6. When a client has distorted expectations of self, others, or the world
  7. When the client does not recognize his or her own strengths and resources
  8. When the client has significant blind spots

(Egan, 2014, pp. 162-176)

There is a special skill that can be useful for challenging what is happening in the process of the session. To give an example, imagine you are engaging in an open dialogue with a client, and, suddenly, the client withdraws. This technique is termed “calling the process.” It has two parts: an observation: “I notice that you became very quiet and seemed to shut down when we started talking about your family,” followed by a question: “What’s happening?” or “I’m wondering if this is kind of a touchy subject?” For this to be successful, the second part needs to be tentative or posed as a question, not a statement. For example, it would probably not be productive to say, “I notice you became really quiet when we started talking about your family; obviously you are defensive about your family.” The attitude that is sometimes useful in working with clients is “naïve curiosity.” “Help me to understand what’s so challenging about your current job.” “I’m curious what it means to you when you say, ‘I just don’t care what anyone thinks.’”

It is critical when you are challenging clients to watch their body language. A challenge that is too confronting or too early may lead to defensive behavior or a shutdown in communication. At that point, you may be able to recover the connection by “calling the process” and exploring what is happening between you and the client.


In this exercise you are going to challenge yourself. Think of a belief or a behavior that might interfere with your effectiveness as a counselor. To give an example, a student had a strong tendency to want to “fix” things.  The result of this message was that she tended to move too quickly to giving advice or trying to get the client to solve the problem. It was hard for her to be patient and develop empathy first.

Think of a belief or a behavior that could become a challenge for you as a counselor. What is that belief or behavior? How could it interfere with you as a counselor? What might you need to do to work with that challenge to become a more effective counselor?


Egan, G. (2014). The skilled helper: A problem management and opportunity development approach to helping. Belmont, CA: Brooks Cole.

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