Advocacy and Mentoring toward a Developmental Framework

Article excerpt

The importance of embracing a developmental framework has been a driving force for many years for professionals who are active within the Association for Adult Development and Aging. A life span approach to counseling, helping, and supporting individuals and families is important to shape a clear and accurate conceptualization of issues presented in all counseling-related areas. Counseling in venues such as community agencies, schools, institutions of higher education, and private practice--providing service and consultation--entails complex skills sets coupled with a developmental approach that enables the professional to provide service using best practice interventions and strategies to particular constituents.

If the counselor educators among us believe that the aforementioned rationale is true, then what are some ways that can be used to instill an awareness of the life span developmental approach to our graduate programs and students in counseling professions? Mentoring students and new professionals can be an effective tool for us. We should advocate for a broader view of working with individuals and families, encompassing the stages of life development in concert with life experience; natural life transitions; and then profound and more difficult transitions concerning health, loss, or socioeconomic alterations as we age. The holistic view is one that has been considered for a long time to be a humanistic manifestation of what we believe about counseling toward life satisfaction. Incorporating that holistic view into the realm of the developmental approach seems to be a logical step toward working more effectively with adults of all ages, so that throughout the process of counseling and consulting, there is high regard for life stage experience, health and wellness issues, and quality of life possibilities as we age. We have used the concepts of "inclusion" and "infusion" on many occasions in our profession to create an atmosphere of acceptance and awareness of diversity.

To infuse the developmental framework with the holistic conceptualization of any counseling case, situation, or assignment is one way to begin our mentoring process. Students of counseling and supervisees who are beginning practice look to us as the experts--whether we believe that about ourselves or not; given that role, we can begin to influence the process of counseling today, a more developmental framework in all areas. If we advocate for the adult of all stages of the life span by developing skills and techniques geared to that population, our example will be one that can be followed, respected, and actually put to very good use by counseling professionals; additionally, we can advocate through our graduate programs for students to embrace the broader view when conceptualizing the individuals or families with whom they work. …