Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

From Good to Great: Examining Exemplary Counselor Development

Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

From Good to Great: Examining Exemplary Counselor Development

Article excerpt

   Your words
      splash heavily upon my mind
   Like early cold October rain
      falling on my roof
         at dusk. (Gladding, 1975a, p. 149)

In 1988, a book landed on my (first author) desk. It was a big book with a broad scope that was well written and thoroughly researched. Counseling: A Comprehensive Profession was authored by Samuel T. Gladding. I was appropriately impressed and immediately told my colleagues, "You need to read this book!" That name on a title page, then unknown to me, has become the legend that occupies a next-door office. The constants in my introduction to Sam and our everyday work together are his extraordinary ability to skillfully express himself in person and in prose; his leadership on multiple fronts in the counseling profession; and his balanced, but comprehensive, approach to life that make him a joy to work with while keeping him healthy and focused.

My observations of this man exist on a continuum of objectivity to indiscriminately subjective admiration and amazement. I talked to Sam about some of his life events and personal habits that I did not know, but I included a great deal from public record in order to report as factually as possible in this article. Although this material spotlights Sam, I want to emphasize that the outstanding qualities of his life that make him a national treasure, such as a strong professional identity, passion, and commitment, are attributes shared by other notable counselors. Our profession attracts splendid people. How counselors develop between their early years and their more mature years is a critical lesson for the profession, especially for those just entering it. Sam and his journey supply a prime example.

The goal in this article is to explain the sense of equilibrium that Sam has shown through his 40-plus years in the profession of counseling. The perspective and focus of this article differ from those of the other numerous personal interviews of prominent counselors that the Journal of Counseling & Development (JCD) has published since the 1970s. These informative dialogues with well-known counselors have historically expanded on the reflective thoughts of the highlighted professional to describe the unique ways those individuals have grown and achieved in the profession (Heppner, 1990), or they have concentrated on the zeitgeist of the time and person, such as Boring's (1961) seminal historical text. Sam's case autobiography of his counseling experiences, Becoming a Counselor: The Light, the Bright, and the Serious (Gladding, 2010) is presented in this same reflective modality. Likewise, case history books about counselors, such as Journeys to Professional Excellence (Conyne & Bemak, 2005) and Leaders and Legacies (West, Osborn, & Bubenzer, 2003), have primarily profiled prominent professionals through interviews.

In this article, I briefly trace Sam's development as a person and a counselor through the strategies he has used to excel professionally and establish personal equilibrium. Discussing Sam's life choices emphasizes the work of Salvatore and Sastre (2001). They explained that at every life stage a person has limited resources for meeting all the possible opportunities. Life satisfaction links to selecting goals and directing internal and external resources in order to function well in meeting those goals. Their Selection, Optimization, and Compensation model outlines an adaptation to life by integrating three processes:

* selection, or identifying the domains or activities that represent the greatest value to the person;

* optimization, or allocating and refining resources to reach higher levels of functioning in the selected activities; and

* compensation, or working with reduced resources and still identifying strategies to counteract the reduction and minimize the negative impact on functioning in the selected areas.

Throughout his incredibly productive career, Sam has not lost his perspective on the meaning and importance of life, especially as found in family, friends, and colleagues. …

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