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February 20, 2018

Pay Attention

By Dr. Richard Boyum

One of the goals of counselors is to teach clients at any age to pay attention. We need to teach clients to pay attention to what is going on inside of them and around them. This includes both feelings and thoughts. In addition, we need to teach clients to pay attention to the wide variety of things that are going on around them in the outside world. The objective here often is to teach clients the wide variety ofperceptions and points of view that can be experienced by others. Counselors as part of homework assignments and/or in developmental guidance classes can provide a series of experiences that teach children and adolescents at any age attending behaviors. We do this all the time by performing exercises with basic feelings such as sad, mad, glad, and afraid. In other words, by someone being in touch with what makes them sad, what makes them glad, what makes them mad, or what makes them afraid at any given time.

In addition, we can ask clients to focus on certain experiences in their external environment and ask them to report back to us. By using their senses we can get clients to focus on a variety of awarenesses. For example, we can ask an individual to focus and report only sounds they hear. We can ask clients to respond to touch. We can ask them to respond to things they see. Particularly with visual experiences, we can ask clients to learn to discriminate. Having younger individuals look for shapes, sizes and colors, can help people be selective in developing understanding and insights that help individuals see the complexities of the world around them. By teaching students/clients to pay attention early on, we can teach them better problem-solving skills as they deal with the complex personal and people issues of their lives.