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February 23, 2017

Counselors As Warm-Blooded Chameleons

By Dr. Richard Boyum

As a counselor, have you ever thought of yourself as a warm-blooded chameleon? One of the things that makes counselors effective is their ability to identify with those they serve. How is it that a 6-year-old can feel so comfortable with a 50-year-old counselor? The same can be said for the middle school or high school student, and even someone from a radically different culture experience than our own. Good counselors truly are warm-blooded chameleons.

By using their senses, they learn to adapt themselves readily to the emotional, intellectual, and cultural styles of their clients. Counselors continue to maintain their basic identity as thoughtful people with a perspective that has something to offer the client. In other words, our species remains the same and we do not become what the client is, we just shift our colors to match their style. This makes what we have to offer much more user-friendly.

Think of how your linguistic pattern, your body posturing and your utilization of specific behaviors enhances your effectiveness. Essentially, as counselors when we experience these phenomenon, we are blending in, much as a chameleon does to accomplish its goal. The good news is that we are warm-blooded rather than cold-blooded. It is the very nature of the warmth that keeps the clients friendly. Even with the skills that we utilize that allow us to shift our colors and to blend with a client, we sometimes forget as counselors how remarkable and unique that skill is in a world where so many human beings cannot identify with anyone different than themselves.