This qualitative study aimed to explore clients’ lived experiences of counseling engagement, which is regarded as the common factor contributing to successful counseling outcome. The study examined clients’ counseling engagement in Thailand where counseling is not commonly known while seeking mental help tends to be stigmatized. It also attended to how sociocultural aspects influence clients’ counseling engagement. Participants were six clients who had completed face-to-face individual counseling and had changed positively as the result. Data were collected via semi-structured in-depth interviews and were analyzed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). The study resulted in the three main themes which were 1) Attending and Disclosing, consisting of Perceived Benefits of Counseling, Readiness to Disclose and Listen, Positive Client Image, and Confidentiality 2) Working Together, consisting of Problem and Solution Exploration, Acceptance, Equality, and Boundary 3) Working By Oneself, consisting of Responsibility for Change, Contemplation, Behavior Change, and Counseling Evaluation. The findings revealed that with the determination to change, despite some uncertainties, clients willingly and actively engaged in the counseling tasks and in applying what they had learned from counseling in real life. Sociocultural aspects, such as language, the social image, and the relational power structure shaped the way clients perceived and engaged in the counseling process. Implications for counseling practice and future research include sensitivity to context. For example, counselors may openly discuss with their clients how their relationships may be affected by the social norms in their societies, while researchers may pursue studies on clients’ counseling engagement in various sociocultural contexts.
Natawan Paoin, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand
Panita Suavansri, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand
Nattasuda Taephant, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand
Stream: Mental Health
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