In most cases, professionals misunderstand disability in their various fields of specialization. This is just the same way the society misunderstands disability. It is a common occurrence that people without disability perceive disability as a negative event and as something undesired, although this is not necessarily the experience or belief of many persons with a disability. There are fields of humanities that take the human in any human being as their first priority when it comes to studying human experiences, relationships and behaviors. Counseling psychologists are a group of professionals who, in any relationship with their clients, look at the person and not the condition at the first instance. Counselors that work with persons with disabilities and their families have a good understanding of the experience and process of disability.
As much there is no specific program that offers extensive training in this area, the trainers and trainees in counseling psychology give attention, in the process of studying, to special interest groups and persons with disabilities fall under such clientele base. The different authors and theorists of psychology and counseling provide pertinent and relevant information to help therapists approach clients with disabilities in ways that make and enable them to respond successfully and creatively to their disabilities and their psycho-social challenges.
The attitudes that lead the society and some sections of professionals to perceive disability as a negative experience and as something undesired are not necessarily the same as those held by individuals with disabilities and their families as well as trained counseling psychologists. In a major way, it is always the negative aspects of having and living with a disability that continues to be a primary focus and feature for people who do not understand disability. The extensive training given to counseling psychologists in the area of psycho-education gives the counseling psychologists a great understanding and ability to train the society on the harm caused by the negative attitudes, beliefs, and associations extended to persons with disabilities and their families. When we look at people with disabilities who come to us for help as diseased, broken, and in need of fixing without an understanding of their experiences, then this is totally a distorted perspective. This in turn negatively impacts any helping relationship.
As opposed to this, counseling psychologists, through the training of dealing with special interest groups, sees the person in the person with a disability as a whole human who needs to be journeyed with to overcome the obstacles, change their life’s narrative and learn to cope with the daily challenges that come with having a disability. With a lot of information at their disposal, counseling psychologist strive to find the benefits of examining their own beliefs and expectations about disability, disability types, psycho-social challenges related to the disabilities in question, the impacts on the individuals with disabilities and anticipated outcomes when working with this population. The main areas that are talked about during the training sessions of counseling psychologist in relation to handling clients from special interest groups include but are not limited to;
1.Using proper language to describe the person and the disability
2.Identifying personal and societal barriers encountered by individuals with disabilities
3.Devising a theoretical framework from which to understand adjustment to disability
4.Learning counseling techniques to enhance therapeutic effectiveness and
5.Being mindful of general counseling tips when working with persons with disabilities.
Persons with disabilities therefore need to come out and seek help since we have trained professionals who are well equipped to listen to them and walk with them in a humanly way as they apply skills that are tailored for handling clients with disabilities.