What is Counselling?

Nowadays, there is a lot of discussion about the importance of counseling and people are thinking about consulting a counselor. It is possible that one day you feel really low and want to speak to someone as soon as possible. The very next day you feel OK and the thought of consulting a counsellor goes away. But the issues that made you feel low are still there and you inevitably feel worse again in a few days’ time.
What stopped you from making an appointment? Apprehension about seeing a counsellor for the first time is common. It can also be hard for anybody to accept that might need help. Asking for help can make the problem seem more real and it is not easy to pretend it’s all OK. People who resolve this dilemma and seek counseling find it extremely helpful and effective and that it is the right thing for them. Attending a counseling session helps you find out more about how counseling works and the counselor can help you decide if counseling would be useful for your particular situation.

Counselling is:

  • The process that occurs when a client and counsellor set aside time to explore difficulties which may include the stressful or emotional feelings of the client.
  • The act of helping the client to see things more clearly, possibly from a different view-point. This can enable the client to focus on feelings, experiences or behaviour, with a goal of facilitating positive change.
  • A relationship of trust. Confidentiality is paramount to successful counselling. Professional counsellors will usually explain their policy on confidentiality. They may, however, be required by law to disclose information if they believe that there is a risk to life.

Counselling is not:

  • Giving advice.
  • Being judgemental.
  • Attempting to sort out the problems of the client.
  • Expecting or encouraging a client to behave as the counsellor would behave if confronted with a similar problem in their own life.
  • Getting emotionally involved with the client.
  • Looking at a client’s problems from your own perspective, based on your own value system.

The Role of the Counsellor

First and foremost, counsellors need to be aware that no two people are alike.

No two people understand the same language in the same way; their understanding will always be linked to their personal experience of the world. The role of the counsellor, therefore, is to help the client to develop their own understanding of their situation.

They will enable the client to explore aspects of their life and feelings, by talking openly and freely. Talking like this is rarely possible with family or friends, who are likely to be emotionally involved and have opinions and biases that may affect the discussion. Talking to a counsellor gives clients the opportunity to express difficult feelings such as anger, resentment, guilt and fear in a confidential environment.

The counsellor may encourage the client to examine parts of their lives that they may have found difficult or impossible to face before. There may be some exploration of early childhood experiences to throw some light on why an individual reacts or responds in certain ways in given situations. This is often followed by considering ways in which the client may change such behaviours.

Good counselling should reduce the client’s confusion, allowing them to make effective decisions leading to positive changes in their attitude and/or behaviour. The ultimate aim of counselling is to enable the client to make their own choices, reach their own decisions and act upon them.

You Should Take Counselling When You Feel

  • Uncontrollable sadness, anger or hopelessness.
  • Eating or sleeping more or less than usual
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Doubts about whether life is worth living, thoughts of death and suicide
  • Talking to friends, exercise, self-help techniques do not make a difference
  • Friend or family tired of listening to you and start to avoid you
  • Friends or family members are tired of listening to you and they start moving away from you
  • Overuse or abuse of something (alcohol, tobacco, drugs, watching pornography) or someone (friends or family members)
  • People have noticed changes in you and suggest that you need help
  • Feeling disconnected from the job, changes in concentration and attention, negative feedback from significant others
  • Relationships getting strained and having trouble communicating feelings
  • Not enjoying things once loved, sudden loss of interest in doing things and become indifferent
  • Need help to navigate big changes in life (breakups, job changes, deaths in the family, etc)
  • Resorting to unhealthy behavior on social media (too many selfies, seeking help).
  • Getting sick though doctors say you are fine
  • Prefer isolation and make an effort to ensure you are alone and disconnected.