There comes a time in life when an individual feels directionless or needs some kind of guidance to make decisions. This is where a counselor comes in. A professional counselor is an individual who works with the client in order to resolve various issues including beliefs, relationship issues, problematic behaviors, feelings and other such issues. For most people, the answer to what is counselling means talking to someone, sitting comfortably on a couch, trying to find solutions to their problems.
This is how Hollywood has always visualized counselling but there is a lot more to counselling than simply giving advice or opinion based on the discussion. A professional counselor is not just limited to giving advice but a professional counselor acts as a guide and tries to help clients resolve their issues bothering them in an informal and comfortable environment. The clients are encouraged to express their emotions and feelings freely to someone who listens to them. Here is a quick guide on everything related to what is counselling.
What Is Counselling
In simple terms, professional counselling is defined as the process where the counselor and the client sit together in order to explore the difficulties faced by the client. The counselor helps the client see things from a different viewpoint and enables them to focus on their behavior, experiences and feelings in order to facilitate positive change. It’s a relationship of trust and confidentiality is essential to a successful outcome.
Keep in mind that counselling is not just limited to giving advice or an attempt to sort out the issues faced by the client. It does not involve encouraging wayward behavior or providing solutions to a client based on counselor’s own value system. It has a much deeper meaning and successful counselors work with their clients in order to help them see things clearly. (source)
Types of Counselling
There are many different types of counselling including individual counselling, couples counselling, group counselling and family counselling among others. Also, counselling has a variety of specialties such as addiction counselling, child counselling, military counselling, debt counselling and others.
Individual counselling is focused on providing an opportunity to individuals to get the required support and experience during some challenging times in life. This type of counselling is focused on helping an individual deal with a variety of personal topics such as relationship challenges, substance abuse, depression, anxiety, anger, school difficulties, parenting problems, career changes and other such things.
Couples counselling is focused on helping a couple resolve their conflicts and heal their wounds. Every relationship has its own ups and downs and sometimes, the strains in relationship may lead to aggressive behavior. Couples counselling is focused on helping couples re-establish their common goals and set realistic expectations. In simple terms, it is designed to get a couple out of the stagnation.
There is also family counselling. It is often sought due to stresses brought upon by a particular event that affects family structure, communication or family closeness. In many cases, family counselling is focused on parenting, dealing with a major move, loss of family members, sibling conflict or parenting issues among other things.
Group counselling, as the name suggests, is a form of counselling to help people realize that they are not the only one facing this particular type of life challenge. This type of counselling involves a group of peers facing similar challenges and group counselling helps them in increasing their understanding of their life struggles as well as various possible solutions. Usually, group counselling involves up to 8 participants with one or two leaders and it revolves around a common topic such as divorce, self-esteem, anger management, domestic violence, trauma, substance abuse, recovery from abuse and other such issues.
Role of a Counselor
A well trained and successful counselor understands that everyone is different and they will experience the world in a completely different manner. A good counselor will never try to fit clients into a particular category and tell them how they should act in a particular situation. The main role of the counselor is to help their clients understand various aspects of their life and feelings by allowing them to talk openly and freely. Most individuals find it difficult to talk freely with their family or friends as they are likely to be more emotionally involved with them and their opinions may have biases detrimental to the counselling success.
A good counselor will never get emotionally involved with their client. It is not the job of the counselor to offer advice or to judge their client. The counselor is there to provide an opportunity to their client to express their feelings including guilt, resentment, fear and anger in a confidential and free environment. The counselor encourages the client to examine their life in order to understand what makes particular things difficult or impossible to face. This may include exploration of childhood experiences to understand why a particular individual react in a certain manner in a given situation. Such an exercise is often followed by discussing ways in which a client may change their behaviors.
The core goal of counselling is to help clients get rid of confusion which should allow their clients to make more effective decisions. One of the most common misconceptions about counselling is that it is about giving effective advice. A counselor is not there to give advice or act on their client’s behalf. Their ultimate goal is to enable the client face their life challenges and make their own choices and their own decisions.
Choosing a Counselor
There is no dearth of counselors. There are all kinds of counselors and it’s not difficult to find one but finding the right fit can be challenging. In fact, many people go through multiple counselors before they find the right fit. Here is a list of some of the important factors you need to consider in order to help you choose the right counselor for your particular needs. Keep in mind that there is nothing called the best counselor as every counselor is different and approaches things in a different manner. When you’re looking for a Counselor, your goal should be to find someone who feels comfortable and safe, and is a good listener.
It seems so obvious but more often than not, people choose a counselor without first trying to figure out whether they feel comfortable talking to them. It is essential for you to feel comfortable when you are talking to a counselor. The counselor should be easy to relate to and should not give the feeling of being emotionally removed or cold. The counselor shouldn’t be overly emotional or arrogant or display a know-it-all attitude. It’s true that most people are a bit anxious when they go to a counselor for the first time but a good counselor will always make you feel comfortable and welcome.
It is important for you to realize that you can always go to another counselor if you feel that current Counselor isn’t a good fit for you. You also need to realize that sometimes there may be an unresolved issue that may prevent you from getting the required counselling and you may end up rejecting every counselor you see. If that is the case, you should think deeply about it and should stick to a counselor in order to ensure that there is no issue with you. In case you decide that you haven’t been able to find the right fit, keep looking for the right fit.
A professional counselor will always approach a client in a compassionate and optimistic manner. They should not make a client feel deficient. If a counselor judges you or tries to show you the world through their own eyes, they are not the right fit for you. They should be welcoming and should have an optimistic approach in order to help you.
Experienced counselors will always talk to you about how they will approach the issue and how they will help you. In simple terms, they should give you a basic roadmap.
A counselor is also a human being and human beings make mistakes. Experienced counselors understand the importance of receiving necessary feedback and admitting their mistakes. They are always open to feedback and quick to learn things that may have hurt or offended you. Professional therapists always keep their feelings in check and are open towards admitting their own mistakes. If a counselor does not listen to you or admits to his/her mistakes, they are not the right fit for you.
Teaches You to Fish
The biggest difference between a good counselor and an average counselor is that a good counselor will always teach you to fish and will never try to give you solutions to your problems. The goal of effective therapy is to help you solve your own problems. Good therapists do not provide solutions to your problems and good counselors do not try to soothe your feelings. Their goal is always to help you understand and soothe your own feelings.
It is important for you to realize that if a Counselor tries to help you by providing answers to your problems or by providing emotional support without trying to let you find your own solutions, you will most likely become dependent on the counselor and that is not the goal of counselling.
A good counselor will never give you any unconditional guarantee. They will give you hope but an absolute guarantee is the path to failure. Healing is only possible when you are willing to change and put in the required effort in order to heal your wounds. In many cases, changes take years to happen and therefore, good counselors cannot guarantee a particular timeline for healing. Also, everybody is different and is at different stage of growth. In simple terms, the success of therapy depends on a variety of factors and a good counselor can never properly assess the time it may take a client to heal properly. Therefore, stay away from a counselor who promises guaranteed outcomes in a guaranteed time frame. And members of the APS
Licensing and Training
Proper licensing and training means that the counselor has undergone the required training and testing to become a professional counselor. There is no dearth of unlicensed therapists who do excellent work but licensed counselors are not only required to adhere to a set of ethics but they also undergo extensive training in order to provide good counselling to their clients.
Overall, the goal of a good counselor is to help a client get a deeper understanding of their problems and solve their own problems. There is no dearth of good counselors but it is important that you keep the above mentioned tips in mind in order to find the right fit for your particular needs. Hopefully, this compact guide on what is counselling has everything you wanted to know about the topic.