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EMOTIONS, BEHAVIOUR, COUNSELLING, PARENT TRAINING

Many people will, at some point in their lives, find themselves in the role of a counsellor without having a true understanding of the concept of counselling or what the role of the professional counsellor entails.

There is a big difference between a professional counsellor and a person who uses some counselling skills as part of their role, for example their role as a friend or colleague. A professional counsellor is a highly trained individual who is able to use a different range of counselling approaches with their clients.

This page defines and introduces the concept of counselling and the role of a counsellor. 'Counselling' can be a confusing term - it often has different meanings for different people.

Counselling is:
The process that occurs when a client and counsellor set aside time in order 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 to 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.
Judgemental.
Attempting to sort out the problems of the client.
Expecting or encouraging a client to behave in a way in which the counsellor may have behaved when 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.

Counselling is a helping approach that highlights the emotional and intellectual experience of a client, how a client is feeling and what they think about the problem they have sought help for. Psychotherapy, however, is based in the psychodynamic approach to counselling - it encourages the client to go back to their earlier experiences and explore how these experiences effect their current ‘problem’.

A psychotherapist, therefore, helps the client to become conscious of experiences which they were previously unaware of. Counsellors, however, are less likely to be concerned with the past experiences of the client and are generally trained in a humanistic approach, using techniques from client-centred therapy.

The Role of the Counsellor

The role of the counsellor is to enable the client to explore many aspects of their life and feelings, by talking openly and freely. Talking in such a way it is rarely possible with family or friends, who are likely to be emotionally involved and have opinions and biases that may be detrimental to the success of the counselling. It is important that the counsellor is not emotionally involved with the client and does not become so during counselling sessions. The counsellor neither judges, nor offers advice. The counsellor gives the client an 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 in order 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.

Effective counselling reduces confusion, allowing the client to make effective decisions leading to positive changes in their attitude and/or behaviour. Effective counselling is not advice-giving and is not acting on someone else's behalf (these are more the roles of a life coach). The ultimate aim of counselling is to enable the client to make their own choices, reach their own decisions and to act upon them accordingly