Counselling is defined as the service of helping people to adjust to or deal with personal problems by enabling them to discover for themselves the solution to the problems while receiving attention from a counsellor. (Chambers Dictionary).
It is not possible or practicable to be sent for counselling. It has to be a voluntary process. Many people, when they first approach me, do so uncertain if this is a process by which they can be truly helped. The first words I often hear are, 'Youll think this is silly...', 'I don't really know why I'm here...' , 'I just
can't shift...' or 'I feel so guilty...'.
Counselling is frequently mentioned in the media, usually following a major disaster such as a rail crash or in relation to a celebrity with major personal issues. Because of this many people believe that counselling should only be sought to help deal with a dramatic situation. But this is not the case. Depression, bereavement, stress, relationships, anxieties or phobias, self image and many other cares and concerns anything which adversely affects quality of life are all issues often benefiting from counselling.
One aspect which cannot be stressed too strongly is that when a counsellor meets a client, it is in privacy and confidence. Confidentiality is fully discussed before embarking on the first session. Counsellors will not report back to other professionals, friends or family members.
Counselling is a process with a beginning, a middle and an end, where the counsellor facilitates an individual to consider the aspects of their life they wish to change.
The whole idea is to enable the client to explore a difficulty or distress which they may be experiencing, assisted by the counsellor whose main role is to facilitate the client to make his or her own decisions on how to proceed. It is not an environment where the counsellor will say what has to be done or even give advice. However, through this process the counsellor will endeavour to guide the client from feeling a victim of circumstances to feeling that they have more control over their life.
There are different models of counselling, differing routes or tools to enable the client to change. My practice is based on the Integrative model in which all methods are drawn upon as appropriate to each individual client - there is no 'one size fits all'. Everyone has the capacity to think. There is a commitment to change, to making decisions and taking personal responsibility for personal outcome.
Clarifying the problem and the desired change encourages the person to decide how they wish to be. Often unpacking one problem may reveal its connection to another. When people start the process of counselling they begin to experience the recurring patterns in their lives, to identify their negative feelings and how they play games and thereby limit themselves. A decision to make positive change is a further step. Someone may know what their goal is, but they have to decide to take positive action to achieve that goal.
The Counsellor offers support and facilitation on the basis that the client has decided what he or she feels yet this is something that may also change!
The basic steps of counselling involve people in:
gaining recognition for their skills and experience
being confronted from a caring position by the ways they used to prevent themselves and others re-experiencing in the present any relevant events from the past. This can help them to obtain emotional release from feelings or beliefs to which they may be clinging and which are stopping them from meeting their immediate needs.
Emphasis is given to feelings and thoughts as stimuli for action and change. Support, challenge and practice are essential to enable all these steps to be achieved.
Counselling may comprise a few sessions or it may take longer but it does not go on for ever. In the end, the client is helped to find the tools to enable them to think, feel and behave in the way they desire, empowered without continued counsellors support.