What is Counselling?
An Article About Counselling
What Is Counselling?
'Counselling' means different things to different people. To some it's about advice, and to others it's tea and sympathy. For others, counselling is a long-term process, and the difference between counselling and psychotherapy (indeed if there is one) is a hotly debated subject amongst professionals.
My interpretation of the meaning of counselling is about helping people who want to change some aspects of their thoughts, feelings or behaviour to enhance their life, or simply to explore and/or clarify their thoughts or feelings.
By counselling, I mean talking to a counsellor, i.e. someone who is properly trained and has regular professional supervision. Usually, you would have an appointment to see a counsellor for a specific length of time (usually fifty minutes or an hour) at a regular time every week. You have a weekly session for either a set period of time (often 6 to twelve weeks) or for as long as you and your counsellor agree.
Counselling is not about giving advice in the sense of ready-made solutions to your problems, e.g. "If I were you I'd... ", nor is it offering opinions about you, other people, or other people's actions, e.g. "Well I don't think he should have... "
No-one can be "sent" for counselling, and counselling can't be 'done to you'. A person makes a positive choice to see a counsellor and the process demands commitment in terms of time, hard work and finance.
In general, a counsellor will listen to you without butting-in or imposing their own values and beliefs on you. They will give you the space to explore your thoughts, feelings, or behaviour, whatever they are. People can find it helpful just to have their concerns taken seriously.
The counsellor may also employ a variety of techniques to help you understand your feelings. For instance, the counsellor may ask questions designed to reflect back to you your thought processes and to help you make sense of your feelings. The way we think has a great deal to do with how we feel and how we experience things. You might explore and implement changes in the way you do things, and that then can go on to enhance your life or your relationship.
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It's normal for people to struggle with significant issues from time to time. Issues can be triggered by a specific life event such as a relationship difficulty, job-loss, an illness or a bereavement. Alternatively, we may be struggling with ongoing issues such as low self-esteem, lack of confidence, anxiety or depression. For others there is no obvious specific problem, but their life lacks direction or purpose.
Here are few examples of reasons you might want to see a counsellor:
|Thoughts||"She/he won't listen"||"She/he isn't making any sense"||"Everyone's out to get me"||"If only they knew what I was really like, ..."|
|Feelings||Constant anger||Stressed out||Feeling blamed||Constant tiredness|
|Behaviour||Not getting your voice or opinion heard||Allowing yourself to be bullied||Shouting, slamming doors, throwing things||Shutting yourself away from other people|
|Explore/ Clarify||"I don't know what to do about my relationship"||Feeling confused about a situation or person||My life lacks direction||Personal worries|
When people are unhappy they often want someone to mull their thoughts and feelings over with. But in today's world a good listener is not always easy to find. Although friends and family can be supportive, we often feel we can't talk to them for a variety of reasons. We may not want to 'put upon' them, we may worry that what we say will be passed on, or we may feel that they are imposing their own solutions on us. They might even be part of the problem!
- You won't have to worry about upsetting them
- They aren't going to judge you
- They will make sure that you are safe by setting appropriate boundaries such as confidentiality, setting clear goals, sharing their decisions about the direction of the counselling
- They will not say what they think you want to hear
- You can make fundamental and far-reaching changes to your life
For further information see Choosing a Counsellor.
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