Counselling is as old as any ailment involving personal problems. Who were counsellors traditionally? Clergymen, monks, imams, teachers, community groups and if you go back further… a shaman or tribe leader? You get the point.
Counselling is really old. But what about the modern iteration? The one in its psychotherapeutic form? That’s the one of discussion today.
When clients come to therapy, they expect a myriad of things, but one thing we and they all know, is that it will be something involving counselling. The modality itself can be broken in to other sub-forms with the main variant being ‘person-centred’. Person centred counselling (PCT) is all about having core conditions that underpin the therapy process: genuineness, empathic and non-judgemental. It’s a way of showing the client they are there to help them, regardless of their views, beliefs, gender, sexual-orientation etc. The counsellor’s goal therefore is to be an aid, an inspiring facilitator and to guide the client through the difficult experiences they have or have had.
Most healthcare providers have a background in or some experience of PCT. It’s a powerful skill to have and it builds rapport. It elicits openness between both parties and that’s been the attraction of it. The deeper you go, the more you learn the unique ways in which PCT has helped people all over the world.
There is and important issue in which one might think whether counselling is for them, especially when choosing a therapist. I mean, if self-study hasn’t quite satisfied you then usually people will search for therapists. Depending on the problem and the personality of the client, they might think counselling is the main way in which therapists work and they’d be right (to some extent). While most therapies involve some underpinning of counselling, there may be some who don’t use or require it. So what if you have raging anxiety and you don’t know how to control it? A counsellor doesn’t quite help in instructing you, or run through a problem-solving task. So what do you do? Well the obvious thing would be to find someone who’s suited to helping your problem. That is an article for another time.
For now, let’s see a few ways in which counselling is useful or otherwise:
1. Counselling is a great way to let things off your chest. It’s the ‘go-to’ place for many looking to speak to someone other than their cat (sarcasm alert).
2. Counsellors have great empathic skills that alone should warrant you a visit to these hidden gems. Most people do not have the patience or open-mindedness to deal with people’s hectic lives but counsellors approach it in a warm/open way so that clients are allowed to be the real agents of change.
3. Counsellors are everywhere. Go on to psychology today, they’re all there. Heck, even I use PCT along with CBT. It’s that powerful.
So what about the cons?
1. Counsellors shy from analysing symptoms. For them it’s a no go. That’s largely why they differ from other therapists. But it also means people who genuinely present with symptoms don’t get their problems fully addressed.
2. Counsellors also shy from a structured approach. Other therapies like CBT adhere to a good structure and if done right, keeps both client and therapist on the right tracks and limits passiveness.
3. Perhaps no after-session activity/homework? Sometimes it’s important clients are doing their hard-earned work outside of therapy and not just in the therapy room.
So there you have it. A simple breakdown of what counselling is and what it does. Until next time.