As the pressures of modern life become ever greater, increasing numbers of people are turning to counsellors for support.
Counselling is a contractual arrangement whereby a counsellor meets a client in privacy and confidence to explore dissatisfactions or difficulties, which the client is experiencing. No one can be “sent” for Counselling, it must be the choice of the client, for a reluctant client will rarely get the best out of his or her Counselling.
By listening attentively the counsellor begins to perceive the difficulties from the client’s point of view helping the client to see his or her problem from a range of different perspectives. Counselling is a way of facilitating choice or change and of reducing confusion. “I don’t know which way to turn, what to do, what’s the matter with me” are frequent opening remarks.
During counselling sessions the client is encouraged to explore various aspects of his or her life and feelings, talking freely and openly in a way that is rarely possible with friends or family – to a person outside of the situation who neither judges nor takes control of the decision making process. Bottled up feelings such as anger, anxiety, grief and embarrassment can become very intense and an opportunity to express these during counselling can make them easier to understand. The counsellor will encourage the expression of thoughts and feelings and as a result of his or her training will be able to accept whatever the material the clients brings without becoming personally burdened.
As trust is built up between the client and counsellor, the client is encouraged to look at aspects of his or her life – for example, relationships and ways of relating which they may not have thought of or felt able to face before. There may be some exploration of early relationships to discover why certain reactions to people or circumstances occur that may contribute to the difficulties experienced, followed by consideration of ways in which they might change. The counsellor may set out a range of options open to clients helping the client evaluate the pros and cons of each option. The counsellor may help the client examine situations or behaviours, which are proving troublesome, and to identify a point where it would be possible to initiate autonomy is the ultimate aim of counselling. Counsellors enable clients to make their own choices and decisions to action. some change, whatever theoretical approach the counsellor uses.
The individual client commitment involved in the counselling process will vary according to the counsellors approach, the client’s specifications and the problem itself. Deep-rooted difficulties may need a weekly session over several months, whereas a short-term specific problem may take only a few sessions. Sessions last anywhere from 45 to 60 minutes. Some counsellors specialise in particular problem areas, such as alcohol misuse, eating disorders or sexual problems. A Counsellor may give advice based on their specialist knowledge and training. However, such advice will be specific and task orientated yet respectful of the counselling relationship and the ultimate autonomy of the client.