Explained: Counselling, all you need to know about it

Getting a helping hand, getting better

Learn what is counselling and when to seek it, which issues it can help you address, and what things a client should expect from it.

person in black pants and black shoes sitting on brown wooden chair for counselling
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Most 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 professionally trained counsellor entails.

Being self-aware and having the capability to think and feel emotions with empathy, clarity, and understanding is part of being a human. Unlike animals, our thought processes rely far more on emotions than instinct alone.

Due to this, there is scope for the way we think to become a problem and to affect our emotions. If we go back a few hundred years, we can see that mental health, psychological, and emotional issues were approached with fear and unnecessarily invasive treatments. Thanks to the evolution of science and technology, In this modern age we now have a clearer understanding of the human brain and are able to look at these issues in a different way.

Today, thankfully, the art of talking therapy such as counselling, is used to help people cope with many problems they are facing in their lives, with the ultimate aim of overcoming them.

Know that there is a huge difference between a professionally trained counsellor and a person who offers you some advice, for example as a friend or colleague. A professional counselor is a highly-trained individual who is able to use a different range of counseling approaches and techniques with their clients. In this article, we will try to throw some light on counseling and explain everything that you need to know about it.

What is Counselling?

According to the American Counseling Association, counseling is defined as, “a professional relationship that empowers diverse individuals, families, and groups to accomplish mental health, wellness, education, and career goals.

In simple words, Counseling is a process that involves helping clients to deal with their personal or other issues by a therapist/counsellor. Counselling allows an individual to have an opportunity to improve upon their understanding of themselves, including their pattern of thoughts, behaviors, feelings, and the ways in which these may have been problematic in their lives.

woman in black long sleeve shirt sitting on brown wooden chair for counselling
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It also helps to examine how to tap into existing resources or develop new ones that enhance their lives and relationships and deal with their problems in a healthy way.

Counseling involves helping people make needed changes in ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving, and is a goal-based collaborative process, involving a non-judgmental, unbiased, supportive counsellor who works with a client in telling his or her story, setting viable goals, and developing strategies and plans necessary to accomplish these goals.

What Issues Does Counseling Address?

People seek counseling or therapy when their attempts to deal with their issues are no longer effective. Counseling can be helpful areas such as:

  • Adjustment issues, including adjustment to transition in life.
  • Anger management
  • Stress management
  • Mental health problems
  • Anxiety, Phobias, OCD
  • Career
  • Communication
  • Depression, Mood disorders
  • Emotional or behavioral issues
  • Eating disorders, sleep disorders
  • Gender identity and sexual orientation.
  • Grief and bereavement.
  • Relationship difficulties such as breakups, marital issues.
  • Conflict management
  • Thoughts of suicide or preoccupation with death
  • Trauma
  • Dealing with pain and suffering.
  • Chronic or Terminal Illness
  • Tension-type headaches in migraine.
  • Addiction to gaming, smartphone, internet, or substance abuse of alcohol, tobacco, smoking, and other drugs.
  • and Many More

Facing immense stress in your life- Then try talking to our therapists for stress management at your convenience

Types Of Counselling

“Counselling” is a very broad domain in itself. It has many subfields depending on the areas of specialization it deal with. Counsellors and therapists help their clients in many ways, depending upon the type of counseling they need based on their problems. Various types of counseling are as follows:

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Individual Counseling

Individual counseling is a one on one counseling process between the client/patient and a trained counsellor, therapist, psychiatrist, psychotherapist, or psychologist, where the client/patient seeks to achieve certain goals.

It is mainly a process of self-discovery/awareness and overcoming your problems. In Individual counseling, a person deals with his/her issues under the guidance of the counselor.

Individual counseling is preferred because it provides a safe setting for a patient to talk openly about his/her problems and disclose his/her feelings, without fear of being judged or labeled.

Group Counseling

Group counseling refers to counseling a group of people who are experiencing similar issues such as in case of addiction or social anxiety. Going to a group counseling session is helpful because it provides a support network to the client and here they can openly discuss their issues with other people who are going through similar problems.

Child and Adolescent Counselling

Child and adolescent counseling helps children or adolescents to explore and address any concerns that may be causing problems in their social, emotional, or cognitive development. This process provides them the opportunity to express difficult or confused feelings in a safe environment with clear boundaries.

It helps teenagers in developing their awareness to deal with social situations, relationships both personally and professionally including peer pressure and family, education, and sexual health issues.

It is helpful in addressing Childhood/ Adolescent Disorders such as Pica, Ticks, Enuresis, Encopresis, Eating disorders, Stress-related disorders. Mood disorders. Obsessive-compulsive disorder. Disruptive behavioral disorders (eg, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder [ADHD], conduct disorder, and oppositional defiant disorder)

Career Counseling

Career counseling is for both students who are about to decide their careers and professionals, to guide them on their professional growth trajectory. It usually involves an assessment of clients’ strengths and discovering where their interests lie.

Career counseling generally takes place in a high school setting, and could also involve help in the selection of colleges to best suit the student’s needs and requirements. However, it could also be for professionals who want to switch careers due to dissatisfaction or want to learn how to progress in the career they have chosen.

Relationship & Marriage Counseling

Relationship and Marriage Counseling also known as Couples Counseling. As the name suggests, it is a type of counseling that involves the parties of a relationship, in order to resolve relationship issues and foster better relationships.

Typically, relationship counseling involves couple therapy, which is a subset of relationship therapy, where partners involved in a romantic relationship seek therapy, however, relationship counseling is not confined to those involved in a romantic or sexual relationship.

It could be relationship counseling between parents and a child, boss, and employee, etc. Marriage counseling is the counseling of parties to a marriage, either before marriage or after marriage. It could be for a specific problem, or to remove the general toxicity of a relationship.

Substance Abuse Counseling

Substance Abuse Counseling is used for the treatment of addiction (deaddiction) to alcohol, tobacco, smoking, or drugs. It helps individuals to understand what causes addiction, learning to recognize risk factors for relapse and develop tools for coping with stressful situations. It helps them to rehabilitate so that they can again function as productive members of society and live their lives normally as they were before.

Telephone counselling

Telephone counseling offers a helpful alternative to face-to-face counseling. This involves the therapy session between the client and the counselor over the phone instead of meeting in person. This form of counseling can be particularly useful for those too busy to attend face-to-face sessions and can be carried out in the comfort of their own home.

Online Counseling

Online counseling is counseling provided through the medium of the internet, via email, real-time chat, and video calling. It is nowadays preferred as there are several benefits such as accessibility (anyone with an internet connection can access session to their therapist), affordability (economical for both the counselor and the client), convenience (can avail counseling at the preferred time of convenience), social stigma (there is no fear of being ‘caught’ or seen by their someone they know), anonymity (no need to reveal the true identity of the patient).

How can Counseling help and what to expect?

The counselor is not there to sit you down and tell you what to do. Instead, they will encourage you to talk about what’s bothering you in order to uncover any root causes and identify your specific ways of thinking (faulty patterns). The counselor may then look to create a plan of action to either help you reconcile your issues or help you to find ways of better coping with your problems.

The way counseling can help will depend on the person receiving the treatment. It offers clients a safe and confidential environment to speak. It gives you space and freedom to explore your own thoughts with an unbiased party. During the counseling session, your counselor will help you uncover your own insight and understanding of your problems by providing you with the tools which will help you to resolve them on your own. They will give you some tasks which you will have to complete in order to monitor your progress.

In the majority of cases, a single session will not be enough to help overcome any issues you’re facing. Counseling is a journey, and a process in itself and it takes time and consistency to work effectively. Because of this, many people opt for regular counseling sessions to make the most of the process.

Counselling is:

The process involves a client/patient and counselor setting aside time to explore difficulties which may include the stressful or emotional feelings of the client in a safe, private setting.

The act of helping the client to see things more clearly and gain insight into their issues, possibly from a different view-point. This can enable the client to focus on feelings, experiences, or behavior, with the goal of facilitating positive change and navigating their way out of their problems.

A relationship of trust. Confidentiality is paramount to successful counseling. Professional counselors will usually explain their policy on confidentiality. They may be times when they are bound by law to disclose the information if they believe that there is a risk to life.

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Dr. Ankit Gaur

Dr. Ankit Gaur is a Counsellor and Family Therapist. He is an experienced healthcare professional holding two post-graduate degrees (MSc in Counselling and Family Therapy, and PharmD}. His area of specialization lies in the field of counselling and family therapy covering all types of patients from different age groups such as pediatric, geriatric, adolescents, adults, and marital couples.

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