Ultimately, counselling is (or should be) about learning and practicing how to HELP YOURSELF. A counsellor’s job or task is to help others to help themselves! A misconception among general society about counselling relates to advice giving. A counsellor should only give advice in certain or particular situations or under certain circumstances such as if somebody is pointing a dealy weapon to their own head (the counsellor could rightfully use “shoulds” then in such circumstances). Generally, for a counsellor to give drug rehab advice is going against the principles of what counselling is about or intended to be (if used correctly) A core idea of counselling as a general rule of thumb is for the client (or person receiving counselling) to grow in him or herself and become self-sufficient as far as handling/managing current and future problems, NOT to become dependent on a counsellor or ANYBODY else to make decisions for them (such as advice giving) which will only hinder or stalemate personal growth and resolution of problems.
Then, what is counselling? Yes it is a helping relationship in that the counsellor helps people to help themselves. A counsellor does not (or should not) DO for others (apart from in exceptional circumstances). Counselling is a therapeutic relationship conducive to personal growth, awareness and the development of problem solving skills in order to deal with general life issues. However, counselling is an ever-evolving field or practice and there are many specialist counsellors who are highly competent and very, very skilled in areas such as grief and loss. There is some debate about whether counselling and psychotherapy are different, and generally there does tend to be differences. As a general rule or guide, even though a counsellor may practice general or specific types of psychotherapy, a counsellor is generally or often not as well endeared in formal recognised qualifications as psychotherapists. What are psychotherapists? They are various practitioners with training and skills in psychotherapy ranging from family therapists to psychiatrists. They are professionals who may have masters or doctorate degrees in particular mental health fields and they are generally licenced, certified and registered and this means that they are recognised by governmental agencies or particular other psychological agencies. A counsellor may have recognised skills too, but not necessarily in the form of a masters or doctorate degree. A counsellor may obtain a diploma of counselling and psychotherapy but never obtain higher qualifications.
The term “therapist” may loosely be used as a broad term covering counsellors and more recognised psychotherapists. Speaking in loose terms, a physiotherapist, a diversional therapist, a pastoral counsellor, an art therapist, a hypnotherapist, a counsellor, a psychologist, a behaviour therapist and many others could all be loosely termed or grouped as therapists. A constable and a sergeant are both police officers but one more highly recognised and a similar comparison could be made between a counsellor and a psychotherapist. An interesting point to note also is that studies have revealed/concluded that paraprofessionals (those with somewhat minimal training such as those who have only had a few hours of training in communication skills such as active listening, using reflective skills, empathy and the like, and others such as college students and those with no formal qualifications in “therapy”) can obtain very positive results in working with those presenting for treatment of general life problems. In other words, many people can be aided in a “therapeutic” relationship or atmosphere with non-professionals (non-therapists) as much as certain professional people who are therapists. It’s not always the case such as in adults who present with more disturbing issues, but the point is that helpers may not absolutely need to be an “expert therapist” in order for others (generally speaking and in general situations) to reap benefits of personal interaction in dealing with general life issues. Certain types of theories and those used in many forms of counselling state and believe that humans have the capacity for self-healing with general problems or issues in life. But it is ideally suitable to associate with others when we need to whether we are facing depression, anxiety problems, relationship problems, addictions and so-forth and a part of the healing package or the “ingredients” that are required for many of us to overcome various problems is to communicate ( in one way or another) with paraprofessionals, non-professionals AND sometimes professional people in whom may come in the form of a warm, empathic and accepting counsellor.
How might a counsellor help? What benefits are there in seeing a counsellor? How DO they help? What role ca