Dr Sukhmani Singh explains the benefits & perceived judgement associated with counselling

One fine day, a friend of mine whom I met after a long time sounded little disturbed. I asked her for the reason, she didn’t open up. After some time she asked me “Is it weird to consult a counsellor for discussing any personal problems”, “Do people judge me for the same.” I was shocked about the misconceptions my friend had. Later, I realised it’s not only her but people are actually not aware of the actual meaning and importance of counselling. Hereby trying to clarify the basics of counselling.

Counselling Explained:

  • The process that occurs when a client and counsellor set aside time in order to explore difficulties which may include the stressful or emotional feelings of the client.
  • The act of helping the client to see things more clearly, possibly from a different view-point. This can enable the client to focus on feelings, experiences or behaviour, with a goal to facilitate positive change.
  • It is a relationship of trust.  Confidentiality is paramount to successful counselling.  Professional counsellors will usually explain their policy on confidentiality, they may, however, be required by law to disclose information if they believe that there is a risk to life. 

Counselling is Not:

  • Just giving advice.
  • Being judgmental.
  • Expecting or encouraging a client to behave in a way in which the counsellor may have behaved when confronted with a similar problem in their own life.
  • Getting emotionally involved with the client.
  • Looking at a client’s problems from your own perspective, based on your own value system.

Role of Counselor

First and foremost counsellors are aware that no two people are alike. So they treat you uniquely.

Counsellors don’t try to fit the clients into his/her idea of what they should be and how they should act.

Counsellors enables the client to explore many aspects of their life and feelings, by talking openly and freely.

Ethically, Counsellors are not judgmental, whereas family and friends are emotionally involved and have biases and opinions.

The counsellor gives the client an opportunity to express difficult feelings with ease such as anger, resentment, guilt and fear in a confidential environment.

Effective counselling reduces confusion, allowing the client to make effective decisions leading to positive changes in their attitude and/or behaviour

Counsellors act as a guide – enable client to make their choices, reach their own decisions and to act upon them accordingly.

The aims of counseling/ Goals

Some of the different aims that are espoused either explicitly or implicitly by counsellors are listed:

  1. Insight: It helps to understand the origins and development of emotional difficulties, leading to an increased capacity to take rational control over feelings and actions.
  2. Relating with others: Becoming better able to form and maintain meaningful and satisfying relationships with other people. For example, within the family or workplace.
  3. Self-awareness: Becoming more aware of thoughts and feelings that had been blocked off or denied, or developing a more accurate sense of how self is perceived by others.
  4. Self-acceptance: The development of a positive attitude towards self, marked by an ability to acknowledge areas of experience that had been the subject of self-criticism and rejection.
  5. Self-actualisation or individuation: Moving in the direction of fulfilling potential or achieving an integration of previously conflicting parts of self.
  6. Enlightenment: Assisting the client to arrive at a higher state of spiritual awakening.

Qualities and Skills of a Good Counsellor

1. They are trustworthy; you feel safe with them.

2. They demonstrate unconditional acceptance, genuineness and empathy.

3. They try to understand things from your perspective.

5. They believe in you. They have a sense of hope and confidence in your ability to change, or find a solution that will work for you.

6. They give you their full and undivided attention when you are sharing with them. (They never seem impatient, disinterested or distracted.)

7. They listen without interrupting.

8. In a counselling session, you do around 90% of the talking; they only talk about 10% of the time.

11. They are warm, calm, sensitive, caring, open, patient and concerned.

12. You feel that you can be your true self when you are with them. You don’t feel judged, criticised or written-off.

13. You get the sense that they respect and like who you are.  

14. You feel valued by them; they see you as the expert on your own life.

15. They are comfortable with silence.

Thus there is no harm to visit counsellor for session. As due to taxing life situations counselling has become the order of the day. As counselling is flexible enough to make the clients enough comfortable. High on confidentiality, enhance the ethical considerations of this profession. So going for counselling is just to boost your wellbeing, however counselling being judgmental is just a ‘Myth’.