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Counselling is a process that enables a person to sort out issues and reach decisions affecting their life. Often Counselling is sought out at times of change or crisis, it need not be so, however, as counselling can also help us at any time of our life. Counselling involves talking with a person in a way that helps that person solve a problem or helps to create conditions that will cause the person to understand and/or improve his behaviour, character, values or life circumstances.
Difficult transitions, work-related stress and relationship problems are problems we all may face at some time in our lives, but each of us has different levels of coping mechanisms to deal with these stresses. Counselling can provide opportunities for those who need to sort out issues and reach decisions to find their own solutions to living in a satisfying and more productive way.
Counselling, like psychotherapy, is a talk-based treatment in which the counsellor and an individual, couple or group explore particular areas which are causing difficulties with a view to finding solutions. Rather than focusing on the past, it concentrates on what is happening in the here and now and on raising self-awareness.
The role of Counsellor is not to be confused with that of mentor or life-coach. Although the term counselling tends to suggest the giving of advice, actually what happens is that the counsellor guides patients in such a way that they are able to identify for themselves what are often patterns of behaviour or recurrent thoughts and feelings which cause or aggravate problems, or which prevent them from finding solutions and moving forwards. Using the benefit of his or her experience, the counsellor can help individuals, couples or families to see issues from different perspectives so that they are more easily able to identify realistic and workable solutions.
As a very practical form of treatment, counselling offers the opportunity for patients to try out new ways of thinking or behaving in the real world, but whilst under the care and guidance of a fully-trained and qualified practitioner. New techniques and ways of handling difficult situations are reported back to the counsellor and if certain approaches do not work for the individual, then they can be adjusted so as to achieve a more beneficial effect.
Counselling can help with a range of problematic issues, from vague feelings of unease, to relationship difficulties. It is particularly good for partners or group treatment, as the focus would be placed on understanding the communication and interaction between the parties concerned, although at no time would the counsellor take sides or judge.
Other types of issues which typically cause crises to develop in people lives and require counselling include:
In some cases, it is for more ethereal concerns that individuals seek help through counselling, such as those surrounding mortality, the meaning of life, a sense of longing or confusion in terms of life direction.
Because counselling does not focus heavily on deep-rooted issues from the past, often sessions take place over a shorter time period than with psychotherapy. Having said this, however, the effects of counselling, like those of psychotherapy, are typically long-lasting because patients levels of self-awareness are raised and they learn the tools to be able to develop effective solutions for themselves into the future.