Counselling is an interaction between a professional (counsellor) and a client (counselee) aimed at improved adjustment in the client’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. As a process, the effectiveness of counselling depends on the ability of the client to understand and address their issues and bring about the desired changes to their own life.
It takes great courage to address personal concerns. In the course of counselling, the client can learn new things about self and perhaps about others. It is therefore encouraging to seek professional assistance.
If you have not been to counselling before, it is good to be prepared and to be well-acquainted with what to expect. The following are useful hints:
Counselling is a process
- Counselling is a process. In that case, it takes time to resolve an issue. Moreover, some issues may take more time than others. The person who offers assistance is the counsellor, while the person seeking help is the client or counsellee.
- The person seeking help and the counsellor sit in private preferably in a room, and engage in discussions over an aspect that the counsellee (or client) feel concerned about, or is disturbing them.
- The counsellor does not offer any solution or answers to the problem/s; instead, he/she assists the client to develop insight to enable them deal with their issue/s and concern/s.
- In some cases, just a single session may be sufficient for certain needs. But mostly, the client and the counsellor continue to meet for several weeks or even months.
- Each session typically lasts between 40 minutes and one hour. In certain instances, the counsellor and client agree to extend the session.
Discussions between client and counsellor
- The client and the counsellor plan on the meetings; when (time) where (place) and for how long they will be meeting.
- Counselling consists of the first and subsequent sessions.
- The first session is the initial stage. During this session, the client and counsellor will discuss about the counselling sessions, such as how long they last, the frequency, counselling policy, fees and the number of sessions that may need to be attended before reviewing progress. They will also discuss confidentiality of information and any other questions or issues the client may want to be clarified.
- If there is time remaining of the first session, the client may take time to talk about what they would like to address in subsequent counselling sessions.
- The number of sessions required may depend on the issue at hand. As the sessions progress, other issues may come up, or the issue that was presented may be resolved.
- During the sessions, the counsellor walks with the client on their journey of insight and understanding. She or he will also attempt to ensure that the client has insight into the presented issue, history of the client, people involved and intervention strategies that could work.
Client is assisted in order to gain insight into their situation
- It is important that the client make a decision on what they would like to work on first, and the goal they aim to achieve in counselling.
- Towards the end, the therapist will draw attention to the fact that the sessions are coming to an end. In addition, the counsellor will alert the client on the issues they have talked about or discussed over the sessions. The client will also talk about the skills they have learned, the changes and goals they have accomplished and any other concerns about the counselling relationship.
- At the end of therapy, the counsellor will inform the client that the sessions are over. The counsellor will thank the client for coming and inform the client that in case there is need in future, they can seek further assistance.
Psychological counselling is very helpful as it is designed to provide a safe environment in which difficult thoughts, feelings and actions can be gently explored. It is possible that the person seeking counselling may be able to move on and use the skills learnt to make future decisions. This is very useful and certainly the best outcome that the client and counsellor can achieve.