Most people have times in their lives when they are distressed. Changes (sometimes known as life events) involving bereavement, loss of status because of unemployment, and ill health can cause serious questioning of life’s purpose. Persistent losses overwhelm a person’s ability to cope; this inability can cause difficulties at work, school/college and in relationships. Most of the time we find ways of dealing with such problems in living by talking to family, friends, neighbours or well-wishers and if help is not available from this supportive network (friends or family), this may lead to physical illness, anxiety, depression, or chronic maladaptive behaviour, such as addiction to alcohol, drugs, food, gambling or work. But occasionally their advice is not sufficient or we are embarrassed or ashamed to tell them what is bothering us or we just do not have the appropriate person to turn to. In these conditions, counselling is a really useful option.
2.0 DEFINITION OF COUNSELLING
People have always turned to others for help in crisis. In the 20th century, perhaps with the decline in formal religious belief in Western cultures, there has been a growth in the helping professions, such as counselling (Encarta Encyclopedia, 2003). Counselling includes the skills of helping people to cope with personal difficulties through interviews and other procedures, with the aim of allowing them to reach solutions to their difficulties themselves. The term covers a wide spectrum of therapeutic activites, from practical advice given during one or two meetings to sympathetic attention over months or years. According to Russell, Dexter and Bond (1992), counselling is an activity freely entered into by the person seeking help, it offers the opportunity to identify things for the client themselves that they are troubling or perplexing. It is clearly and explicitly contracted, and the boundaries of the relationship identified, the activity itself is designed to help self-exploration and understanding. The process should help to identify thoughts, emotions and behaviours that, once accessed, may offer the client a greater sense of personal resources and self determined change. For the British Association of Counsellors (1984), counselling includes work with individuals and with relationships which may be developmental, crisis support, psycho-therapeutic guiding or problem solving...The task of counselling is to give the ‘client’ an opportunity to explore, discover and clarify ways of living more satisfyingly and resourcefully. Hence counselling is the means by which one person helps another through purposeful conversation where the latter can identify practical solutions to the dilemmas. It is worth noting that counselling is not usually concerned with advice giving on part of the counsellor, psychotherapy, treatment of severe mental illness or solving all life’s problem (Burnard, 2009).
Counselling methods are influenced by theories of behavioural psychology and psychoanalysis. Counsellors may assume that it is how people interpret events that causes their anxiety, rather than, or more than, the events themselves. A basic idea is that disordered behaviour can be changed by increasing an individual’s awareness of motivation, need, and freedom of choice. Accepting, recognising, and clarifying what the client is feeling is critically important as is creating conditions that enable the client to make independent decisions. When their feelings overwhelm them, some people lose the ability to deal with them in a way appropriate to their age; they regress, wanting someone else to act as a parent. Problems in dealing with crises may persist if there have been faults in learning one’s basic self. These may have been caused by a lack of parenting skills in a person’s upbringing; by developmental trauma; or by emotional, physical, or sexual abuse in childhood.
4.0 AIM OF COUNSELLING
The aim of counselling is...