The Importance of Self-Awareness in Counselling

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HOW DOES A COUNSELLOR DIFFER FROM A FRIEND?
Folashade Oloniyo
Abstract
In this essay, the characteristics of a counsellor and a friend will be expanded upon in order to gain a greater knowledge for deciphering the two.

We all have been in situations where we hit a brick wall in our life and are unsure of the next step or the next move to make. We have close friends to whom we can turn and reach out to, but in some situations, are they really our best option for help? Friends are needed for support on many levels, but on others, professional reinforcement may be of greater good. With that said, I challenge you the reader and ask the questions: What is counselling? How does a counsellor differ from a friend? In this essay, this topic will be further explored and expanded upon. I will give a greater understanding of both, and by doing so we will be able to more accurately decipher the two.

Let us begin by defining the question: What is a counsellor? “You may be surprised to find that there is no single definition of helping that holds true for all contexts,” (Peter Saunders (2011). First Steps in Counselling. Ross-on-Wye: PCCS BOOKS. P4.) I have found this statement to be accurate throughout my research of counselling, but I have also come across a few definitions that come close to summarising the practice. “Counselling is an activity freely entered into by the person seeking help, it offers the opportunity to identify things for the client themselves that 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, may offer the client a greater sense of personal resources and behaviours that, once assessed self-determine change.” (Janice Russell, Graham Dexter, Tim Bond. 1992 Differentiation Between Advice, Guidance, Befriending, Counselling Skills and Counselling. Advice, Guidance and Counselling Lead Body)

In my career as a hair stylist, I find that counselling and listening skills have been a part of my daily routine long before embarking on the path of wanting to become qualified in the field. I find myself tuning into the lives and encounters of those who sit in my chair. Their joy, their sadness, their confusion, and their turmoil… they share it all. Am I the right person with whom such personal encounters should be told? Presumably not. Never the less, people from all walks of life feel the utmost comfort in sharing their issues with me and never cease to hold back.

(Journal entry December 6, 2011) “Today was quite an unusual day. Not as far as the pace, because that was neither fast nor slow. It fell in the middle… something like purgatory. When I say unusual, I mean unusual encounter. Shola came in today and we had a conversation that caught me off guard. She’s definitely become more than just a client to me. I now consider her to be a friend. She’s opened herself up to me on many levels, and not so much on others. Even before my exposure to the realm of counselling, my intuition suggested that her self esteem and self worth were rather low, which has made her dependency upon relationships quite high in a subconscious effort to bridge the gap. I can’t actually remember how we reached this particular subject of conversation, but I can recall Shola telling me as she shed a tear that, she miscarried a few months back. I asked her who the pregnancy was for and she replied her ex… the ex she’s no longer with but still sees intimately. She has said to me previously that he had been unfaithful in their relationship, and out of it came a child for another woman. She didn’t feel the need to leave him, until his infidelity occurred a few more times. But even after leaving him, she carried on with the sexual encounters that resulted in the conception that she told...
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