The decision to take this course was rooted in a deepening interest in psychotherapy, self–development, the welfare of other people and in a desire to gain a theoretical base to enrich my current arts and health practice.
I understand counselling to be a helping practice that differs from other helping activities, such as teaching for example. Counselling requires professional training and is specifically contracted or explicitly agreed. It has a theoretical base and uses specific methods within an ethical framework. The relationship between the counsellor and the client is built upon mutual expectation and is central to the process of the client under-going significant change in their lives.
Counselling is not giving advice, instruction, information or guidance, such as in the case of teaching. It is not problem solving on the clients behalf nor is it sympathising with the client. There are neither implicit agreements nor reciprocal arrangements. Counselling does not involve making personal judgments or giving opinions, which maybe appropriate in a teaching situation. The counsellor does not impose conditions upon the client or infringe upon agreed boundaries. This differs enormously from teaching, where strict codes of conduct and boundaries are implemented. Disciplinary action is likely to be faced if the ‘rules’ are broken in a teaching situation. In counselling the boundaries are likely to be mutually agreed for the safe working practice of both the counsellor and client, rather than to instill or teach discipline.
The counsellor must also remain impartial and must not have conflicts of interest. Whilst this may not be so for teachers, teachers and counsellors do share other qualities, such as being attentive, present, available, understanding, supportive, and respectful. Counsellors however seek to empowerment their clients through employing specific skills in active listening and considered responding.