1. What is counseling?
Counseling is a specialized field branched out of the disciplines such as Psychology, Social Work, Psychiatry and Guidance. A Medical doctor takes care of our Physical Health and a Counselor takes care of Mental Health. Counseling is NOT advices/suggestions but helping people to help themselves. This involves a Professional relationship between a counselor and a client in which the client is helped to become aware of one’s own thoughts, feelings and behavior thereby correct it on his/her own. Advice and suggestions will make the people dependent on the person who is offering it. Counseling will make people self-dependent.
2. Who is a counselor?
A counselor is a professionally qualified person in psychology/Psychiatric Social Work/Guidance & Counseling. He/She is trained to understand and help people. A professional counselor uses specific scientific knowledge and skills to treat mental, emotional, behavioral health problems. In addition, the counselor uses several counseling techniques in empowering individuals cope with anxiety, stress and any crises in life. A counselor is useful in remedial as well as preventive treatment.
3. Why is counseling?
Everyone perceives oneself to be strong, and independent in meeting life’s challenging situations, however, there are certain times when seeking assistance may indeed be a practical option. In essence, help seeking behaviors when needed should be viewed as a sign of personal strength.
Listed below are examples of situations where counseling is strongly suggested.
- Facing problems in relationships with the family, friends, workplace, community and society at large
- Problems with Academic Performance
- Depression or marked anxiety
- Sleeplessness/excessive sleep
- Unable to cope with stress
- Depressed with lack of interest in life
- Having difficulties in communicating with others
- Being confused about interests, abilities, or values.
- Poor performance in chosen field of study.
- Thinking of suicide or expressing statements of helplessness or hopelessness
4. Why not just talk to a friend/well-wisher?
Of course, well-wishers are very important people in our lives. Though talking to them may resolve some issues, there are many limitations. In the busy life of the present, friends and family have their own problems and may not be listening very carefully and unintentionally end up giving advices that may actually prove more harmful than helpful. They may not be able to look at you objectively. They can be biased unconsciously because they have preconceived notions about you. There is a possibility that they can influence you with their personal values and judgments. When issues are complex, they may become anxious and transfer their anxiety to you, whereas a professional assesses you based on scientific knowledge and thus the bias is very minimum and objectivity is very high. A professional will be able to help even if the issue is complex because he is well trained to understand people and possess the skills and qualities to help!
5. How does counseling help an individual?
It helps in learning new/different ways of thinking, feeling and behaving to resolve conflicts/problems/losses in everyday life.
6. What are the Ethical Principles of counseling?
Counseling is always voluntary. People should not be forced to go for counseling. Counsellors have respect for Privacy and Autonomy. They will not influence the client by personal values and judgments. Counsellors maintain strict Confidentiality. They do not reveal the identities and things discussed in counseling to any other. Counsellors have developmental and cultural sensitivity and act to avoid harming their clients. The relationship between Counselor and Client will be a professional relationship alone. Counsellors do not condone or engage in discrimination based on age, gender, culture, disability, ethnicity, caste and religion. When Counselors feel that they are not able to help the clients and lack in competence, they will refer the clients to competent professionals.
7. Who will benefit the most?
The individuals who accept that their own efforts have not helped and seek counseling voluntarily benefit the most! Please remember that counseling is NOT advice giving. Counseling help is not a “quick-fix" solution. It is an interpersonal process between the client and a trained mental health professional. Commitment on the part of the client and their families along with counseling professional bring greater results.
8. What can happen if an individual delays in seeking professional help?
In researches, it is proven that the individual who delays seeking professional help may unconsciously magnify or intensify his/her conflicts/issues thereby sabotaging his/her life and the lives of his/her loved ones.
9. What is the difference between a Psychiatrist and a Counselor?
Both professionals often deal with similar mental health problems; however the focus of treatment tends to be different. Psychiatrists are medical doctors with M.D. in Psychiatry and are recognized to prescribe medicines, specializing in the treatment of mental disorders. A professional counselor is a psychologist who has the ability to define problems and identify the barriers that prevent them from thinking clearly. The counselors throws light on those barriers and works with the individual and his/her family (when necessary) to develop proactive, objective solutions to problems. Psychiatrists and professional counselors may team up together in treatment process for better results for various mental disorders such as addictions, clinical depression, schizophrenia and other mental disorders that require medications.