Counseling is a noble and helping profession. As we all know, a counselor is just a facilitator in the process of Counseling. The aim may be Behavior modification or resolving problems.
The first duty of the counselor is to clarify the doubts of client about the counseling process. Clients can be clarified by telling the following in small doses.
“Unless you yourself internalize the idea of modifying the behavior, it is not possible to modify the behavior. A counselor can give suggestions and ideas and help the client to change him/herself.
You are the one who has been with you since your birth and will be with you till the death. So you should have known the most about yourself. If you initiate the process of knowing yourself, you can select the appropriate things with the help of the counselor.
It’s a must to utilize all your potentials to solve your own problems. When you are not able even after trying all your efforts, you should seek help. The counselor will make you congruent, help you to come off the emotions, reason logically and give suggestions according to your personality.
You bear the responsibility of making decisions just because you are the one who is going to face the consequences of it.
If you often seek help from the counselor, then you become dependent on the counselor. You forget your potentials and lose your self. You eventually get into Learned Helplessness! (In the last stage)”
An ideal counselor must first understand the problem of the client and the personality of the client. After comprehending them, he/she should try to make him/her congruent by using all the knowledge he/she got from studying psychology and using counseling skills. It is very important to make the client self aware. After attaining congruency, counselor can help the client to come with his/ her own suggestions and analyze which is the most appropriate.
The counselor must not generalize the problems of client and look into the problems of every client as unique since all the human beings are unique.
I would say there is absolutely nothing wrong and right in this world. Everything is relative. The same thing in one situation which is regarded as right is regarded as wrong in another situation. For example, murdering a person is wrong generally but Law can give capital punishment and murder or murdering the enemies in war is rewarded. In Philosophy we call it as Teleological Ethics (Deontological Ethics says everything is absolute).
Referring to Tradition or Modern or Post Modern Concepts to determine whether the idea of the client is right or wrong will not work. The counselor and client can look into the concept ‘Which is most suitable in this situation and to the Client?’ for which both the client and counselor are be open minded and non judgmental since we know counseling is a collaborative process.
Giving straight away suggestions without understanding the client and the uniqueness of his/her problem by generalizing the problems will lead to serious injuries to both counselor and client.
--------Actual Article ends here---------
I hope as counselors we have understood all the above things and we know what are the skills needed for counselors such as unconditional positive regard, empathy and confidentiality.
As soon as I finished writing the above article, the two parts of my heart had started the conversation as follows,
“Do I have all the skills really and do I apply all of them in my daily life?”
“Hey, I don’t counsel anybody everyday; it is not needed to have the skills now and let me acquire the skills when I become full-time counselor.”
“No da! If I don’t practice the skill while I am learning counseling psychology, then it is impossible to become a well reputed counselor because as soon as I sit in the counselor seat, I cannot immediately acquire the skills. Acquiring Skills is a process and that must start now itself.”
“Karthik, you don’t have people with problems to do counseling, where will you find them and start practicing?”
“Ya, It’s not possible na! But I have people around me, right? The lab for counseling psychology is around me and includes me too!!”
“Yahoo! So I can become a well reputed counselor in the future if I use the lab; I will apply all the knowledge I have got and acquire those skills”
So I can start trying to apply the skills of counseling in my daily life with everyone around me and with myself.
The terms counselor and client are very professional. So I thought of coming little down and say client is the one who talks about his/her problems, thoughts and behavior with us. The Counselor is the one whom the client believes. Even though they do not share the problems or their thoughts and behavior with us, we can think of helping and it is good to help when they believe us.
We can think of others behavior, analyze and keep it confidential when the person believes us, we can help. If we want to share that with someone else to know whether our understanding is right, it is better to discuss with only one person who would also keep things confidential.
Our duty is to help others and not make others get into problems by revealing our understanding!
So, when I asked from where I should start, I look how much percentage of counseling skills I have at present and so I can work on the skills which I lack.
For some counseling skills the ratio was “Yes-60%, No-40%”, for some others it’s “Yes-40%, No-60%” and for some more like empathy, it was “Yes-0%, No-100%”
But I joined this course assuming that I have the personality and skill set of a good counselor. Now I realize that there is a lot more to be developed.
To increase the percentage of ‘yes’, I must start from the thought. I believe the following is a fact!
Thoughts --> Action/Behavior --> Habit --> Character --> Personality.
So I’ll become the personality one day desirably within the period of completing this course if I start today.
So let us start asking the following questions which I asked myself regarding my relationship with others in my daily life and answered to become better.
- Are we Open Minded or do we have parochial/tunnel view?
- Don’t we generalize any of the behavior or thoughts of ours and anybody else?
- Do we think everyone is unique and don’t we compare anybody?
- Do we accept people around you as they are?
- Do we have unconditional positive regard towards our fellow human beings?
- Are we not judgmental?
- Do you look at emotions rather than logic in the behavior?
- Do we have empathy toward others i.e. are we able to put ourselves in the other’s situation?
- Do we maintain confidentiality of others behaviors or problems?
10. Are we able to comprehend the psychological concepts in the behavior of people?
11. Are we able to easily forgive people for their mistakes?
12. Do we help others whatever is within our limits?
13. Do we clarify things from others why is the behavior or limit your understanding to your senses and opinions?
14. Do we spend time for others at least one minute for most of the people around you?
15. Do we have adjustmental problems with the neighbors and if yes, how can we adjust with a new person (i.e.) the client?
“CAN IT BE CALLED AS A TOOL TO MEASURE THE PERSONALITY TRAIT CALLED COUNSELOR?!”
“No, not at all!! There is no personality trait like that. So May it be called as a tool to measure the skills of a counselor??”
We are not born as Counselors but we can become because it is just acquiring skills which needs little more efforts in everyday life!
Moreover as a student of philosophy, I would suggest that we should read some elements of philosophy because Psychology is the last child of Philosophy (regarded as Mother of all sciences and the first child is Physics). To be open-minded, we need to read the books on “Ethics & Contemporary Moral Issues” where many number of arguments are given ‘for’ and ‘against’ a behavior/action like Abortion, Capital Punishment and Homosexuality. The overview of what is ethics can also be known from that.
Finally a word of caution, please ensure from an expert whether you really go behind the correct form of skill. It’s just because “Practice makes permanent (not perfect)” If you practice wrongly, it will be permanent; will become a part of your personality and modifying it would take so much time.