Hahn and Maclean defined counseling as “a process which takes place in a one to one relationship between an individual beset by problems with which he cannot cope alone and a professional worker whose training and experience have qualified him to help others reach solutions to various types of personal difficulties”. There are certain counselors duties.
The counseling process implies continuous change. It should take place in the client in order to promote personality change in a desired direction. The kind of change that the counselor aims to bring through counseling is briefly –
a) Awareness on the part of the client
b) Behavioral change in a desired direction through which client can achieve his or her goals
c) Understanding the clients potentialities, limitations and how to utilize them best in achieving the desired goal.
In vocational and educational counseling the major emphasis of the counselor is on collecting the factual information. He/She tries to help in rational problem solving processes, clarifying self concepts, values, etc.
However, while counseling the individuals with personal and emotional problems the counselors duties are different. In this context information and planning in logical terms do not play central role.
Overall we can infer that overall emphasis of vocational and educational counseling is on cognitive aspect whereas counseling related to personal issues lays stress on affective aspect.
Thus, though counseling goals may differ as per the needs of the client the counseling process follows a specified sequence of interactions or steps. Hackney and Cormier (1996) identified the stages or steps as follows:
- Establishing relationship with the client
- Problem identification and Exploration
- Planning for problem solving
- Solution application and termination.
Counselors Duties and Roles
Establishing Relationship with the Client
The core of the counseling process is the relationship established between the counselor and the client.
The counselor takes the initiative to establish a climate conducive to develop mutual respect, trust, free and open communication and understanding in general of what the counseling process involves.
Both the counselor’s attitude and verbal communications is significant to the development of a satisfactory relationship. Verbal communication includes attentive listening, understanding and feeling with the client.
The quality of counselor client relationship determines the counseling outcomes. Factors that are important in the establishment of counselor client relationship are positive regard and respect, accurate empathy, and genuineness. In addition, to ensure these conditions the counselor needs to have openness: an ability to understand and feel with the client as well as value the client.
Counselor client relationship serves to increase the opportunities for clients to attain their goals. Moreover, a potential model of a good interpersonal relationship. In fact, one that clients can use to improve the quality of their relationships outside the therapeutic setting.
The counselor helps the client make effective interpersonal relationships and free him from unrealistic aspirations. In this the counselor plays the part of a teacher.
Pepinsky and Pepinsky (1954) define the relationship “as a hypothetical construct to designate the inferred affective character of the observable interaction between two individuals”. He emphasised the affective or emotional element in the relationship.
Counselors Duties and Goals –
- Establish a comfortable and positive relationship.
- Explain the counseling process and mutual responsibilities to the client.
- Facilitate communication.
- Identify and verify the client’s concern that brought him/her to the counselor.
- Plan with the client to obtain assessment data needed to proceed with the counseling process.
Problem Identification and Exploration
After the establishment of an adequate relationship, the clients become more receptive for in depth discussion. Moreover, exploration of their concern.
This is a time for information gathering. The more useful information the counselor gathers the more accurate assessment of clients need could be done. Therefore, it is important for counselors to recognize the various areas of information to be gathered.
Usually the desired information could be grouped under three headings: time dimension, the feeling dimension, and the cognitive dimension.
i) Time Dimension: includes the clients past experiences which had major impact on his/her life. Present dimension would cover how well the client is functioning currently specially those current experiences that had an impact enough on the client to seek counseling. In addition, Future dimension would include future demands, goals and how the client plans to achieve them.
ii) Feeling Dimension: includes emotions and feelings the client has towards oneself (self concept) and significant others.
iii) Cognitive Dimension: includes how the client solves problems, the coping styles, the rationality used in making daily decisions. Moreover, the client’s capacity and readiness for the learning.
The steps or stages counselor follows for problem identification and exploration are as follows:
1) Define the Problem: Counselor with the co-operation of client tries to identify the problem as specifically and objectively as possible. In fact, he/she tries to identify the components or contributing factors, severity of the problem and its duration.
2) Explore the Problem: The counselor may take a detailed case study or administer standardized psychological measures to collect the required information.
3) Integrate the information: Counselor systematically organizes and integrates all the information collected into a meaningful profile of the client and his problems.
Planning for Problem Solving
The counselor determines that all relevant information regarding the client has been gathered and understood in proper perspective. In fact, client has also developed awareness that something needs to be done about a specific problem. Further, counselor moves on to develop a plan in collaboration with client to remediate the concern of the client. The sequence of steps that the counselor usually follows is as follows:
1) Define the problem: It is important that both client and counselor view the problem with similar perspective.
2) Identify and list all the solutions: At this point, appropriate brain storming needs to be done for all possibilities. In fact, efforts from both the sides (client and counselor) are required.
3) Analysis of the consequences of the suggested solutions: Here the counselor encourages and suggests the client to identify the steps needed
for the implementation. This process is important as it enables the client to assess the pros and cons of each proposed solutions and its consequences.
4) Prioritize the solutions: Further, after weighing out the pros and cons of each possible solution, the client with the help of the counselor list the solutions with the best possible outcome down to least likely to give desired outcome. After finalizing and selecting the best solution the client moves on to the application and implementation.
Solution Application and Termination
In this final stage the counselor encourages the client to act upon his or her determined solution of the problem.
During the time the client actively involves in implementing the problem solution, the counselor maintains contact as a source of follow up, support and encouragement. Because, the client may need the counselor’s assistance if things do not go according to plan.
However, once it is determined that the counselor and the client has dealt with the client’s concern to the maximum possible extent, the counseling process is terminated. Termination refers to the decision, one-sided or mutual, to stop counseling. (Burke, 1989).The counselor usually concludes the counseling by summarizing the main points of the counseling process.