What is Counselling? It’s Definitions, Nature & Goals.

Definitions of Counselling

Biswalo (1996) defines counselling as a process of helping an individual to accept and to use information and advice so that he/she can either solve his/her present problem or cope with it successfully.

According to British Association for Counseling and Psychotherapy (2002), counselling takes place when a counselor sees a client in a private and confidential setting to explore a difficulty a client is having, distress that the client may be experiencing or perhaps the client’s dissatisfaction with life or loss of a sense or direction and purpose.

The American Counseling Association conference (2010), a consensus definition of counseling: “Counseling is a professional relationship that empowers diverse individuals, families, and groups to accomplish mental health, wellness, education, and career goals.”

As per American Counseling Association (ACA), Division 17 of APA, have defined counselling on numerous occasions. These definitions contain -:

  • Counseling is a profession.
  • Counseling deals with personal, social, vocational empowerment, and educational concerns.
  • Counseling is conducted with persons who are considered to function within the normal range.
  • Counseling is theory-based and takes place in a structured setting.
  • Counseling is a process in which clients learn how to make decision and formulate new ways of behaving, feeling and thinking.
  • Counseling encompasses various subspecialties.




Counselling: Nature and goals 

  • 1.Professional relationship-
  • 2.Voluntary relationship
  • 3.Helping relationship (one-to-one, face-to-face )
  • 4.Personalized process
  • 5.Growth process
  • 6.Interactional process
  • 7.Motivational process
  • 8.Warm accepting relationship
  • 9.The relationship in individual counselling is characterized by mutual trust and respect which means the clients feel safe to disclose and explore their concerns.

Difference between Guidance & Counselling

  • Guidance is a term which is broader than counselling.
  • It includes counselling as one of its services.
  • Butter makes a logical separation of the counselling process i.e.
    • (i) Adjustive phase- The emphasis is on social, personal and emotional problems of the individual- Counselling
    • (ii) Distributive phase – the focus is upon educational, vocational and occupational problems. – Guidance
  • Guidance
    • one way exchange.
    • It includes educating, influencing, instructing and showing the way.
    • It is encouraging in nature.
  • Counselling-
    • Two way exchanges,
    • It is enabling clients to explore problems, understand problems and resolve, come to terms with problems.
    • It is facilitative in nature.




Difference between Advice & Counselling

  • Advice-
    • It does not require professional training unlike counselling.
    • It has no psychological implication regarding individual development.
    • Advice is a one way process.
    • It includes giving opinion, making judgement and making a recommendation.
    • It is persuasive in nature.
    • A person in difficulty may seek advice on the problem confronting him at the moment.
  • Counselling-
    • In this stage the counsellor suggests appropriate courses of action.
    • Here the counsellor will offer you several options and recommends one according to your aim or interest.
    • For example if your aim is to be an engineer, the counsellor will suggest you a course related to applied mathematics.




Difference between Psychotherapy & Counselling

  • Counselling
    • Short-term mental health treatment.
    • Deals with emotional distress arising from the here and now situation.
    • For example,
      • Emotional disturbance experienced by a child who has lost a parent,
      • A child who failed in an exam
      • A group of children who experienced life threatening calamitous situations
  • Psychotherapy
    • Long-term consultation and treatment
    • Useful when a person experiences emotional disturbance, distress persistently for a long period & patterns start emerging in the behavior.

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