23 October 2016

Can a Professional Counsellor Help?

By David Dutch

The demands of the modern world impacts on the lives of almost every human being across the planet. It is little wonder that more people than ever are finding the need to seek the help of counsellors.

They find that they are unable to express their true thoughts and feelings to their family members or close friends. Sometimes because of the fear of ridicule. Sometimes that all they will hear is "pull yourself together". It is enough to throw them into further depths of anxiety and depression.

Recent studies have shown that people are seeking advice from trained individuals. To help with problems such as personal relationships, self-awareness and sexual pressures etc.

The problems in most European Countries is finding trained practitioners. A person just needs to put a sign on their door to practice counselling. They do not need formal qualifications.

Perhaps the fear of being branded mental, prohibits people turning to the family general practitioner. Even they may not have had any formal training in mental health matters.

Unfortunately, professional associations are known to the health industry. But they do little to advertise themselves to the general public.

Then, if discovered, a person is subject to a bewildering array of different types of therapy. So much so, that an individual who is feeling that they want and need to talk with someone is even more confused.

The world is a complicated place. With an individual exposed to over 20,000 advertisements every day it is even more complicated. This is before we take into consideration financial pressures. The average person feels impoverished even if they are not. But, messages in the mind, often make things appear worse. All adding to the pressures of life.

Listening to bad economic news or told that millions cannot pay their rent or mortgage. Then there are those who exist by visiting food banks. This can actually make a person, who is not subject to these things, feel depressed about their own situation.

So, in their hour of need they ask:- "What is Professional Counselling?" "What is its potential in my situation?"

Counselling is a term that covers the whole range of the Talking Therapies. Therapies that cover every negative facet of modern-day living.

The first check that should be made is the Counsellors professional training. Both academic and practical. They should belong to a professional body. An organization that ensures they are bound by an ethical framework. This guarantees their good practice and professional conduct. The seeker will find counsellors both in self-employed and employed practices.

A counsellor will help their client explore and understand their emotional problems. In talking through a problem, they help them to realize that effective change is often in their own hands

It is well-proven that talking to a counsellor is a successful way of combatting pressures. Even those that have built up over time. It is particularly useful when confronted by redundancy, divorce, or bereavement. Counselling can help other personal matters that include bouts of depression or anxiety.

A counsellor will never offer any medical advice. They may suggest that the client needs to seek the help of their family medical practitioner. Unless, of course they have had the necessary medical training. Training that allows them to be registered as a medical practitioner.

It is often true that bouts of stress and anxiety are brought on by events that happened years before. These can go back to even childhood if they were not successfully dealt with, at the time. Bullying or abuse can lie dormant for years. Brought to the fore by a trigger with often devastating results.

What must of course be accepted is that a counsellor cannot fully deal with everything. Quite often during the first meeting a counsellor will tell the client that they recommend them seeking the help of their doctor. Or even perhaps, an alternative therapist in their own practice who has the greater or different skills needed to help the client.

Above everything else a counsellor will offer a client a safe, comfortable and confidential environment. A place where a client can relax and talk about their innermost fears and feelings. They will be skilled in building an atmosphere where the client is able to talk possibly as they have never been able to talk before.

It is said that Rome was not built-in a day and just like Rome, there is no magic silver bullet. A client may have a problem that is deep-seated and may have foundations from their childhood. No counsellor will ever offer over-night success. But, what they will also never do is to just keep a client returning when there is no need.

Although appearing to establish a friendship a counsellor will never build a personal relationship with a client. There will always be a boundary which can never be crossed. A client is to walk away with an enhanced self-image and a feeling of well-being not a growing social circle.

Everyone should seek to find out as much as possible about the counsellor. This can go as far as seeking their qualifications and training by way of the Internet. It is quite common for a counsellor to invite a client to ask questions of them. This is a first stage to establishing a therapeutic alliance. Some counsellors will give the client a questionnaire. The client should not be shy in doing the same in reverse.

As stated at the start of this article unfortunately in the main there are no legal requirements before a person can call themselves a counsellor. But, you would not go to a garage if your television had broken down. So you should never accept a counsellor at face value. Unless they are able to prove through their training their ability to offer to help people. At a time when it is perhaps their darkest hour of need.

David Dutch, although not a counsellor, he's been involved with professional counselling for the last 7 years through the European Association for Counselling (EAC). He writes articles, technical documents and carries out research for their website at http://eac.eu.com. EAC has a growing representation throughout Europe seeking to raise the professional profile of counselling in European Countries. Questions can be raised to webmaster@eac.eu.com or by visiting the comment section of the EAC website.

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