What is Psychological Counselling?

Definition of Professional Counselling

Professional counselling is a safe and confidential* collaboration (therapeutic relationship) between qualified counsellors and clients to promote mental health and wellbeing, enhance self-understanding, and resolve identified concerns. Clients are active participants in the counselling process at every stage.

* Confidentiality is limited when there are risks to the safety of the client or others.

Counsellors work with children, young people, adults, couples, families and groups.

Counselling may be short term, long term, or over a lifetime, according to clients’ needs.

Counsellors are fully present with their clients, using empathy and deep listening to establish positive working relationships. Counselling is effective when clients feel safe, understood, respected, and accepted without judgement.

Counselling is a profession with a strong evidence base. Counsellors use empirically supported interventions and specialised interpersonal skills to facilitate change and empower clients.

Counsellors are trained in a range of modalities to work with clients from diverse backgrounds.

Counselling can be broad or focused. Clients may explore: aspects of identity, spirituality, relationships with self and others, past experiences, parenting, grief and loss, trauma, domestic violence, child abuse, use of alcohol and other substances, depression, anxiety, and other  stressful or unusual experiences.

Changes facilitated by counselling include: change in perspective, new insight, new ways of thinking about situations, new awareness of feelings, enhanced capacity to tolerate and regulate feelings, new actions or behaviours, and new decisions about life.

Professional counsellors usually have completed an undergraduate or postgraduate counselling qualification. They are expected to participate in ongoing professional development and supervision, including their own counselling, to stay current with developments in their profession and to ensure safe, ethical practice.

Goals of Professional Counselling

The goal of counselling is to help individuals overcome many of their present & future problems. In recent times, rapid social change coupled with increasing levels of competition and stress caused by industrialization and urbanization has led to varied and perplexing problems. For most people the pace of change and the resultant unhealthy modern lifestyle is simply too fast and stressful and creates serious problems of adjustment.

The professional counsellor should be able to address a variety of problems, such as educational, vocational, marital, parental, and personal. The major objective of counselling is to help individuals become self-confident, self-dependant, self-directed and to adjust themselves efficiently to the demands of a better and meaningful life. Individuals are provided assistance to enhance their personal, social, emotional and intellectual development (and at times even their spiritual development).

How does Counselling help?

Counselling is an effective way for people who are having problems that they can’t handle, can’t control, or just don’t know how to deal with, to find help from a trained or professional counsellor. There are many types of counselling. It is dealt with talk therapy. A person goes to a counselor because he/she can’t find the answers to a problem. A counsellor will actively listen to the problem(s) and ask probing questions to get at a deeper level of what is really going on. The therapist will then either explore with you ways that you can change your thinking and attitudes about the issue(s) or teach you coping skills or skills so that you can correct this concern on your own.

40 Different Types of Professional Counsellors:

Academic Counsellor
Addiction Counsellor
Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counsellor
Anger Management Counsellor
Behavioral Counsellor
Bereavement (or Grief) Counsellor
Career Counsellor
Career Development Counsellor
Certified Couples Counsellor
Chemical Dependency Counsellor
Child Counsellor
Child Abuse Counsellor
Depression Counsellor
Domestic Violence Counsellor
Eating Disorder Counsellor
Educational Counsellor
Elementary School Counsellor
Family Counsellor
Forensic Counsellor
Genetic Counsellor
Grief (or Bereavement) Counsellor
Guidance Counsellor
Health Counsellor
High School Career Counsellor
Holistic Health Counsellor
Juvenile Counsellor
Juvenile Justice Counsellor
Marriage Counsellor
Mental Health Counsellor
Military Counsellor
Nutritional Counsellor
Vocational Counsellor
Prison Counsellor
Relationship Counsellor
Rehabilitation Counsellor
Spiritual (or Pastoral) Counsellor
Sports Counsellor
Trauma Counsellor
Youth (Teen or Adolescent) Counsellor
Veterans Counsellor
Wellness Counsellor

What is the difference between counselling and therapy?

We will be using the words counselling and therapy interchangeably. There are many different kinds of counselling such as career counselling, suicide counseling, family counselling, or debt counseling, etc. There are also many types of therapy like physical therapy, psychotherapy, gene therapy. We will be talking about the psychological types of counselling and therapy (often called “psychotherapy”).

How can it help me?

Therapy can help alleviate emotional pain and suffering. It can teach you new skills with which you can successfully deal with the problems at hand. It can save a marriage. It can help increase your self esteem. It can give you hope that there is a better way, or a way out. It can do all these things and more. The only thing it can’t do is change you. You have to do that by yourself. You have to take the skills or new ideas and put them into practice in your life. We continually tell our clients that unless they take what they learned and put it into practice out in the world, counselling will do them no good.

What does successful counselling look and feel like?

Successful counselling feels like something has changed, something is different. You feel more hope and self-confidence which in turn makes you feels more in control of your life and you emotional relationships. You are trying out new behaviors and they are working. The way successful therapy looks is other people begin to comment that something about you seems different. Maybe they don’t know what has changed in you, but you feel better to be around. You will also notice that you are having different results from actions that in the past would not have gone so well. In the end, you will always be the one to make the decision about whether therapy has been successful or not.

What do I do if it’s not helping?

The first thing you do is tell your counsellor. Explain what is not working and why. Discuss things that have worked in the past. If the counsellor gets defensive it may be time to look for someone else. But it is important to reflect on what your therapist says. The reason we need counselling from time to time is that we can’t see our self-defeating or negative thoughts or behaviors and it sometimes takes an impartial observer to point out to us what is obvious to others.

How do I know when I am done?

You will feel done. Most of the concerns and anxiety that brought you into therapy will have dissipated. You will have learned coping skills and new behaviors to deal with any issues that may persist. Your therapist should be able to give you feedback about your decision and discuss whether or not they feel you are ready to terminate. Ultimately the decision is in your hands.