Counseling can be a tedious job; it requires tremendous dedication and efforts. A counselor must have good communication and listening skills. A counselor must at all times abide to ethical principles when dealing with their clients. Most of the counselors have a diploma specializing in counseling or a master’s degree in counseling psychology. A counselor usually works in schools, universities, government or private sector firms and institutions like NGOs, coaching centers and so on. It is considered compulsory to have a counselor in schools, the reason being an increase in suicidal tendencies, alcohol and drug abuse, and overall stress among young children. Counselors also deal with resolving conflicts among couples, provide career guidance to students; they also handle workaholics and people having social or emotional issues. Some examples of counselors include academic counselors, educational counselors, guidance counselors, school counselors and student counselors.
Debriefing the client before beginning with the session is very necessary as the client must be known of all circumstances they may have to face during the counseling sessions. The counselor also debriefs them about the test that will be used for them and later assure them of their tests results and interpretation. A good history taking will enable the counselor to study in depth the client’s problems, it is always said if you conduct a good conversation with your client, the client is likely to be less anxious and nervous and confide in the counselor better. A good history taking must include the client’s personal details such as name, age, gender, qualification, socio economic background. It also includes gaining information about the clients, developmental history, school history, work history and self assessing views such as intelligence, personality, sociability, self esteem and so on.
Maintaining confidentiality requires the counselor to not share any information regarding the client with any other person. However the counselor may have to face divided loyalties, a situation where in an institution appoints you for their employees; in such a case it is considered appropriate to give only minimal information of the employee to the head of the institution. Sharing irrelevant information about the client is considered unethical. Counseling usually is done in sessions of say around 45 minutes to an hour approximately; these sessions mustn’t be too lengthy as the client may experience boredom and fatigue thus resulting in faulty wrong answers. Likewise the client must be punctual for the appointments.The client is free to express themselves and inform the counselor if they don’t like something. The counselor must see that they use tests that are appropriate to the client in terms of age, qualification, language and culture.
Counseling is a demanding but highly rewarding career. Counselors can make a profound positive difference in a person’s life.
(Contributed by Angie Pereira (post graduate student of psychology) during her Internship.)