What is Professional Counselling?

10/08/2012 14:07

Professional counselling is an interpersonal communication when a professional - a consultant or an advisor - operates directly on the client's specific problem. Furthermore, this work is done together with a client. The consultant listens carefully to the client, asks him/her questions, and after a joint discussion of all possible solutions to the problem, the client selects the best decision for him or herself. Therein lays the fundamental difference between working with a counsellor, as opposed to a psychologist or a psychiatrist. The psychologist and psychiatrist treat mental illness, i.e., the clinical manifestations of psychological problems that make normal, everyday functioning difficult or even impossible. For example, a person may not work properly because of obsessive thoughts, fears, depression, anxiety and other pathological conditions. In such cases, the intervention of these specialists is necessary because unresolved issues may lead to more serious consequences, such as isolation, alcoholism, depression and even to murder or suicide.

It is true that there are many similarities between the work of a counsellor, a psychologist, and a psychiatrist. They are all working with the psychological problems of their clients, however, the counsellor works with people who have psychological difficulties without serious mental issues. In principle, any normally functioning person has been in a situation where they just have to share their thoughts with a neutral person, or when they have no one to discuss the problems with to make the right decision in a problematic situation. In many cases, when in a difficult situation, a person acts on intuition. They try to survive the problem, by being in anticipation of a solution by naturally occurring events, waiting for a miracle, looking for help from friends and close relatives, or looking in books, newspapers, magazines, fortune-tellers, etc.

In such situations, a conversation with a professional counsellor can be very helpful. As a professional, a counsellor will listen to the client's problems neutrally without judging or evaluating the actions and thoughts of the client. Furthermore, the consultant and the client will discuss all possible options, the consultant will recommend solutions to the problem, and then the client will choose the most appropriate path of action for them. It should be noted that all consultations are strictly confidential, and the consultant has no right to tell anyone about the problems of the client. This, in turn, means that the client can confer their thoughts and secrets to the counsellor, even in cases where it is impossible to do so with their loved ones. Sometimes just one consultation with a professional radically changes the life of the client. Although in some cases, it may take several sessions of counselling in order to understand the client's personality, his or her desires, and opportunities to resolve a specific conflict.

As an extensively trained expert with special education in the field, a counsellor can distinguish between serious mental conditions from simple personal problems, and accordingly may refer clients to a psychologist or even to a psychiatrist who may prescribe medications.

Thus, being in a quandary, the best way to solve it is to seek help from a specialist.

If you are plagued by problems, if there is nobody to discuss them with, and if you cannot find a way to get out of trouble, do not wait - come to a professional counsellor, together with whom you will find the best way to solve your particular problem.


Alex Kazmin, Registered Professional Counsellor.