Self Help

Let’s Understand the Counselling Process


In today’s generation, people are facing more life challenges, than before with a lesser support system. People are more focused on what they lack instead of what they have. This is creating a difficult situation in living a happy and contented life. When life satisfaction or situations become intolerable for the person they opt for Counselling.

What is counseling?

Counseling is a voluntary relationship between two people. Where one person is ready to seek help and another person is ready to provide help. It is a structured process where the client can feel and perform better in their life. People visit counselors for many reasons such as because of a breakup, the loss of a loved one, or difficult life challenges. The core of all the reasons is Emotional disturbance. Which is not letting the person function or feel well in day-to-day life.

Emotional Disturbance:

ED means a condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over a period of time and to a marked degree that adversely affects an individual’s personal, professional, and social life.

  • An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or physical health.
  • Inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships.
  • Inappropriate types of behavior or feeling under normal circumstances.
  • A general pervasive mood of unhappiness.
  • A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fear which does not have any biological significance.
How Does Emotional Disturbance Affect Human Response?
  • Emotional response: difficulty in balancing emotions. They either respond too much or too less.
  • Laughs cries, or becomes very angry without apparent cause at times when others show different reactions.
  • Daydreams: often sit with a vacant expression doing nothing productive.
  • Looks unhappy almost all the time without regard to circumstances.
  • Acts impulsive and shows poor judgment: does not consider or understand the consequence of one’s behavior.
  • Repeatedly engages in a fight or misunderstanding.
  • Cannot work with others cooperatively
  • Difficulty in making or keeping relationships.
  • Fearful in new situations, unwilling to attempt new tasks.
  • Shows extreme negative reaction to minor failures

Understanding the Source of Emotional Disturbance

As an individual, a person has two types of self.

  1. Ideal Self: What the person wants to be or desires.
  2. Real Self: What the person is in reality at the present moment.

The more the distance these two self the higher the level of emotional difference. The difference between these two selves creates incongruence.

The counseling process provides strength to the individual to become closer to their ideal self and if they have an irrational ideal self then bring change in them. A person is said to be in a state of incongruence if some of the totality of his/her experience is unacceptable to the ideal self and is denied or distorted in the self-image.

How to These Ideal and Real Selves of the Client in the Counselling Process:

In Counselling, we have to find out these two selves of the client.

  • The real self can be found by questioning about client’s present situation and collecting background information.
  • The ideal self can be found in the stage of rapport building by asking hypothetical questions and discussing about client’s

Expectations from the counseling process. Examples of some hypothetical questions are:

  1. What will be your most memorable moment in life?
  2. If you get one thing to change in your life, what will you change?
  3. What do you want to be if you get a superpower?
Factors Affecting Ideal Self
  • What did our parents teach us?
  • What do we admire?
  • What does society promote?
  • What do we think is in our best interest?
Incongruence leads to unrealistic perception of reality

“If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail-Abraham Maslow”.
State of incongruence affects our perception and defense mechanism plays a main role in this process. Such as Denial, reaction formation, and projection, direct a person’s everyday behavior in such situations.

How to work on this unrealistic perception of self:

Catharsis can help the counselor to know the reason behind a person’s unrealistic perception. Catharsis means, “The purification and purgation of emotion (especially pity and fear) primarily through art.”

The release of stored negative emotions has positive healing effects on our minds and bodies, as they occur.

Different therapies for catharsis
  1. Movement therapy
  2. Art therapy
  3. Writing as therapy
  4. Music therapy

While the person is doing catharsis counsellor has to understand his perception with empathy.

Understanding Empathy:

Ability to imagine how another person feels and understand his/her mood. Or “To feel empathy for someone, you understand how they feel by putting yourself in their shoes.”

Unconditional Positive regards:

Accepting the client as a human being and not judging his actions. Also, let the client be who they are. For this counselor has to clear his or her own prejudices and perceptions.

Therapeutic alliance: While the client shares his pain, loss, or fear, the counselor understands him with empathy this process decides the level of the therapeutic alliance. The better the relationship the more chances of meeting the objective of counseling.

Impact of Individual Differences in the Counselling Process:

Individual differences play an important role. The same method will not work for every client. Individual differences can be on the basis of-

Locus of control: Locus of control decides a person’s thought process and behavior.

Types of locus of control:
  1. Internal Locus of Control: Such individual believes their actions directly influence the outcomes.
  2. External Locus of Control: Such individual believe that their actions do not directly influence the outcomes.

Ability to mentally or emotionally cope with a crisis or to return to pre-crisis status quickly. Resilience exists when the person uses “mental processes and behaviors in promoting personal assets and protecting self from the potential negative effects of stressors.” Each client has a different level of resilience hence before planning, an intervention, a counsellor must consider their level of resilience.

Emotional quotient:
  1. Self-awareness: knowing what you feel and what your feeling means.
  2. Self-regulation: understanding your emotions is being in control of them.
  3. Motivation: high-quality standards for themselves and others.
  4. Empathy.
  5. Social skills: Good social skills are good communication, both in the sense of translating ideas to their team and listening to their needs and complaints. This can provide a better picture of the client’s strengths and weaknesses.
Decision-making skills:

the objective of the counseling process is to make a person emotionally independent. Better decision-making skills make this possible. A counselor cannot provide advice. To make better decisions person has to understand all the pros and cons of the solution in calculation with their strength.

“Wishing will not change anything but actions will.”

Irrational beliefs:

Irrational belief is about willing to achieve something that is practically hard or impossible to get.

  • I must do well and get the approval of everybody who matters to me or I will be a worthless person.
  • Other people must treat me kindly and fairly or else they are bad.
  • I must have an easy, enjoyable life or I cannot enjoy living at all.
  • All the people who matter to me must love me and approve me or it will be awful.
  • I must be a high achiever or I will be worthless.
  • Nobody should ever behave badly and if they do, I should condemn them.
  • I must not be frustrated in getting what I want and if I am it will be terrible.
  • When things and I am under pressure I must be miserable and there is nothing I can do about this.
  • When faced with the possibility of something frightening or dangerous happening to me I must obsess about it and make frantic efforts to avoid it.
  • I can avoid my responsibilities and deal with life’s difficulties and still be fulfilled.
  • My past is the most important part of my life, it will keep on dictating how I feel and what I do.
  • Everybody and everything should be better than they are and, if they’re not it’s awful.
  • I can be as happy as possible by doing as little as I can and by just enjoying myself.
  • Avoid words such as must, always, never, if I don’t and I am worthless.
Rational belief:
  • It is not possible for everyone to love and approve of us. It is better to cultivate our own values, social skills, and compatible friendships, rather than worry about pleasing everyone. (If you think that what another person will think?)
  • No one is perfect.
  • No matter how evil an act is, there are reasons for it. Being tolerant to past behavior does not mean we will refuse to help the person change who has done wrong.
  • The universe was not created for our pleasure. If changes aren’t possible, accept and forget. (accepting reality)
  • It is not external events, but our views, our self-talk, and our beliefs about those events that upset us.
  • There is a great difference between dreadful ruminations about what awful things might happen and thinking about how to prevent, minimize, or cope with real potential problems. (automatic thoughts)
  • Procrastination, avoidance of unpleasant tasks, and denial of problems can give immediate relief, but, later on, results in serious problems, facing and solving tough problems. (Every stage of life needs others.)
  • People are dependent on others, e.g. for food, work, etc. But no one needs to be dependent on one specific person in fact, it is foolish. (don’t make people your life, make them a beautiful part of your life)
  • You can’t change the past, but you can learn from it. (Live, learn, laugh, and live in the present)
  • It is not helpful and may be harmful to become overly distraught and highly worried about other people’s problems. (god help those who help themselves)
  • Shift from a hopeless “I can’t change” attitude to a “self-help” attitude.
  • Perfection is not the goal.

Cognitive restructuring:

Once the irrational belief is figured out counselor helps the client in exchange for a more realistic one. This process allows the person to see the situation from a new angle. What seemed unbearable or painful before seems better to handle now.

Termination: when the objective of the counselling process is met client and counsellor can terminate the session with mutual consent.

The counseling process is different for different individuals. But the objective is the same to help the client develop better coping strategies.

Read out some interesting books on counseling:
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