During my years of practice, I came across individuals who are looking for a quick fix, who are skeptical about the effectiveness of counselling, who are looking for a recipe to deal with issues, or who doesn’t feel the value to pay for counselling. In fact, these thoughts are valid and understandable. However, counselling is not as simple as we wish it can be.
The term ‘Counselling’ sometimes gets people uneasy. The stigma on counselling still exists in our 21st century. Even though there have been lots of effort putting into the normalization of seeking psychological help, the society still labels it as mental ‘illness’. And it often contributes to turning stigma inward as a self-imposed stigma. The feeling of being judged, defeated, out of control, out of my mind or useless often deter the action to seek help.
Counselling is a facilitative process where a counsellor provides a safe, confidential, and non-judgmental environment for the individual to talk about the challenges and struggles that are affecting them. This process can take months or sometimes years for an individual to come to terms with who they are, making connections with their past, realizing, and accepting their strengths or being unstuck with their struggling situations. Often, issue is built up through years of not noticing it or ignoring it or enduring it. If it takes years to build the issue, how would it be possible to solve it in days?
Every individual is unique, and so does their issue. As everyone of us is so unique with our family history, cultural background, childhood bring up, experiences in life and so much more, there is no ‘one size fits all’ and no ‘recipe’ to work that out. Through counselling, each individual will have their own treatment plan to work on their struggles and celebrate their successes.
Some people deter going to seek therapeutic help because there is a fee attached to it. As many services provided out in the community, for example massage therapy, chiropractor, dental service…, all come with a cost, so does counselling service. When we are not physically well, we are willing to pay big bucks to get help and be cured, then how about your mental health? Is it that our mental health is valued as much as our physical health, to get help and be healed?
So, does counselling help? It works when both counsellor and client are committed in the process. Some contributor factors to an effective counselling includes:
Counsellor: Is the counsellor empathetic, has positive regard for the client, non-judgmental, acceptance? Does the counsellor have the expertise to deal with specific issues? Is the counsellor having a continuing concern for improving their ability in a discipline that is both science and art?
Client: Does the client have realistic and positive expectation and faith in the counselling process? Is the client engaged in the counselling process? Is the client open for change?
Environment: Where does the counselling take place? Is it confidential and private? Is the place comfortable?
Process: Is the approach right for the client? Do the client and counsellor able to build their trustful relationship? Is the client willing to explore other factors of the problem? Is there the interest of learning new ways of thinking and acting as well as ongoing practice?
“When solving problems, dig at the roots instead of just hacking at the leaves.”
Anthony J. D’Angelo