What is Not Counseling?

M A Psychology,
Training Head
@Islaah Center for Psychological Wellness

In General, there are a lot of misconceptions about counseling. People have a lot of preconceived notions about what counseling actually is? We have heard a lot of teachers saying that they often counsel their students. Doctor’s claim they provide counseling for patients undergoing treatment for major health conditions. We tend to believe that a person who has seen a lot of up’s and down’s in life can provide a great deal of knowledge and strategies to deal with a situation based on his experiences. It is not a “one size fits all” kind of deal. The reality of the fact is counseling cannot be provided by anyone and everyone. It is also believed that counseling is only for the CRAZY people. These myths stop people from seeking professional help. Counseling is different from talking to your family and friends and taking their advice. When someone is going through a rough phase in life they are often told by people close to them to go for a vacation or treat themselves with something good to get over it. You think this will really help them in getting over it altogether? It may provide temporary comfort but the problem will always come back. Talking to a person about his problems, anxiety, stress and things that bothers him and giving a few advices here and there does not constitute counseling. It is a professional service where an individual is qualified and trained to provide counseling and help a person deal with setbacks in his life.

For instance if you discuss with a friend that you are not happy with your job and the stress related to it ,chances are that your friend will advise you to change your job. Whereas in counseling you are not told what to do, instead you are guided to find solutions on your own measuring the pros and cons. Counseling also empowers you to overcome challenging situations in the future as well. Counseling is a confidential, non-judgmental and unbiased practice where you can share your feelings and thoughts. It doesn’t give you instant solutions and is not a quick fix, rather helps you in identifying the factors contributing to the stressful situation and learning new behaviors and techniques to overcome them.

Most people also believe that counseling is an hour long talking to a silent individual (Counselor) who in the end of the session will give his verdict on what you did right, what went wrong and what you should be doing to get a desired outcome. Contrary to this counseling is a collaborative and interactive session between a client and a counselor where both work towards achieving set goals of the client. The counselor may suggest behaviors or actions, however it totally depends on you whether or not you would want to implement them.