Counselling is a broad area that can be difficult to briefly define. For instance, regarding counsellors, there is a broad range of approaches, backgrounds, and personalities. Similarly, clients, and their reasons to attend counselling, vary too. Often people attend counselling to talk about a specific issue or issues (e.g., grief, depression, anxiety, identity, relationship, or trauma) or an issue that’s vague yet comes with the strong feeling that things “aren’t quite right”.
Client is Primary
Ideally, counselling proceeds at a pace and through terrain that suits the client; after all, the client is primary. Counselling is a safe place for the client to be vulnerable yet safe, to explore yet be secure, to be open yet not judged, and to be free and accepted.
Counselling is a process whereby clients can explore and gain better understanding of their own thoughts, feelings, beliefs, values, etc.; a space to be heard in a non-judgemental, confidential, and patient way and to be supported and understood by a knowledgeable professional. The aims are to grow, to gain insights, to create (better) ways to cope, to adapt behaviours, to see choices, to increase control, to find direction, to feel better, to improve life.
Counselling ought to be, and mainly is, a positive experience for the client (and counsellor), ultimately hinging on how well the client and counsellor connect and their work flows, being genuine and trusting of the process, and being willing to continue the work inside and outside of the therapy room. Naturally, clients’ experiences vary—and gains can be immediate or gradual, lifelong or brief, huge or minimal—but when it works, it is profound and life-enhancing!
Past, Now, Future
Counselling can focus on the past, present, and/or future depending on clients’ issues, needs, goals, or preferences. Counselling can help clients to focus on the past to gain closure and/or understanding of what occurred in their life; it can focus on clients’ current situation and how better to improve it or accept it; it can focus on the future with the aims to achieving certain goals. Counselling helps to give clarity and to review where we were, are, and going in our own life.