It is not a few times that I felt challenged to meet the high demands of getting involved in the process of professional counseling. The significant level of interpersonal relationship that is expected to exist between someone actively seeking help and myself sometimes startle me.
For me, there is a great amount of technicality with regards to the concept of ‘actively seeking help’. Nevertheless, I have come to consider this idea to include anything that the world -be client says or does, or both, that gives you a clue that he or she wants some form of psychological assistance. Their cry for help, then, may be either verbal or non-verbal.
The helper is expected to be capable of helping. There seems to be a fairly high degree of subjectivity where this is concerned because subjectivity is likely to be related to the way you describe your approach to helping as well as the way another counselor perceives and describes you. Everyone tends to believe that he or she is the best judge of who they are. Even the client is said to be the expert on their own life. Therefore the question of ‘capable of helping’ is quite a tricky one.
Though I firmly subscribe to training, when I recognize the ratio of trained helpers to untrained helpers, there seems to be a hopeless situation. Perhaps this is the reason that so many untrained helpers are blooming everywhere.
If there is a specific setting and time for counseling to be given and received we can envision also the issues of limitations because it is not a few times that people are just about ready at the moment that they approach you. To delay the process then, may be risking the loss of the psychological moment.
The process of counseling is directed toward people who experience difficulties as they live through the normal stages of the life-span development. It is a process that insists upon the necessity of viewing clients as basically healthy individuals whose problems are essentially developmental in nature.
The nature of counseling is so multi-dimensional, having to deal with human feelings, thoughts and behaviours, and with the past, present and future which incorporates a process that has a series of sequential steps, involving confronting inconsistencies in the clients’ thoughts, language and behaviours, challenging assumptions that are inappropriate, self-destructive or irrational, uncovering hidden and unconscious motives behind actions, encouraging people to accept more responsibility for their choices and actions, helping clients to develop more options for their lives and to narrowing alternatives to those that are most suitable. There is need to provide constructive feedback, structuring opportunities for practicing new ways of acting and being and facilitating greater independence in the client, so that counselling ends in the most efficient period of time.
I am personally inclined towards Carl Rogers Approach to psychotherapy. Sometimes the bar seems quite high. However, with such great challenges involved in our working towards helping others, let us also work towards keeping ourselves in the best possible health-physically, socially, emotionally, spiritually and intellectually.
Anderson Antoine is a counselor from Trinidad and Tobago. He lectures at the University of the Southern Caribbean, and owns the company ‘Anderson Antoine and Associates Professional Counseling Services’. At present he is deeply engaged in writing poetry.