What Is Counselling? How Does Counselling Work?

I’ve written a few blogs now, and it has just dawned on me that I haven’t written the fundamentals of what I do. That is – what is counselling? And how does counselling work? Read on to find out.

What is counselling?

According to APA (American Psychology Association), counselling involves a counsellor building a professional relationship with the client that is confidential, collaborative, and goal oriented.

What does that mean anyway? 

It means that when you are faced with stressful events in life—which ranges from work stress, exam stress, romantic relationship conflict (for example boyfriend and girlfriend, husband and wife etc), divorce, breakups, familial relationship conflict (for example, mother-daughter relationship etc), anger management, grief (example, grieving for someone you lost, grieving for the end of a relationship etc), depression, anxiety, dealing with monumental emotional stress with dealing with infertility related challenges, past childhood trauma (something that happened in your childhood that has troubled you ), trauma and many more that were not mentioned—basically, anything that troubles you and disrupts your daily functioning, you should see a counsellor to assuage your pain. 

A client of mine asked how is it different from talking to a friend?

That is a great question. Many of us are used to confiding with our friends when we are troubled. It’s great that you have a friend to confide with! The older we get, the harder it is to find a good friend that can lend an ear. A friend can lend you a shoulder to cry on when you need it, and give you a great sense of warmth and love. They may give you their two cents as to what you should do, and they may even criticize the person who upsetted you. 

A counsellor, on the other hand, helps you process your emotions. What does that mean? 

In the first counselling session, also known as the intake session, the counsellor will ask you questions and use active listening skills to learn what is troubling you, and what is it that you would like to achieve through the counselling process. In the subsequent sessions, they will then explore your fundamental assumptions about the world and how it is troubling you. The counsellors will then process your emotions with you using different counselling theories, skills and tools that are tailored to your troubles. The advantage of not being a friend to the client is that the counsellor can view and understand the client’s world without any biases or prejudgement, which enables the counsellor to provide better care for the client. 

How long does it take to complete the treatment?

You and your counsellor will discuss the progress of your treatment that you are making during the sessions and whether you are happy with the progress. For some, it takes 2 sessions to reach their goal, but for others, it takes months. It depends on many factors such as the severity of the matter, whether the counsellor and the client is a good fit, whether the client is practising what they learn in the counselling session in their daily lives and many more. 

One major concern about counselling is whether the information that the client shares during the session confidential.

All information shared in the counselling session is kept confidential. However, being in the business about people, the laws and ethics dictate that a counselor, who is licensed and registered with a particular board (Lembaga Kaunselor Malaysia) that governs the ethics and professionalism of the members, put people’s safety first. Therefore, if the counsellor has reasons to believe that you may be a threat to yourself or someone else. Then, confidentiality must be breached. 

In order to provide the best care for the client, counsellors may discuss the case with their peers in order to get professional opinion on how to provide better care for the client. Clients can rest assured that no names or any other information that may be traced to the client will be shared with said peers. The sole purpose of discussing the case is to provide better care for the client.

Many movies have painted counselling with a mysterious shade. Essentially, counselling is a form of talk therapy where the counsellor and client forms a professional relationship that is collaborative, confidential and goal-oriented—and you don’t have to lie on the couch to achieve your therapy goal. 

If you have any further questions, feel free to contact me.

Disclaimer: You are encouraged to use the content from this site to improve your mental health. However, this is not a substitute for professional help (be it medical and/or mental health care, treatment and/or diagnosis).

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