Human to make”, while Hahn and MacLean (1955, p.6.)

Human beings are
different from other animals in many ways, but perhaps the most profound
difference among all is our ability to think and be self-aware of our thoughts,
actions, emotions and society. This aberration of a conscious human existence
in this civilized world among other humans can often times result in problems
with our behaviour and emotions that can hamper a peaceful existence in harmony
with the society. Since the inception of first psychological thoughts by
philosopher Hippocrates, our knowledge and understanding of how the human mind
works has drastically evolved. Unlike ancient times when any sort of ailment
concerning the human mind was neglected and downtrodden, today scientists are
able to study, understand and overcome many psychological disorders and mental
issues through humane tactics that do not require any sort of invasive or
painful procedures. Counselling is one such method of talk therapy that allow
any individual to approach a counsellor and talk about their problem, and if
possible, come up with a mutually agreeable solution for issues that might be
interfering with an individual’s normal day to day functioning in a safe and confidential
environment. (What is counselling, n.d.)

            According to G.E. Smith (1955, p. 56.), “Counselling is a process in which the
counsellor assists the counselee to make interpretations of facts relating to a
choice, plan, or adjustments which he needs to make”, while Hahn and
MacLean (1955, p.6.) describes
counselling as “a process which takes place in a one to one relationship
between an individual beset by problems with which he cannot cope alone and a
professional worker whose training and experience have qualified him to help
others find solutions to various types of personal difficulties”. Irrespective
of the reasons for its necessity, counselling can be conducted in numerous
different ways to help the client be at ease. It can be a telephonic session,
or one on one personal session, group sessions or even online sessions, thanks
to the world-wide-web.

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individual may approach a counsellor for various different issues and
conditions such as addiction, mental illness, trauma, relationship issues,
anxiety, depression and etc. which is precisely where the rigorous professional
qualification that every counsellor has to go through comes into the picture. A
counsellor spends years studying various kinds of counselling such as Cognitive
Behavioural Therapy, Music Therapy, Aversion Therapy, talk therapy and etc.,
its benefits, shortcomings, strategies and objective interpretations of
individual responses and physical markers that help the counsellor accurately
recognize and solve issues through intensive practice and imitation. (What is
counselling, n.d.)

            Just as there are stages to how a
wound heals itself over time, there are stages to how an individual comes to
terms with their issues and or problems and it takes time. Generally during the
first sessions the counsellor establishes a relationship with their client and
build rapport so the client can feel more comfortable at the counsellor’s
presence that facilitates trust building and enables the client to share their
issues with the counsellor without any hesitations. This stage is very crucial
as it essentially determines the outcome of the whole counselling process. This
first stage of counselling is often termed “Initial Disclosure” where the counsellor gets to know the client
and vice versa, as well as take down basic details of the problem for which the
client has approached a counsellor. It is also the subject of this experiment
which in essence is a process to take the client’s case history such as family
background, previous medical conditions, and previous counselling sessions, as
well as to alleviate fear and inherent inhibitions that intervenes in self-disclosure.
At this stage the counsellor should keep in mind to take consent from the
client to disclose the session information to someone of their choice, if the
client displays signs or symptoms that he/she might harm themselves or someone
else. Moreover, there are certain characteristic traits that the counsellor
should adhere to during the initially fragile state such as being empathetic
towards the client’s problems, being genuine and trustable, being positive and
caring at all-time throughout the sessions, irrespective of the client’s mood,
attitude or self-esteem as well maintaining clear, crisp communication with the
client. (Egan, 2002)

            The second stage in counselling is termed “In-Depth Exploration” which is all
about talking with the client freely and discuss all issues and try to
understand them. This is the stage in which the counsellor encourages objective
thinking and interpretation to view the issues about their life in a much less
emotional manner so the client can understand their own life and the situations
they are in and along with the help of counsellor, look for options and ways in
which these issues can be resolved. This stage is a little more stable for the
client and thus the client can be more open and trusting towards the counsellor
if everything in the initial stage of disclosure went fine. The counsellor in
this stage however needs to take care to be empathetic and respond accordingly to incorporate the information
obtained in previous sessions to reassure the client that the counsellor is
attentive and genuinely cares for the client which further establishes a deeper
level of trust that enables even deeper exploration for future sessions.
Another important part of the second stage of counselling is immediacy which effectively refers to
the counsellor’s ability to address the progress of the counselling sessions
and its effectiveness as well as the clients reactions to the counsellor’s
statements that might have caused the client to withdraw or divert from the
topic which can indicate certain psychological issues, that needs to be
explored in a deeper manner to fully understand. The second stage of counselling
can sometimes be emotionally overwhelming for the client because the client has
to come to terms with several things about themselves which is not very
comfortable to face or accept. This might often tempt the client to withdraw
out of anxiety and fear which is where empathetic responses on the counsellor’s
part helps. The counsellor achieves this in numerous ways, for instance the
counsellor might share their own experiences that helps the client gain a
deeper level of trust with the counsellor. Following these, the second stage
generally involves the client and the counsellor working together in unity to
accurately assess the issues/problems incorporating and considering all the
information, data and observations that have been established so far in
previous sessions. Accurate assessment often also relies on external sources
other than the client such as standardized tests, information from close
friends, family, colleagues and often times, also observation of the client in
their natural environment all of which together offer a much vivid picture of
the client’s current behaviour and past history.

            Once the issues or problems of the client are identified,
the counsellor and the client can move onto the third stage of counselling
which is called the ‘Commitment to Action”. In this stage the client and the
counsellor together talk about options in strategies and methods through which
the client’s issues can be resolved in short term as well as in the long term. The
resolution can be methods that has been proven to be effective in the past or
something that the client wants to try. It is imperative to remember that a
counsellor at any stage should not give solutions but rather options that the
client can choose from which not only gives the client a feeling of freedom,
but also makes the client more receptive and susceptible to choosing one of the
options. Oftentimes with clients who have been through counselling before and
has failed to make any of the traditional therapies available in the DSM to
work, the counsellor can talk with the client to come up with newer methods and
strategies to try out. (Egan, 2002)

            Apart from sticking to the stages of counselling, a
counsellor should also be mindful enough and adhere to the ethics and codes of
conduct in counselling. For starters, a counsellor should be respectful of the client’s privacy, confidentiality, autonomy and self-determination.
A counsellor should not at any point force or coerce the client to divulge any
information that they do not want to disclose. Secondly, a client should
maintain competence and constantly
keep themselves updated to the ethics and codes of conduct at all point
throughout their careers. Thirdly, a counsellor should be responsible for their actions, expressions and behaviour at all
times during counselling and adopt a very systematic approach to resolving
ethical dilemmas that may arise. Such behaviour and responsible nature on the
counsellor’s part makes it possible for a client to perceive the counsellor as
a trustworthy, reputable, understanding and responsible individual which
ensures smooth counselling transition throughout all four stages of
counselling. Finally, the counsellor should subject themselves to strict integrity and principles to make sure
that they are objective, fair, honest, and straightforward and doesn’t resort
to unethical actions such as exploitation, extortion, blackmail and etc. which
becomes excessively easier in professions like these. A counsellor should be
adept at recognizing conflict of interests and accordingly avoid making
decisions that might disrupt their integrity and professionalism. (Code of
Ethics, 2017)