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Counsellors are leading the way in supporting people with their mental health challenges

Photo: Counsellors are leading the way in supporting people with their mental health ch....
Kris Rao discusses the important role of counselling in today’s society.

Counselling today provides clients with a wide range of options for addressing and resolving specific problems, making decisions, coping with crisis, working through feelings or inner conflicts, or perhaps improving relationships with others. The process is a skilled and principled use of therapeutic relationship to assist client to develop self-knowledge, emotional acceptance and growth. The counsellor facilitates the client’s growth by respecting the client’s values, personal resources and capacity for self-determination.

Why do people attend counselling?

Most people experience crises or problems in their lives that impact on them emotionally and require resolution in order for them to be able to make the most of their lives. For some people these problems of living are too difficult to address on their own; they may not have supportive friends or family to turn to or they do not want to impact on friendships and family by revealing personal and intimate information and/or vulnerabilities.
Counselling provides an opportunity for a person to safely discuss extremely personal matters with someone who can help them find resolutions or gain acceptance in coping with the difficulties that can arise in their life.

"The counselling process involves a relationship between two or more people in which therapeutic change can occur"

The Counselling process essentially involves:
  • a relationship between two or more people
  • a process by which effective communication and therapeutic change can occur
  • counselling skills that enhance communication and enable resolutions to occur
  • counselling tools that enable the counsellor to assess, support and help the client develop new ways of thinking and being.

What happens when one person approaches another for help?

The Client

Clients come to a counsellor with certain expectations. They attend to relieve emotional pain or the physical experience that is associated with emotional pain. They may also want to attain understanding of a personal matter, find resolutions to problems and/or reach goals. They often have expectations of what the counsellor can do for them – these may be realistic or unrealistic.

The Counsellor

The counsellor comes to the counselling session with knowledge, experience and skills that enable the counselling relationship and therapeutic change to be effective.  A counsellor role is that of a skilled helper who provides a physical, psychological and emotional environment that can help the client feel better.  A space in which trust can occur and the client can be open about their issues or concerns is created by the counsellor. This enables the client to feel better and to have more effective coping and problem-solving skills that bring about and maintain long-term change.  This includes enabling clients to be self-reliant and empowered to cope, and ultimately achieve change confidently and independently of the counsellor.

"A counsellor role is that of a skilled helper who provides a physical, psychological and emotional environment that can help the client feel better"

The counselling relationship

Counselling is foremost a relationship between two people. It is a special relationship that has a specific purpose: to help the client to have a more fulfilling life. The counselling relationship is a working alliance between two (or more) people where specific skills and tools help to build the relationship and enable effective outcomes for the client. It is a space expression where each person has a specific role and there are specific purposes and goals attributed to the process. The process involves making personal contact that includes being with and communicating with the client emotionally. This act of emotionally connecting enables intimacy, which initially requires an element of trust and openness. There are also rules or boundaries in place to maintain and support the counsellor’s and client’s roles, and the sanctity of the professional relationship.  This defines the counselling relationship as opposed to another relationship; for example, that of a family member, friend or colleague.

Evidence of effectiveness

There is clear evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of counselling in treating a range of mental issues. Several studies have shown that clients who receive therapy tend to improve more over time.

"There is clear evidence demonstrating effectiveness of counselling in treating a range of mental issues."

Counselling in Australia

Counselling has proven to be popular with many people and the counselling profession is growing in Australia. Currently, there are approximately 8,000 registered counsellors in Australia who provide services to the public and the demand for accredited training is growing. Today, JNI (Jansen Newman Institute) and Torrens University Australia, along with other higher education providers deliver programs of all levels to bridge the demand. JNI offers a practice focused Master of Counselling and Applied Psychotherapy degree with a strong applied and theoretical focus on evidence-based psychological theories, human and emotional development, personal development, counselling skills development, research, ethics and law, group functioning, clinical work placement and supervision. The nested awards of the Graduate Certificate in Counselling and the Graduate Diploma of Counselling, whilst standalone qualifications, also provide pathways into the Masters course. Torrens University Australia offers a Diploma of Counselling and Communication Skills for those interested in professional development. Training to become a counsellor is a rich and rewarding experience as you develop into a professional with a meaningful career.

"A career counselling is more valuable now than ever before."

Kris Rao MAppSocSci (Counselling), MSMed (Psychotherapy) is a clinical lecturer and supervisor at Jansen Newman Institute.  He is also in private practice with expertise in trauma, anxiety, addictions and personality disorders.

Interested in enhancing your career? Find out how you can do it with a Master of Counselling and Applied Psychotherapy with Jansen Newman Institute, or have a look at all the Counselling and Community courses we have available here.

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