Characteristics of Counseling
Richard Nelson Jones (2000) described the following essential features of counseling
It is a relationship:
the success of the counseling depends on the quality of the relationship offered to the client. Carl Rogers (1961) identified three essential characteristics effective helping relationship as unconditional positive regard, genuineness and a sensitive understanding of the clients’ thoughts and feelings (empathy).
It involves a repertoire of skills:
the counselor uses a wide range of skills while dealing with clients of varied needs and clients from different stages of the life span. The skills are selectively deployed by the counselor depending on the needs and readiness of the clients.
It emphasizes self help:
the helping process gives emphasis to help clients to help themselves. The notion of personal responsibility is at the heart of the processes of effective helping and self help.
It emphasizes Choice:
the ultimate responsibility of the client is to choose for their life. The helping processes facilitate the client to choose among the possibilities. The effectiveness of helping depends on the process of equipping the client to choose a better choice.
It focuses on Problems of living:
the helping is focused on dealing with normative and non-normative life tasks of individuals. The normative tasks are normal life tasks related to transitions in life span and work and family situations. For example becoming an adolescent, promotion in a job, getting married etc are normative life tasks. Non-normative life tasks are situations in life which are not normal for all individuals. Those tasks include accidents, loss of job, birth of a disabled child etc. the counseling interventions addresses both normative and non-normative life tasks.
It is a process:
the word process denotes movement, flow and the interaction of at least two people in which each is being influenced by the behavior of the other. The counseling is a process of counselor and client influencing each other. Drawing from the above six characteristics Richard Nelson-Jones (2000) has defined counseling as: “Counseling and helping is a process whose aim is to help clients, who are mainly seen outside medical settings, to help themselves by making better choices and by becoming better choosers. The helper’s repertoire of skills includes those of forming an understanding relationship, as well as interventions focused on helping clients change specific aspects of their feeling, thinking and acting”. From the above cited descriptions and definitions we may conclude that
Counseling is :
- Client-centered — specific to the needs, issues and circumstances of
each individual client.
- An interactive, collaborative and respectful process.
- Directed towards developing autonomy and self-responsibility in clients.
- Considerate of interpersonal situation, social/cultural context, readiness to change.
- Asking questions, eliciting information, reviewing options and developing
Counseling is not…
- Telling or directing.
- Giving advice.
- A conversation.
- An interrogation.
- A confession.