What is counseling?

Edward Guyton
Social Work

What is the saying? 'Advice is cheap.' I sometimes like to tell my clients that if you want me to give advice, I would need to see into the future and that I don't do.

Obviously, there are best, better and bad choices of thinking and acting regarding any issue or concern. We might agree that it is always best to avoid harm and welcome joy and good fortune. But often what is the best way for me to think and act when, say, my boss is just plain mean might be the worst advice or COUNSEL for me to give a client. 

The focus of counseling tends to be on more matter of fact, daily life issues and PRESENTING POSSIBILITIES for the client's consideration that are tailored to that client's psychology and current needs. 

The focus of psychotherapy tends to be on THOUGHT, and BEHAVIOR. While 'counseling' may be a part of the experience the idea behind psychotherapy seems to be: if we can possess a greater understanding of ourselves perhaps we might consider uniquely different and better ways to 'look at and react to' the world around us.

The focus of psychoanalysis tends to be on the structures and functions of the UNCONSCIOUS mind - or that part of the mind that is not available to us when we are awake (or conscious) but is when we sleep. If we couldn't remember our dreams we would not have any conscious access to and therefore awareness of our unconscious thoughts (mind). 

When looking at the unconscious mind it is with a bias towards 'mending' that aspect of the mind which is problematic to the individual and inaccessible to their awareness. If this inaccessibility to the unconscious mind is the case, then only another person's conscious mind may be able to gain access to what is troubling the client.  

Supportive listening, compassion and empathy are priceless whether you are seeking counseling, psychotherapy, psychoanalysis or a good and trustworthy friend. 

Whether life’s thrown you a curve ball and you’re at your wits end, or your past is haunting you, one thing’s for certain, a counselor can help. Counselors are highly trained professionals that have a common goal – to help people. 

Here are just a few ways they can help. 

  1. Counselors help people cope with change, positive or negative. Change good or bad can lead to stress. Sometimes people need coping skills to adjust to change and counselors can with this process.
  2. Counselors can help you deal with the skeletons in your closet. If something from your past has been haunting you and it’s having a negative effect on your life, then a counselor can help you confront it. 
  3. Counselors can help you if you are suffering from an addiction. Whether your addiction is alcohol, drugs, or sex you are not alone. Counselors can help you overcome it.
  4. Are you having problems with your significant other? Oftentimes couples lack skills to work through conflict and the result is miscommunication. Counselors can help bridge the communication gap and help you learn more effective ways to express your thoughts and feelings to your partner. 
  5. Is your kid driving you over the edge and you don’t know what to do? Oftentimes as parents, we fall into a parenting trap; even though what we do doesn’t work, we still do it. Counselors can help you learn more effective ways to communicate and respond to your child.  

Counseling requires a lot of work on the client’s part. Oftentimes, counseling involves changing thoughts, behavior and learning to cope with your emotions. So needless to say, the counseling process isn’t easy, but it’s worth it. The end result may be something that leaves you feeling more content, happier, and most of all having a better understanding of who you are and why you do the things you do.    

There are many different types of counselors that specialize in a variety of issues. Below are some directories to assist you in finding the right counselor in your area:

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.