Psychotherapy and Counseling


Talking about problems is an essential part of accepting them, coping with them, and then moving on. In the past, the family unit was larger and tended to stay together; whole networks of relatives across the generations were able to provide a supportive framework. Young mothers were not left on their own, men returning from work had someone to whom they could talk, and the burden of running a household was shared. Priests offered a listening ear to a community, and the local church was a much more social activity. Today, with increased financial pressures and expectations, as well as a smaller family unit, many people find themselves virtually alone. The carefully structured network of friends, family, and fellow parishioners no longer exists to the same extent that it once did. Families have become isolated units, and urban living has resulted in communities where people do not even know their neighbors. Environmental and social factors make modern day living more stressful than ever, but there are fewer and fewer releases available.The result is that people are unable to express emotions on a daily level; they bottle up their feelings, causing stress- and anxiety-related symptoms and illnesses. Supportive counseling offers a chance to release the emotions, by talking to someone who will be compassionate and practical, and who will above all listen. Counseling is not a new idea, but it has a new role as the pressures within society increase. Indeed, it has come to be recognized as crucial in the treatment of many conditions, including chronic medical problems, serious abuse, and long-term distress, such as that which is the result of involvement in large-scale disasters and traumas for both victim and observer.The most immediate effect of good counseling is the gratifying experience for the client of being heard fully, maybe for the first time. This generally leads on to the relieved disclosure of present or long-term difficulties, and possibly also of hitherto unrecognized feelings. The client finds that with increased self ­knowledge and understanding, changes in perception and behavior become possible.Once the situation has become clear, the work of counselor and client may then involve the setting of specific goals within a plan of action, to be implemented with support from the counselor. Alternatively, it may be directed toward the long-term future ­toward achieving greater flexibility, resilience, and strength, along with an improved repertoire of responses in relating to other people or to new situations which may occur.Types of CounselingProblem-Focused Counseling This provides help in overcoming aud learning to cope with a specific problem. It is usually a short-term therapy only.Developmental Counseling This centers on the individual rather than on problems. It aims at altering the client’s attitude toward self and toward life, and is often a long-term procedure.Co-counseling In this type of counseling both client and counselor take turns to act as counselor. By listening and responding to the counselor-as-client for half the session, the client learns about his or her own emotions and mental processes.Problems That Can Be Helped by CounselingCounseling can be effective in helping people deal with decision -making (particularly professional or career decisions); a crisis or sudden overwhelming change, such as the unexpected breakup of a marriage; post-traumatic stress, where a person is beginning the process of recovery from a deeply shocking experience.

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