An event is a happening whose results can be traced back to one occurrence. On the other hand, a process is an occurrence whose results are associated with cumulative long-term effects. Therefore, the Counseling process refers to a planned, structured dialogue between a counselor and a client. It is a cooperative process that utilizes a professional’s help in aiding a client to identify sources of difficulties a client is undergoing. They collaborate to develop methods of dealing with and overcoming these burdens for the client to acquire new skills and an increased understanding of themselves and others.
Counseling is a concept that has been in existence for a long time. Counseling involves better understanding oneself, offering counsel, developing one potential, becoming aware of opportunities, and generally helping ourselves in ways associated with formal guidance practice. Most communities are deeply embedded in the conviction that people can help others with their difficulties under favourable conditions. As a result, there has been a rising need for counseling psychologists to help individuals with various difficulties reach amicable solutions. However, most people expect counseling to be quick and its fruits to show over a short period. These expectations reduce the quality of counseling and link it to an event. Therefore it was a necessity to elaborate on the distinguishing qualities of counseling.
The paper discusses why counseling is regarded as a process, not an event. The paper discusses the evidence relating to counseling as a process. These include the systematic counseling stages, the values associated with counseling, the aims of counseling regarding the change, and the procedural requirements of counseling that distinguish it from an event.
Primary requirements for counseling
As opposed to events, counseling requires proper planning; hence is viewed as a process. It only occurs when clients and counselors set aside time to explore their burdens. According to Ruttoh(2015), a prearranged guidance and counseling program is vital in effectively helping people cope with the psychological stresses they face. The counselor helps her client see things vividly from an optimistic viewpoint, enabling the client to focus on feelings, experiences, or behaviours to facilitate change. Moreover, the presence of treatment plans during a counseling illustrates counseling as a process. These treatment plans entail a client’s history, presenting signs, treatment and interventions, among other aspects(Ackerman,2021). These aid in the administration of counseling to a client. However, events might not require this level of planning.
Willingness, motivation, commitment, and faith are critical steps that characterize a successful counseling process. A person in need of counseling needs to make the first step of seeking therapy or accepting to act to change their lives. Th.ey also need to have a driving force to effect the changes. For instance, there are scenarios in which people access to therapy and express a desire to change but do not put in an effort to change. Consider a situation of a client seeking counseling to do away with addiction but is not willing or making an effort to make the first step to quitting. Only when willingness and motivation are correctly applied will counseling be successful.
Counseling also requires undying commitment. One never wins when they quit a process. Commitment requires a person to stay on the healing process and realize that interpersonal issues stem over a long time and take time for resolution. Lastly, successful counseling requires one to believe in the process of accomplishing tasks. These requirements justify counseling as a process. Events do not require these primary tools to occur.
Pre acquired skills and education associated with counseling
Counseling requires the application of pre-acquired skills. According to Krishnan(2015), communication and empathetic skills are the core of counseling. Counselors must be active listeners. They need to have clarification, reflection, and practical questioning skills. Counselors need to see aspects from the clients’ point of view rather than being sorry for their clients. Empathy enables a counselor to accurately sense the client’s condition and feelings and admit his understanding of the client’s situation. The empathy aspect helps in the final decision-making as most decision-making involves the emotional dimension. Empathy enables the counselor to ask appropriate questions and lead the client to give positive conclusions. These skills cannot be acquired in one sitting. In addition, individuals giving these services must have studied a particular course that takes time. Hence, counseling is a continuous process and not an event.
Stages of Counseling
As opposed to events, counseling occurs in stages. The counseling process is a progressive flow from one stepping-stone to the next to achieve the client’s goals and improve their well-being. Krishnan(2015) illustrates five stages of counseling: initial disclosure or relationship building, in-depth exploration or problem assessment, commitment to action for goal setting, counseling intervention, and termination. The first stages build a foundation by establishing rapport and assessing the problem; the middle stages work toward finding solutions and then focus on meeting the objective; and the final stage brings the process to a close, terminating the relationship after the client reaches his or her goals.
Relationship building stage
The relationship-building stage focuses on engaging clients to explore issues affecting them directly. The counselor tries to establish a rapport based on trust, respect, and mutual purpose as good rapport creates a favourable psychological climate. In this stage, the client reads the counselor’s verbal and non-verbal messages and makes inferences about the counselor and the counseling situation. The client questions herself to know if the counselor can empathize and whether he is genuine.
The counselor utilizes some steps to aid in relationship building. He invites the client to the setting and ensures he is comfortable. He addresses clients by name to create a friendly environment and creates an arena for social conversation to reduce anxiety. The cousellor also keeps watching for the client’s nonverbal behaviour as some could indicate a client’s emotional state. Ask the client to elaborate on his reason for accessing counseling services and give him time to respond. The client can also confess an interest in the purpose. These steps primarily help in building a relationship. They occur gradually hence justifying counseling as a process, not an event.
In addition, the counselor incorporates empathy, genuineness, and warmth to promote relationship building in a counseling setup. Genuineness refers to a counselor’s state of mind. It practically means that the counselor’s responses to the client are from a human being’s perspective, not from therapists. A genuine counselor is congruent: his utterances, actions, and feelings are consistent. In simple terms, it means that what a counselor says corresponds to his feelings, actions, and facial expressions. For example, a Counselor may confess his comfortability talking about homosexuality but shows signs of discomfort and embarrassment when a client reveals his homosexual inclinations. This incongruency significantly contributes to mistrust and confusion and jeopardizes relationship building.
Warmth in counseling is communicating and demonstrating genuine care and concern for clients. Through warmth, counselors convey their acceptance of clients, their desire for their well-being, and their sincere interests in finding workable solutions for their clients’ burdens. Non-verbal behavior, including smile, tone of voice, and facial expression, can ideally indicate a sense of warmth and aids in client acceptance.
The Problem assessment stage as a counseling process
During the problem assessment stage, the counselor collects information about the client and classifies them to conclude their concerns. The assessment enables counselors to make accurate diagnoses, determine a client’s suitability to a particular treatment plan, and facilitate the generation of options and alternatives. The counselor assesses the extent to which an issue is of interference to a client’s daily life, the thoughts and feelings associated with the problem, the duration the problem has been in existence, and whether the particular issue is predictable. The counselor can also check for a client’s description during the interview. His physical appearance and his remarks can tell a lot about the client. Whether the client’s remarks were logical or not and the nature of the problem presented. The assessment process is vital in seeking information about the client and their difficulties. Information gathered from this step help counselors to start a change process for their clients.
Goal setting Stage
Goals refer to the results the client wants to achieve at the end of counseling. It enables both players to ascertain what is achievable and cannot be achieved through counseling. In this stage, the client, with counselors help, identifies methods to use in resolving problems and the course of action they should implement in problem resolution. Goals are vital since they motivate clients to work towards achieving them. They also learn how to structure their lives toward achieving them. Clear goals also help a counselor to choose and evaluate appropriate counseling interventions.
At this juncture, the counselor determines a method or approach to the client for positive outcomes. For example, if a counselor utilizes the person-centred approach, he gets involved instead of emphasizing the relationship. On the other hand, the behavioural approach brings on activities that help clients change their behaviour.
Evaluation, Termination, or Referral
The last step of the counseling process is termination. Every successful counseling aims towards a successful termination or referral to other services if the client requires additional help. For example, somebody struggling with addiction and substance abuse can indulge in a counseling process that accepts rehabilitation centers intervention. However, for some people, counseling has to be terminated. Termination is conducted with much sensitivity and with the clients’ knowledge.
The counseling process is procedural, with input from the client and the counselor. It involves much time for the outcome. Therefore it will be bizarre to consider it an event that is one time. These stages hence justify counseling as a process and not an event.
Counseling as a tool for creating change
Counseling aims to create change, and change is a process. Counseling is a progressive movement towards an ultimate conclusion. Counseling aims to change a person’s behaviour, beliefs, and values to conform to the recommended ways of action. According to Kendra(2019), this change process is multidimensional, involving core processes including pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance, and relapse. The Reach Approach(2017) describes contemporary society as showing interest in quick fixes that require less effort to effect change. The sense of entitlement has bred misunderstanding about the change process. Trying to fix some issues through counseling is an aspect that cannot be accomplished overnight. For example, getting positive results for a person who has struggled with trauma, addictions, and mental health difficulties will require time. These individuals undergo a series of processes to get the outcome finally.
The first stage of change is the pre-contemplation stage. Clients in this stage usually are in denial and do not consider the change(Wayne,2019). They think that the behaviour is not very much problematic. In this stage, some people may lack awareness of the damaging effects of their behaviour or are under-informed of the consequences of their behaviour. For example, a drug addict in this stage may not feel any repercussions of his addiction or might be under-informed of the potential health risks. The same applies to clients struggling with trauma.
In the contemplation stage, people become aware of the potential benefits of changing, but the costs tend to hinder. The conflict can cause contradiction about changing; hence this stage can last for a long time. The client assesses himself for reasons he wants to change, any barriers preventing the change and suggests options to help him affect the change.
During the preparation stage, the counselor helps the victim to make minor adjustments in preparation for a significant life change. For example, an addict who intends to quit smoking might switch brands, reduce the smoking frequency, or use placebo cigarettes with minimal destructive effects. The victim can set down goals for improvement. During the action stage, the counselor helps the victim accomplish their goals. In the maintenance stage, the victim avoids degrading behaviours and keeps up with new behaviour. He replaces old beliefs and habits with positive ones. In case of faltering, it is essential to keep motivating oneself rather than scrutinize self. It is possible to relapse during a behaviour change process, and also, it is customary to go through failure feelings, disappointment, and frustration. If a relapse occurs, the client should strive to reassess himself for sources of failure and try again. The counselor should be patient with the client.
Suppose we expect to transform habits, patterns, and drives feeding our unconscious and subconscious minds. In that case, we need to recognize that when the primary needs of the mind, body, spirit, and environment are met, we are likely to experience the change we seek. Therefore, the therapeutic process is not just about fixing a problem. It is about learning the skills to live more mindfully, living lives that are steeped in an understanding of how we as humans work and how we relate to our environments because the two can never be separated, which is one of the reasons why nature offers many of the clues about the nature of our growth.
In addition, counseling results in a decision-making process. The processes involved can either result in a wrong decision or a good decision with a bad outcome. The efficiency and effectiveness of the process differentiate these two outcomes. An effective process ensures that every decision works out as planned. Counsellors strive to ensure that the outcome of every decision is positive.
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Cherry, K. (2019). The six stages of behaviour change: The Trans-theoretical or stages of change model. https://www.verywellmind.com/the-stages-of-change-2794868
Krishnan, S. (2015). The counseling process: Stages of the counseling process. Retrieved 07/09/2016, from http://www. slideshare. net/SUNILKRISHNANPSYCHO/the-counseling-process-stages-of the-counseling-process.http://www.dspmuranchi.ac.in/pdf/Blog/stages%20of%20counseling.pdf
Reach Approach(2017)Change is a process, not an event.https://www.thereachapproach.co.uk/2017/06/07/change-is-a-process-not-an-event/
Ruttoh, M. J. K. (2015). Planning and Implementation of Guidance and Counseling Activities in Secondary Schools: A Case of Kamariny Division of Keiyo District, Kenya. Journal of Education and Practice, 6(5), 1-4.
Wayne, W.(2019). The Transtheoretical Model (Stages of Change). Boston University School of Public Health. https://sphweb.bumc.bu.edu/otlt/mph-modules/sb/behavioralchangetheories/behavioralchangetheories6.html