The act of helping the client to view things more clearly, from a value-based perspective to remove the difficulties or hurdles in achieving an aim is called counseling. Counseling is used to deal with mental, psychological issues, professional issues where an expert or a professional address the problems with an aim to solve them. But always remember that Counseling does not come in a ready-made format and each session is generally tailored according to the problem an individual faces. The assigned Counselor creates a plan of action in accordance with the client, his nature, his aims, and objectives. Counseling can also be said to be a therapy that is set to address professional and personal issues. This therapy is flexible because of various Counseling formats that make it so. Let’s take a glance at the various Counseling formats before taking a dive into the stages of the counseling process.
Face to face Counseling
This type of Counseling usually finds its place in addressing mental, psychological, addiction issues and professional problems too. These are popular therapy formats in addressing health issues as they provide an opportunity to react to any emotions that arise then and there
Individual or Group Counseling
The client can approach the Counselor all alone if he /she wishes to safeguards his /her privacy to blurt out his/ her personal /professional problems to seek a solution for the same. Also, he/she can approach or join a group that is going through similar problems thus gaining a support network.
This type of Counseling protects your anonymity also allowing you to take time to think as well as take time to discuss the issues to be addressed. People find it easy to pen down their issues rather than talk face to face or say even on a telephone. This is just utilizing technology and emailing the problems to the Counselor.
The three major stages of the Counseling process
The Counseling process is broken down into three basic stages.
- Initial stage or the initial disclosure stage
- Middle stage or in-depth exploration stage
- Last stage or commitment to action stage.
Let us study in detail about each stage.
Initial Stage Or The Initial Disclosure Stage
The first step focuses on building a relationship with the client. So in simple words, it is relationship building with the client. For this stage to be successful, the Counselor should be able to empathize with the client so that the client is engaged to explore the issues affecting him. The Counselor should win over the client with his strategic convincing communication skills. Communication skills play a vital role in this initial disclosure stage.
Skills for relationship building with the client can be summarized as follows
- Start with an introduction.
- Make the client comfortable by making him sit down.
- Address the client with his name.
- If the Counseling is for addressing health issues engage the client in
- some social conversations to make him/her anxiety free.
- If it is for addressing professional problems let the client talk about his problems affecting him.
- The Client should get a vibe that the Counselor is interested in his talk. Be genuine.
Middle Stage Or In-depth Exploration Stage
This stage is the stage of assessment of the problem the client is facing either professional or personal interfering with their daily life or professional targets causing despair. According to Seligman(19990), assessment should attempt to recognize the importance and uniqueness of the client. The key is to extract all possible information and knowledge about the client’s grievances or problems and ensure nothing is left out. Any missing link can disastrously affect the whole counseling process.
The exploration or problem assessment begins with noting down the client’s personal data, like name, age, address, marital status, occupation. This should be followed by the problems affecting the client’s professional or personal life. Also making a note of the duration of the problem, his family history, personal history is a must. This helps in joining the dots. That is to form a connection between the problems of the client and other information collected and grasped. This gives a rough idea of how much counseling might be required and to which particular counselor the client needs to be assigned
Counselors who do not assess the problems presented by their clients are more likely to formulate wrong conclusions and non-workable counseling strategies and conclusions, resulting in hit and miss counseling. The Client may leave with the same set of problems brought to the first session sans any solution.
Last Stage Or Commitment To Action Stage
This stage is the goal-setting stage, wherein the client with the help of the counselor identifies specific ways of problem-solving getting in the way to achieve the target. Goals are the results and outcomes the client wants to achieve at the end of the counseling sessions. Without the achievement of goals, the whole process of counseling goes down the drain.
This is a crucial stage of counseling as the goals when stated clearly help both the client and the counselor to recognize progress during the process of counseling sessions
Some of the guidelines for goal selection are summarized as follows:
- Goals should relate to the desired end sought by the client.
- Goals should be well defined in explicit and measurable terms.
- Most importantly they should be in the range of the Counselors’ knowledge and skills.
- They should be feasible.
- They should also be consistent with the client’s mission and policies(if the client is an organization).
Thus the three-stage counseling process is a planned, progressive movement towards the achievement of a desired, ultimate conclusion.