Elements of Counselling 

What is Counselling? 

People attend counselling for a number of different reasons; overcoming challenges, achieving personal growth, bringing about a greater sense of mental and physical wellness, or strengthening communication and relationships. Counsellors are bound by a code of ethics that protects client privacy and confidentiality. Through a therapeutic relationship, that acknowledges diversity, multiculturalism, and is established overtime between a counsellor and client, clients engage in exploration and reflection, to facilitate change. Counsellors are trained to draw from different theories and interventions to best meet the needs of their diverse clients. Therapeutic activities, exercises, assessments, somatic experiencing and movement, art, guided discussions, behavioural strategies, as well as mindfulness techniques are some of the methods counsellor's utilize in an effort to help clients meet their goals. Each individual's experience with counselling will be unique and different, tailored to the needs of each client.

The Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA) created a wonderful website in an effort to educate and inform the public about what counselling is and what to expect. You can click on the icon below to be redirected to their site, Talking Can Help (CCPA, 2017). 

What Can You Expect in Your First Session? 

It's important that clients understand their rights while attending counselling, and that each person consents to counselling with a good understanding of how privacy and confidentiality are protected, the risks and benefits of counselling, and the role of both the counsellor and client. 

Below is a video that was created to demonstrate what a new client might experience in a first counselling session, the client is acting, using a fake name and fake information. The video was posted to this site with her permission. 

Personal Theory of Counselling 

Counselling empowers clients through the development of self and societal awareness. Clients develop tools and resources through the therapeutic process that they can access and revisit throughout their lives. The theories I consider to be most aligned with my definition of counselling are feminist theory, humanist existential theory, person-centered theory, and cognitive behaviour therapy. The integration of these theories into one cohesive counselling approach is, in my view, one that I will realize the greatest success with clients. The theories I have selected all connect with my worldview in some way or are familiar to me through my personal and professional experiences. I believe, who a counsellor is as a person cannot be entirely separated from who they are as a counsellor. My philosophical position on human nature relates to three assumptions: humans are inherently good, humans are competent and capable, humans self-awareness, self-worth and perception, are affected by societal, cultural and environmental interactions. 

Aligning myself with feminist theory, I understand imbalances of power lead to oppression and affect one’s mental health; therefore, power differentials must be addressed. The counsellor must challenge invisible hierarchies to demystify the counselling process and to connect with the client as a therapeutic ally, rather than an expert or authority figure. Working from a person-centered and humanist approach, I believe that the therapist needs to be present with the client and tend to her or his immediate experience. I believe that CBT and feminist theory compliment each other because they suggest the therapist to assist the client in challenging, “should, “oughts” and “musts”; however, I don’t agree with the CBT suggestion that client’s think illogically or irrationally. I believe that clients do the best they can with the information they have, and it’s unfair to deem it illogical.