Counsellors help people to explore feelings and emotions that are often related to their experiences. This allows their clients to reflect on what is happening to them and consider alternative ways of doing things. Working in a confidential setting, counsellors listen attentively to their clients and offer them the time, empathy and respect they need to express their feelings and perhaps understand themselves from a different perspective. The aim is reduce their confusion and enable them to cope with challenges or to make positive changes in their life where necessary.
Counsellors do not give advice, but help clients to make their own choices within the framework of an agreed counselling contract.
There are various models of counselling, each with its own theoretical basis. Differences in approach can relate to the individual practitioner’s interests and training, the setting in which the counselling consultation takes place, or the predominant client group. There is also no clear distinction between the terms counselling and psychotherapy, and both can encompass a range of talking therapies. Counsellors working in particular fields (e.g. relationship guidance, addiction, sexual abuse or health) tend to specialise in the models most used in those areas.
Across most areas of counselling, typical work activities include:
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