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Effective counseling is an art!

Counseling directives for beginners are essential, but at the same time, they can appear to be idealistic, rather than realistic. It is not possible for one person to counsel everyone who is in need of counseling, but if you are able to help even one person, then your counseling efforts will not have been in vain.  

If you wish to be a counselor, it is important to look very seriously at what you are attempting to do and why you want to do it. Note that it is never a good idea to insist on   counseling someone who does not want to be counseled, or refuses counseling. It is not a good idea to attempt to counsel family members.  

Counseling is the most effective, when the counseling is requested by the person who needs help in the form of counseling, from a counselor.  

Here are some guidelines for people who want to counsel others and are just beginning to look for training or education, as professional counselors.  

1. The Counselor and Counselee Relationship:

The counseling profession is based upon a helping relationship. The counselor takes on the role of a helper. He or she tries to help one or more people, by providing counseling with respect to some kind of a problem, issue or concern.  

The counselee is the person who is helped by the counselor, or whoever is being counseled.

2. Different Kinds Of Counseling:

There are many different kinds of counseling.  

For instance, one-to-one counseling is different than group counseling. In one-to-one counseling, one counselor works with one person, on a one-to-one basis. In group counseling, one counselor might work with a group of people. Sometimes there is more than one counselor, who works with a group of counselees.  

For example, in one-to-one counseling, a counselor might work with one teenager. Group counseling could involve one, or even several counselors, working together with a group of teenagers.  

Here are other, more specific kinds of counseling.

Legal counseling generally involves a lawyer or a paralegal, who works with people having legal problems.  


Family counseling involves a counselor working with a family member, family members or an entire family, with regard to areas of concern to them.  

Marital counseling focuses on a counselor working with a married person or a couple, on their marital problems.  

Pre-marital counselors work with an individual or two people, who plan on getting married, at some time in the future.  

Divorce counselors work with an individual, or a couple who may be contemplating a divorce.  

Financial counseling has to do with helping a person or a group of people, to resolve financial, or money concerns.  

A debt counselor will counsel those who are in a debt crisis, towards effective resolution of their debts.    

In credit card counseling, a counselor works with a person or a family, to resolve credit card issues.  

Addiction counseling involves a counselor working with a person or family, where there are issues of concern with regard to alcohol, drugs and gambling addiction.  

Smoking addiction counselors work with people who desire to stop smoking.  

Career counselors work with those who are seeking advice re prospective careers.

Academic counselors help those who are looking for academic directives.

A teen counselor would work specifically with teenagers in order to resolve their problems.  

A child counselor generally works parents and children, to resolve child care issues or concerns.    

A grief counselor will counsel or help those who are going through different stages of bereavement.      

3. Informal Counseling:

Many people actually do informal counseling in one way or another, with others, or even many others, on a regular basis. For example, a father may counsel his son and his son's friends, about teen drug abuse. A mother may counsel her daughter and others about teen pregnancy issues.  

While the parents may not have formal training as counselors, they can still help their children and others. As a matter of fact, at times, they can be highly effective as counselors, depending upon how well they relate to and interact with their counselees, as well as the response that they get from the counselee, in return for their efforts.    

Often the older children in a family are able to counsel the younger children informally, simply because counseling is a lot like teaching. Many of the informal helping or counseling skills are much the same.      

4. Formal Counseling:

"Is formal training in counseling necessary, in order for someone to become a counselor?"  

While it is not essential to have formal training, in order to counsel someone else, it is generally advisable, particularly if a person's expectation is that of being hired, as a professional counselor.  

A highly effective counselor will generally have learned counseling skills and have more advanced training in counseling. For example, a minister, doctor or a lawyer will have learned professional counseling skills. Other professions like teaching and nursing include training in professional counseling skills.  

Different kinds of counseling require different kinds of formal training.  

For instance, a family counselor may need to know different things than a financial counselor, in order to be effective in counseling.  

Quite often, many of the areas of counseling are inter-related.  

Effective counseling might require both family counseling skills and financial counseling expertise. Or, a teen counselor might need to have child counseling skills.

5. Counseling Courses:

Many universities and colleges offer highly specialized or general counseling courses of different kinds, for those who are seeking to become professional counselors. It is generally wise to begin by taking some general counseling courses first. This will help you to decide if counseling is the right occupation for you.  

If you decide counseling is the direction that you are going to pursue, begin by making some serious inquiries about counseling courses, at your local university or college. Consider all of your options. Remember to use your pre-existing training or skills, to help you to make a wise career decision.    

Consider all of the other possibilities too, with respect to obtaining more advanced formal education and training, in another profession that teaches you how to be an effective counselor. You may decide to choose a profession that includes counseling skills, or seek training in counseling itself. Either way, you will learn how to be a helper.      

Effective counseling involves learning the art of counseling first.

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