What is Counseling?
To begin, it is often helpful to discuss the question: “What is counseling anyway?” According to the American Counseling Association, “Professional counseling is a professional relationship that empowers diverse individuals, families, and groups to accomplish mental health, wellness, education, and career goals.” The counseling profession stemmed from the branch of career counseling/vocational guidance. It differs from other helping professions in that it represents a holistic view of human growth and development, supporting the wellness model of health, as opposed to a pathology/medical model.
Emphasis is placed more on client autonomy, the counselor-client relationship, client self-understanding, developmental tasks, crisis intervention and empowerment. Issues and problems individuals face in life are seen as normal and the client is seen as an expert in their own life. Counseling is more proactive (education and solution focused) rather than reactive (problem focused). In other words, counseling works to foster individual strengths, teaching and empowering clients to resolve their own problems, instead of taking on the role as an “advice-giver.” Prevention and early intervention are both viewed as essential elements in the field.
In addition, the counseling profession is bound by six moral principles according to the ACA Code of Ethics. These principles serve as the backbone of the counseling practice: autonomy (promoting clients’ self-determination); beneficence (promotion of good for others); nonmaleficence (avoidance of doing harm); justice/fairness (promotion of equal treatment to and for all people); fidelity (promotion of a consistent, predictable counseling climate); and veracity (truthfulness and honesty). As your counselor, I promise to uphold these principles within our therapeutic relationship.
“People are just as wonderful as sunsets if you let them be. When I look at a sunset, I don't find myself saying, "Soften the orange a bit on the right hand corner." I don't try to control a sunset. I watch with awe as it unfolds.”
― Carl R. Rogers