Rules for counselling
The health worker in this example had obviously not learned the
techniques of counselling, otherwise she would have followed the simple rules
Counsellors show concern and a caring attitude. They pay
attention to building a good relationship from the beginning with the person
they are trying to help. People are more likely to talk about their problems
with someone they trust.
Counsellors seek to understand a problem as the person with the
problem sees it. People must identify their own problems.
Counsellors do not name the problems for them. The use of
questions that lead to open comments will help here. A counsellor's task is to
Counsellors develop empathy (understanding and acceptance) for a
person's feelings, not sympathy (sorrow or pity). A counsellor would never say
'You should not worry so much about that.' It is natural for people to have
worries and fears about their problems. A good counsellor helps people to become
aware of their feelings and to cope with them.
Counsellors never try to persuade people to accept their advice.
If the advice turns out to be wrong, the person will be angry and no longer
trust the counsellor. If the advice is right, the person may become dependent on
the counsellor for solving all problems.
Counsellors help people to think about all the factors involved
in their problems, and encourage people to choose the solutions that are best in
their particular situation.
Counsellors will be told about many personal and possibly
embarrassing problems. The information must be kept secret from all other
people, even from the client's relatives. If a person you are counselling
discovers that you have told other people about the counselling session, that
person will no longer trust you and will avoid you. A client may even get into
trouble because of what a counsellor has told others. Counsellors always respect
the privacy of the people they are helping. They never reveal information
without specific permission.
Information and resources
Although counsellors do not give advice, they should share
information and ideas on resources which the client needs in order to make a
sound decision. For example, many people do not realize the connection between
their behavior and their health. Counsellors do not lecture, but should provide
simple facts during discussion to help people have a clearer view of their
All health or community workers can practice a counselling
approach in their work. Parents and friends can be counsellors too. The
important thing is that the nurse, teacher, father, or friend is willing to
listen carefully and encourage the person to take as much responsibility as
possible for solving his or her own problem.
Now that you have read about the rules for counselling, think
again about the case of the mother with twins. How could the health worker have
made a better beginning with this home visit? What comments and questions could
have been used to find out more about the mother's problems? How could the other
relatives in the house have been involved? Can you think of possible alternative
solutions to the problem?