There are many ways of distinguishing types of counseling.

Three main criterion used are:

   1) Number of clients receiving counseling

   2) Nature of problem

   3) Theoretical orientation guarding counseling practice.


Individual counseling

      Usually held between a professional counsellor and a client in a confined place where the third person has no unauthorized access to the process.

   Assumption: Individual experiences are subjective and ought to be explored privately.

Individual counseling


   Personal concerns, needs and feelings are carefully considered


      The client’s choice, however, is solely from their own reflections (no alternative experience)

      Client may not be able to generate ideas from other members’ pattern of thoughts

Group Counseling

      Takes place between the professionally trained counselor and a group of people (not be more than seven)

       Members of the groups are clients/counselees whose tasks or problems that are meant for resolution are similar.

      Advantage: clients learn from each other and practice new interpersonal skills in group. Clients hear a range of perspectives from the group members and learn problem solving skills.


      Clients may have unique needs and they may be resistant t participating in group.

      Examples could be educational counseling; Marital Counseling etc.

Community counselling  

      While the individual/group counselling has always look at the individuals, community counselling focuses on social context.

      As such, human behaviours happen in community context/settings.

      Is a comprehensive helping framework of intervention strategies and services that promotes the personal development and well being of all individuals and communities.

      A community, is a group of people with a common characteristic or interest living together within a larger society in the same geographical area.


Personal/Social Counselling

      Deals with emotional distress and behavioral difficulties that arise when an individual struggles to cope with developmental stages and tasks.

      Everyone encounter exceptional difficulty with an ordinary challenge of life.

For example;

     Anxiety over a career decision

     Lingering anger over an interpersonal conflict

     Insecurity about getting older

     Depressive feelings when bored with work

     Excessive guilt about a serious mistake

     A lack of assertion and confidence

Crisis Counselling

      Provided to a client as a response to immediate situation or event where a client feels overwhelmed or unable to cope.

      The immediate situation or event usually is intense and short lived but last a few weeks. Counselling, therefore, becomes part of help to assist the client to cope.

For example:

      Grief over the loss of a loved one

      Loss of job

      Rough ending of a relationship

      Bad news eg report that a student has failed an important examination

      HIV/AIDS testing and status disclosure

Career/Vocational Counselling

      Facilitate the counselee’s career development process.

      Helping students become aware of the many occupations available for exploration.

      Interpreting an occupational interest inventory to a student

      Assisting a teenager in deciding what to do after school.

      Helping a student apply for a course in a university or technical.

      Role playing a job interview with a counselee in preparation for the real job interview.

Marital/Family Counselling

      Focuses on helping people work on their relationship to gain happiness in a marriage or family.

      Facilitates understanding of perspectives and unique needs of members of the family and focus on how a marriage and relationships can be made free of instability.

For example:

      Adolescent behavior in the family

      Dealing parent’s misunderstanding and divorce

      Financial challenges in the family

      Family trauma eg prolonged sickness of the member of the family

      Helping couples experiencing instability in their marriage.


Psychodynamic/Directive Counselling

      Assumes that the present problem behaviours are a result of unconscious drives and conflicts.

      A psychodynamic counselor focuses on letting the client aware of how the past has contributed to the current problem.

Cognitive Behavioural Counselling

      Underscores the contribution of illogical thinking and beliefs in how a client feels and behaves.

      The main idea is that unhealthy emotions and problem behaviors form from crooked/distorted thinking.

Humanistic/Client Centered Counselling

      Assumes that clients have unique/subjective experience which is best understood by themselves and not the counselor.

      Clients have potentials and will power to actualize their unique goals which may be challenged by difficult life experience.


      Counselling invites clients to look honestly at their behavior to gain the bigger picture of their own problem.

       In the process, the counselor provides support, warmth, care to challenge and confront the client to reflect their behaviours and make informed decision.

      Since counselling is an intimate form of learning, which focuses on client feelings and emotions, it demands a practitioner who is able to build a trusting and genuine relationship with a client.

      It is within the context of such person-to-person relationship that the client experiences growth and solution of his own problem.

      The central function of counselor is to help clients recognize their own strength and values.

      The important instrument that counselors need is themselves as persons.

      For counselors to promote growth and change in clients, they need to start with themselves by reflecting on own personal qualities.

Clarified Personal Values

      Personal principles and beliefs which determine how individuals see themselves and world around them.

      Values make us convinced of what is important in life and what is not.

      Values are a result of socialization and guide the decision we make and how we define who we are.

Why do counsellors need to have values?

      Maintains clients’ (and your) identity in the counseling process.

      To help clients clarify their values and therefore

      To realize when you are about to impose your values to the client (to find solutions which are congruent with their values)

      Determine if you (counselor) are able to work with them or not

Sincere Interest in the Others.

      Counsellors need to feel rewarded seeing other people change or empowered.

      The sincere interest in wellbeing of others is based on respect, care, trust and real valuing of others.

      It is important for counselors to have sincere interest in others so that the focus of counseling become solely on the client without feeling threatened. 

Genuineness in a Relationship

      Counsellors do not hide behind masks, defenses and facades (incongruent behaviour, a deceit)

      Genuineness means being sincere and honest (being who really are)


      Sincerity increases the clients’ trust to the counselor because they know that what counselors say is meant.

      Trust increases clients’ self disclosure which is important for effective counseling.

Empathetic Understanding

      Ability to understand the private worlds of other people.

      It involves being fully present for clients (attending to what the client says) and attempting to know what the client is going through with unconditional acceptance.


      Empathetic understanding increases the exploration and clarification of the clients’ problem and therefore facilitates the clients to identify effective strategies to deal with their problems.

Maintaining Healthy Boundaries.

      Effective counselors build healing relationship with the client and know when to terminate the relationship.

      Although they strive to be fully present for their clients, they do not carry the problems of their clients around with them during leisure hours.

      Maintaining healthy boundaries includes being honest about own limitation.


What are the responsibilities of the counsellor?

      Establish a relationship of trust and respect with clients

      Encourage clients to talk about issues they feel they can not normally share with others and actively listening to client concerns and empathizing with their position.

      Accepting without bias the issues raised by clients.

      Helping clients towards a deeper understanding of their concerns.

      Challenging any inconsistencies in what clients say or do.

      Helping clients to make decisions and choices regarding possible ways forward

      Referring clients to other sources of help as appropriate and terminating a relationship.


Putting Client’s Needs First

      Counselling relationship exists for the benefits of the client and not of the counselor.

      The objective to help the client to feel relieved and find solution to their own problems

      It is important to avoid exploiting the client to meet your own needs

Examples of our needs:

      Changing others in the direction of your own values and beliefs. Your beliefs and values are good for yourself and not for the client,

      Persuading the client to change their identity or things they consider important. If their values are source of the problem, confront them to review them and not convincing them to change.

Right of Informed Consent

      Building counseling relationship entails educating the client of the rights and responsibilities to enhance active cooperation of clients and therefore make informed choices from information provided.

Examples of information that needs to be discussed before counseling begins:

      General goal of counseling including potential benefits and risks

      Responsibilities of the counselor and clients

      Limitation and exceptions to confidentiality

      Qualification of the counselor

      Approximate length of counseling

      Fees involved


      Trusting relationship with the client involves the assurance that what is discussed in the counseling process remains private and confidential.

      Confidentiality is both legal and ethical requirement.

      It is important that confidentiality is discussed early in counseling process.

How do you make your client believe that you will keep their information confidential:

      Signing confidentiality form in the beginning of the counseling

      Giving verbal assurance during the intake interview

      Avoiding using other clients information as examples in the counseling

Breach of confidentiality is justifiable:

      When the client poses a danger to others or themselves eg threatening to kill others

      The client is under age of 18 years and is the victim of rape, child abuse or other forms of crimes

      Client requests that information to be released to third party

Acting in Line to Guidelines

      Some of the ethical issues are specific to professional organizations.

      For example, there are professional codes of ethics which address a range of issues and behaviours.

      There are provisions for accountability which are responsible for any practice; clients’ protection from unethical practice. You need to abide to the provisions and guidelines in counseling process. 


Why do you think students do not like coming to their teachers for counseling?


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