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Counseling and the Characteristics of Helping Relationships


Counseling is a multifaceted process that involves the creation of friendship, active listening and elevation of an individual to make a wise decision concord to his/her current challenges. In the context of counseling, counselors have a mandate to listen to people experiencing difficulties, showing genuine empathy and empowering them to solve their problems. In the past, counseling was treated as just a small segment of mental health psychology but as the years progressed and the counseling discipline became wider and more bifurcated, it garnered credibility as a profession.

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In essence, counseling delves into solving concerns arising from social, vocational and personal matters. Counseling deals with people incurring normal range psychological problems, since it does not offer solutions to problems it empowers people to generate their own solutions. Professionals in the counseling fraternity, teach clients how to devise different and new ways of feeling, thinking and behaving in order to deter chances of developing fatal mental problems. There are numerous facets of counseling including educational counseling, career counseling, marriage counseling, and crisis counseling amongst others (Sue,2005.p.26). Counseling affirms personal growth, remediation of a problem and independent thinking.

Counseling And The most essential characteristics of helping relationships

According to Chandras and Spaulding (2004), Counseling is a short-lived, judgmental process, non-directive in nature which aids in facilitating adjustments on an individual facing a crisis in psychological health (p.45) The counseling process elevates individuals wakefulness empowering the patient, stretching their own credulity and compelling them to make a bold decision in order to overcome their bottlenecks.

The counseling process is intricately delicate as it may sometimes involve very sensitive and private matters, hence the counselors must be credible people who observe law and ethics precisely. The clients must be able to trust the counselors with their information, in order for counseling to be carried out effectively, all the parameters surrounding the helping relationship must be right; establishing rapport with clients must be carried out tactfully.

The counselor has the mandate to set a stage whereby freedom of expression will be highly encouraged. Moreover, the elements of trust, emphatic understanding and respect must be blended in the process in order to attain first-rate results. Counselors must work strategically utilizing the vital skills that act as guidelines on how to assist the patients. There must be a keen attention given by the counselor as they move through the process of deciphering the problem, garnering all the vital information till they attain problem resolution. Adept counselors must always device working mechanisms which would aid their clients to be at ease in their presence as this would help them to communicate accurately and attain fruitful results.

It’s paramount for a counselor to be endowed with the right attributions in order to be in a position to offer the right guidance to a client who is broaching a personal psychological problem. Foremost, a counselor must be aware of the self and have intrinsic values. This means that the person offering guidance to the client must be in tune with his dispositions, weaknesses and strengths. This attribute helps the counselor not to impose his values or beliefs on the client. The counselor should be very neutral, following only the universally accepted guidelines in helping the client. He should not deal with the clients matter using own biases or previous experiences he should only follow what is ethically right and give recommendations as stipulated in the counseling profession.

When a counselor knows the self, he is in a position to help a client without being influenced by his social or culturally accepted standard. Being aware of the self and personal values helps the counselor to have an awareness of his believes on the human nature and how change interferes with that nature. So when helping a client he will be able to pilfer through his beliefs and offer solid professional suggestions or resolutions.

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Counselors should be in tune with diverse cultural experiences. Helpers in counseling should be keenly aware of life experiences, not necessarily their own experiences but from a diversified field. Understanding cultural differences helps eliminate the fear of being rejected by the helpee, in some cases the people needing help may not open up when they realize that their cultural beliefs may not blend with the views of the counselor (Glading, 2006 p.97)

Counselors should have an acute ability of analyzing and controlling their feelings. This trait helps counselors to remain in control of their feelings so that they don’t interfere with the counseling process. Further, counselors should be familiar with the feelings associated with the process of helping people in psychological mire such feelings include, fear, resentment and confusion. At a time the helpers have got to be true to their own confusion and accept the fact that they don’t have solutions to all the problems.

In order to be an effective counselor a person should be in a position to model and influence other peoples positively. It would be highly controversial for a person who has been involved in a dysfunctional marriage to offer counseling to a couple experiencing a marital problem. According to the Christian principles counselors should be the light to the world leading exemplary lives. It would be ironical for a drunkard to advise a person who has a drinking problem; first a counselor should remove the plank in his own eyes so that he can remove the speck in the others. In nutshell, practicing what you preach. Being a model helps a counselor to form clear boundaries with the client so that he will be tempted to contravene his working ethics and social edicts.

In order to be an effective counselor a person ahs got to be altruistic and compassionate (Suea, 2005.p.83) Helpers should not help with a ulterior motive, rather than focusing on the things they gain through helping they should help because they care as a christian counselor, a person must help because he cares, the first priority should be having value for humanity as the Bible commands love your neighbor as you love yourself.

Counselors should be able to observe ethics, ethics help the counselors to conduct their work in integrity and it ensures that the client’s confidential information is not leaked out. Moreover, when counselors observe ethics they will only offer solid profession advise they will not control or manipulate the emotional feelings of the client. Ethical helpers are in tune with informed consent, proper record keeping, professional competence and malpractice.

In order to be an effective counselor one has got to take responsibility for his actions. Whilst the counselor is responsible for advising a client, the client is held responsible for the decision she/he makes. However, the counselor should present fresh ideas, opinions and support during the course of counseling. Usually the helper and the helpee develop a trusting rapport whereby power is shared the counselor acts as the catalyst for client empowerment (Sue,2005.p.65) the counselor does not take the initiative to perform an action on behalf of the client he only offers an informed support and then the client takes the bold decision of making a move.

Key Elements To Be Covered With A New Client In The First Session And Why

When a counselor gets a client for the first time he must endeavor to ensure that the client is at ease and is able to trust him with all the vital information needed for the counseling. The helper and the helpee desperately need to blend in order for the counseling therapy to work. Irrespective of the obvious disparities each individual has it is very essential for the person assisting the client to come to the level of the client so that he can identify with his challenge and his individual values.

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Whilst, the counselors might not have the same origin and race or culture as the client, they should create a room for understanding and communication to flow. The counselor should be acutely aware of the cultural prejudices to avoid offending or misunderstanding the client in their rapport. The counseling process comprises of three main stages amongst which we have, relationship building, working out a solution and ending the counseling session (Glading, 2006.p.97)

During the first stage of counseling a friendship is initiated and in the process of initiating the friendship there are three major elements covered. Foremost the counselor meets the client and they have the initial talk of familiarizing with each other like names, professions and the home origin. This stage is extremely crucial as it creates the first impression on the client. The counselor has got to be firm yet very pleasant to avoid offsetting the trust of the client.

The second element of the initiation stage involves discussion of surface issues like. The family back ground of the client, his likes, his dreams and aspirations. The counselor could probe the client by asking surface questions like have you ever gone for a therapy before? What do you hope to attain from this theraphy? And many more surface questions. The therapist should exert his will in order to understand the clients stand point and he should show genuine interests to the client’s problem (Chadras, 2004.p.46)

Finally, the counselor should set limits for the theraphy session for instance the time they should meet, the sessions they should partake per week and how long those sessions should take. This element is very necessary because it helps the counselor to have a realistic workable calendar with the client and minimizes time wastage. Moreover, the client gets to adjust his time to fit into the schedule of the counselor.

Theories of counseling which I will seek to learn And use in my own practice

The client centered theory

This theory exerts the requirement that the helper should cultivate a climate which bolsters growth and helps the client feel free and liberated to express his views and opinion. The climate should create an enabling effect on the client so that he is able to prevail against his hurdles and acquire his ultimate (Bredan,2000.p.78). As a counselor I would like to use this theory for it creates an enabling environment for the client to learn, adjust and grow. I would like to lend an ear, be supportive and make the client feel accepted so that he can have the confidence to believe in the self and pursue his life dreams.

Holistic Health Theory

This theory exerts the fact that, human beings are emotional, social, spiritual, intellectual beings who should never neglect any facet of the components that make us human. When a person neglects their human needs in any of the above areas he is likely to be stressed since all these areas need attention. I would embrace this theory since I believe in soundness of mind body and souls in order for a human being to function properly. As human we live in a socio-economic environment which can either increase or demean our well being. It is necessary for people to lead balanced life to reduce chances of getting stressed up.

Solution Focused Therapy

This theory focuses on the goals and the aspirations of the client. The first question to deal with in this theraphy is by asking the client where do you want to be and what do you aspire to attain (Brammer, 2002.p.26). I would use this theory because it dose not focus on the past failures, it amasses the strength for attaining future goals. This way the client is able to remove their focus on the problem and envision on what the future would bring when the problem is solved.

Counseling Techniques and the Types Of Clients I Will Use On

Attentive listening

One technique that I would use on my clients, especially the young children will be keen attention to their words and ideas. People get encouraged to talk more when they know that you are listening. Through body language like nodding, I will be able to convince the clients that I am listening and am following their story. For a small child I will have to face the child and make eye contact to make them believe me. In all the occasions I will try hard not to interrupt to encourage the client to open up more

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Another technique is asking questions in a proper way

for instance I could ask a lady client, what do you feel about this matter? Do you think you will draw advantage by doing things differently? The questions will not be coercive but they will help to determine the client’s point of view.

Affirming attitude

This is whereby I will choose to respect and accept every opinion and expression voiced. This is because I respect people’s opinions whether they are right or wrong since every body views the world in a different perspective.

Offering Limited Advise

I will try hard to limit the direct advice I give the client during our conversation. This devise I will mostly employ on the elderly people so that they can trust me and not think that am trying to control them or think on their behalf.

Life Experiences To Help In Counseling

Exposure to diverse cultures during my college days will make me an effective multicultural counselor, thus I will be able to appreciate clients from a wide pool of cultures. I will be empowered to build positive relations with clients and they will appreciate the fact that I can identify with their culture hence they will open up to me and I will be able to help them resolve their life crisis. My level of education and also in depth knowledge of counseling will create a platform for me to avoid prejudices and biases associated with ignorance. I will have both the skill and the professional know-how on how to tackle people since I know how to create confidence and establish rapport with numerous groups of people.

As a Christian I have acquired the virtue of being kind and emphatic to others. I will be able to offer constructive guidance giving consideration to the clients’ feelings I will not have an ill attitude or mistreat people since it violates my Christian values. Moreover, I will build up the confidence and the faith of my clients so that they will be able to belief in their own abilities and make sound decisions.

Limitations That Could Hinder My Counseling

As a potential counselor I fear that I may not be in a position to offer sound advice to my clients because I tend to be highly emotional. For instance in the cases where the client will have gone through traumatic loss like losing a child or spouse I fear I might find myself too involved in their case to the point of shedding tears. A counselor must be a serious exeperiencer of life and I have a feeling that I don’t have enough experience to deal with all that diverse group of clients who will be coming for guidance and my advice.

Clients I Believe I could Work With

I believe I could work very easily with the adolescents since they are very open minded and trust people easily. Adolescents have myriad challenges but they are very adaptable, the only thing they require is somebody to listen to them, accept them and create an environment for them to think objectively. Being a well bred christian I will render a sympathetic ear to the adolescents allow them voice their opinions without being judgmental and reason together with them for a viable solution to their problems.

Clients I Don’t Think I could Work With

Even though I love young children I don’t think I could be able to counsel them since I have not had a rigorous experience with children. Children of the ages seven to ten are very delicate and once their emotions are dented at a tender age it could affect their lives and ultimately their success in future. I don’t think am fully equipped to deal with young children this is something I will have to acquire within the course of my counseling profession.


The world is becoming increasingly diverse due to the global culture. The counselors are broached with the challenge of dealing with individuals from multifaceted pool of culture. Every counselor should be in a position to develop the ability to work with people from different backgrounds and culture. Moreover, every Christian counselor should have regard for human not for things. Counseling should be a service offered to humanity in love. It’s paramount for all counselors to be attentive to details, be good listeners and have compassion for the clients they are dealing with. The most important thing for a counselor to do is to empower clients with powerful information in order to elevate them to a level of making constructive beneficial decisions to steer them towards achievement of their goals.


Brammer,J. S. (2002). Developing And helping relationship: Skills and Processes 7th ed. Allyn & Bacon press.

Bredan, H. (2000). The Counselor and Intercultural experiences. Newsletter of Educator Vol 12 p 8-11.

Chandras, K. V. & Spaulding, M. J. (2004). Counseling Foreigners in the American Educational System. Journal of trainers vol 34, (p 45-54.)

Glading, B. S. (2006). Roads Of Life: How To Become A Competent Counselor. The persuasive perspective In counseling practice Vol 12 p. (78-83)

Sue, J. W. (2005).The Art of Counseling in A Diversified Culture. Theory and practice (2nd edition.). New York. Penguin

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