In psychology, individual counselling is the provision of mental health services, usually to patients who are emotionally compromised, in private sessions between a counsellor and an individual. Counsellors are trained professionals who are accustomed to helping people from different backgrounds with a wide array of issues. They help patients to examine and understand problems, change their ways of thinking and behaving, and assist people with making important decisions.
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We have the experience and outreach to help you with confidential advice and referrals to sources that offer individual counselling services.
Curing versus counselling
Relatives and friends are keen to suggest cures when someone suffers emotional anguish. Despite their noble intentions, they can be poor advisors, due to relationship sensitivities and lack of therapeutic knowledge. Internet sites can also not solve complex individual health afflictions. Professional counsellors have the expertise to objectively evaluate problems and enable patients to cope with it.
People need counselling for many disturbances, including trauma, anxiety, depression, behaviour and substance use disorders, personality disorders, relationship problems, and a long list of other discomforts. A frequent obstacle is that the person is so distressed or demoralised that they lack the will to seek counselling. Family or friends may have to intervene and take the person to a counsellor.
In group counselling several patients with similar problems benefit from exchanging thoughts in a spirit of mutual support and sharing. Individual counselling is more intensely focused on healing a single patient’s unique requirements – It also allows discussion of sensitive subjects that a patient may hesitate to mention in a group setting. The two systems are complimentary, rather than opposites.
Personal counselling for individuals
In individual counselling, therapists typically start off with an interview and in-depth evaluation of all the factors that influence a patient’s condition and behaviour. They will then design a treatment program for the patient. The planned program will be discussed and agreed upon with the patient. Further adjustments can be made to compensate for new factors that emerge as treatment progresses.
An important element of counselling is the formation of a trusting relationship or bond between a counsellor and a patient, due to the sensitive personal information that must be shared for the treatment to be effective.
There are many types of treatment programs that counsellors can use, such as cognitive therapy, behavioural therapy, integrative and multimodal therapies, etc. Therapy methods are thoroughly tested before acceptance by the mental health industry. The nature of the problem, the preferred method of the therapist, as well as the patient’s input, will determine which process is applied.
Some counsellors prefer older types of treatment programs, such as the many derivatives of “anonymous” and other “12-step” programs that stem from the original, well-known “Alcoholics Anonymous” program. These programs are not as comprehensive as the latest techniques, but they do work for some people.
The frequency and duration of therapy depends on the type of disorder and the rate of progress. More frequent therapy sessions may produce more rapid results, but this is not always the case. Research shows that the positive results last for a long time, sometimes permanently, and that therapy, on its own or in combination with prescribed medication, is more effective than medical treatment alone.
Some people may find it difficult to decide on a suitable counselling service. Medical practitioners can refer patients to counsellors and there are also other health advisory agencies that can advise patients about appropriate counsellors.
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If you are struggling with a specific emotional, substance or behaviour problem, or suspect that something is not right, then phone us for confidential help. We can provide advice and refer you to reliable sources for further assistance with your specific situation and individual counselling requirements.
Disclaimer: Media publications about health matters provide general information intended for broad public audiences. Individuals are required to consult a suitably qualified health professional for personal health advice.