The Oxford dictionary defines counseling as 'the provision of professional assistance and guidance in resolving personal or psychological problems'.
Also, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, it means advice and support that is given to people to help them deal with problems, make important decisions, etc.
Counseling is not a modern practice. The history of counseling services dates back to the era of emperors and kings, that later passed on through various civilization. It's just that, counseling has now, simply spread and expanded to various domains.
What can counseling help with?
Every day we face stressful situations in our life. Now depending on the capability of an individual, it depends on what degree he or she can handle stress. Everyone is not of the same material, hence, the extent of stress could invariably take a toll on vulnerable individuals. Therefore, it's essential to guide them in a professional manner and enlighten the right path towards handling stress.
For instance, innumerable past examples of suicides and murders are there before us. They all could have been prevented if responsible actions to pacify the concerned were taken beforehand. Entering the mindset of such individuals is an extremely difficult task, because, they don't express themselves fearlessly.
Who should seek to counsel?
1. Individuals having anxiety
Now, we must understand that anxiety is not a serious illness, besides, to say that it's an illness is itself incorrect. Illness happens when certain organs of our body do not work in their full capacity as before. Anxiety is a condition where the mind saturates with too many negative thoughts. For instance, thinking that something could go wrong; way out of expectations, having certain fears or phobias related to social or personal insecurities are the dominant reasons behind negative thoughts.
Moreover, according to science, certain chemical changes and reactions occur in the body purely out of negative emotions. Physiologically, it releases the stress hormone 'cortisol' in the body, which raises the heart rate of the individual. The body goes into fight-or-flight mode and becomes defensive. For quick reflexes, the digestion process is put on hold, and more blood is provided to the muscles for quick expansion and contraction. Consequently, a person suffering from anxiety has a tendency to misinterpret any given situation as threatening which puts them in fight-or-flight mode.
A proper understanding of the actual threat must be instilled into the minds of such individuals. Appropriate counseling services and therapy is provided to individuals who persistently fail to classify situations into threatening and a non-threatening one.
Counseling helps them to understand better about the root cause of their fears which aggravates the anxiety within them.
2. Individuals suffering from depression
Depression is a slightly different version of anxiety. Individuals suffering from depression show some typical characteristics such as introversion, withdrawal from the society, speaking rarely and much more. They are in their own world within their minds and do not come out of it easily. Depressed individuals may need counseling and therapy. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is an effective program to help such individuals deal with their problems succinctly.
3. Adolescents and young children
While it may seem exaggerated, however, the transition from young kids to growing adults is quite harrowing and sometimes even crazy. Because, now they have to come to their own terms, reduce their dependencies and enable maturity. Moreover, due to the flaring hormones, adolescents project anger and immaturity quite often. They become sensitive to all these emotions and also to the biological changes in their physical structure. They often wonder about what changed within them. Counseling helps such individuals to know their biological processes better and to accept themselves for what they are.
4. People suffering from OCD
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a psychologic disorder and requires counseling therapy at an early stage. These individuals are overly restless and often project compulsion in their activities. This is due to an intrinsic fear, where the compulsion factor enters and forces the individual to be obsessive. Such individuals reap quick benefits from professional therapy and counseling at an early stage.
How can counseling help?
Counseling can help tremendously. This is because more than 50 percent of individuals are not capable of dealing with disorders on their own. In such a case, counseling plays a pivotal role in suppressing it at its bud. Furthermore, it should start from an early stage of symptoms and detection. Psychiatric evaluation during the onset of psychological disorders helps in suppressing it completely. However, people do not seek approach until their issues become severe. This is a common trend owing to the fact that these people are actually the ones who fear and hesitate from approaching others.
Types of counseling therapy
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
Relationship and Marriage Counseling
Individual and Career Counseling
What to expect from counseling?
Counseling can take anywhere between 15 to 90 minutes a day. Its duration ranges from a week to few months. It depends on the severity of the disorder and the adaptability quotient of the individual who is seeking treatment. It is also important to understand that, merely counseling alone won't do its job, the recommended things has to be inculcated as a habit.
Generally, mental health disorders are the consequence of the exaggerated response to fear or unhealthy coping behaviors like avoidance and thought suppression. Counseling helps such individuals to reassess their fear and learn appropriate coping behaviors for better emotional and mental well-being.
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