Discuss the Professional Preparation Of Counsellors

Counselling aims at helping people make choices and act on them. According to Tyler (1969) counselling is to facilitate wise choices of the sort on which the persons ‘later development depends. As mentioned earlier, counselling is learning oriented, where counsellor, a professionally competent person in the relevant psychological skills and knowledge, assists client by appropriate methods.

The effectiveness of counselling depends upon numerous variables. This includes personal background, education, training skill, and experience of counselling. Counselling includes processes with which professional counsellors are usually attached. These processes include quality of discussions as opposed to advice giving. Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT): a publication of the U.S department of labour, employment and training administration provides the following description of a counsellor that he:

” Counsels individuals provides educational and vocational guidance services: Collects, organizes and analysis information about individuals through records, tests, interviews, and professional sources, to appreciate their interests, aptitudes, abilities, and personality characteristics, for vocational and educational objectives. Refers students to placement services. Assists individuals to understand and overcome social and emotional problems. May engage in research and up activities to evaluate counselling techniques. May teach classes. ”

It is accepted that many people counsel if we confine our self to the meaning only to advise or discuss with; but the term counselling should refer to persons whose occupation is to provide professional assistance to the individuals who have vocational, educational or personal problems. So counselling is professional, technical and managerial occupation. Moore (1970) indicates that counsellor is a person who has

  • full time occupation.
  • commitment to a calling
  •  formalized organization
  • specialized education
  • service orientation
  • autonomy as characteristics of a person, the counsellor should, therefore, be competent. ethical and dedicated.

They should have a sense of duty to clients, to society and to the profession. Every time a counsellor faces different kinds of clients, so he/ she requires specialized treatment. If a counsellor is untrained or not properly trained, he will face problems in the process of counseling or referring the client to the specialized personnel. e.g. vocational counsellor, marriage counsellor, counselling psychologist, sex counsellor, rational-emotive therapist. Training in one speciality does not prepare for an other speciality e.g. Ph. D. in counselling psychology does not prepare one for marriage counselling. Moreover counselling has many forms. For this skills, attitudes, resourcefulness and creativity is needed for counselling. The training of perspective counsellor can sharpen the skills. Counselling work starts with understanding of needs of the pupil. The needs of children are as listed below:

  •  Physical requirements.
  • Understanding of physical and emotional changes.
  • Self acceptance.
  •  Acceptance, understanding and love from others.
  • Recognition from others.
  • Understanding of responsibilities to others.
  • Development of independence.
  •  Management of fear and guilt feelings.
  •  Ability to face reality.

These needs do not work independently, but complex interaction takes place among them. But main skill where a counsellor needs training is communication. Counsellor should have understanding what client is trying to express, and can do this in a warm and sincere way. Usually it is an easy task to respond the factual details but to respond feeling is hard. One can not master such communication without intensive training. In the beginning of the counselling profession, counsellors usually look for techniques and general rules, what to say and what not to say but as he moves on, he feels these are not always workable. Training may teach them that a good-counsellor will have to use considerable variations in his responses.

Counsellors differ from one another and from one situation to another Work of school counsellor can be approached from two perspectives-what will it be? what would I like it to be? -are the dimensions indicated by Pietrofesa et al (1980). Counselling in schools is fighting for growth and survival. All this needs training in life skills which those are needed for students for effective living. So work of a counsellor is skill oriented. Just as women are taught child rearing skills, and teachers are taught communication skills. counsellors should be taught the life skills.

Development of skills in counselling is important. For this a counsellor has to conceive a working model of helping others. This model should have clearly defined methods that implement the stages of model. If a counsellor does not use these skills effectively, client may, sometimes, become disturbed. Therefore counselling programme should always include training. High level counsellor is the one who is more skilled in using these skills.

Group counselling when effectively programmed and conducted can enhance student effectiveness in personal learning (personal and interpersonal learning) and social learning (focus on subject of study). Counselling and education act as complementary/ supplementary to each other. A counsellor has to focus on these major areas:

  • self-identity formation,
  •  effective participation with others,
  •  goal setting and making decisions,
  •  acting on decisions,
  •  evaluating actions,
  •  taking responsibility for actions.
  •  becoming economic self reliant,
  •  emotionally independent in learning environments.

In these situations, counsellors ‘skills in conducting group counselling provide the students with the skills to handle intimacy along with the other functions discussed earlier. In group counselling, counsellor must have the competency to facilitate the group: where he catalyzes/ mobilizes, manages,, models the group. As a group leader. counsellor needs training in leader style. Trotzer (1977) describes this as:” the extent to which the group counsellor accepts responsibility for group process and structures and directs group process constitute leaders ‘style”. Group leadership is a specialized field which needs training, because a counsellor has to act as director, participant and expert. Moreover, Johnson and Johnson (1975) have framed task functions for a counsellor.

  1.  Information and opinion giver.
  2.  Information and opinion seeker
  3.  Starter.
  4. Direction giver.
  5. Summarizer.
  6. Coordinator.
  7. Diagnoser.
  8. Energizer.
  9. Reality tester.
  10. Evaluator.

While maintenance functions as listed by the same authors are as:

  • To encourage participation
  • Harmonizer and compromiser
  • Tension reliever
  • Communication helper
  • Evaluator of emotional climate
  • Process observer
  • Standard setter
  • Active listener
  • Trust builder
  • Interpersonal problem solver

This long list indicates that counsellor has to face resistance behaviour also This resistance usually arises from basic-self-doubt or ambivalence about change. This indicates another areas where counsellor needs some training. Probably the most constructive influence that a counsellor has is “change agent”, for this a counsellor may play the role of a consultant. Consultation can be in the area of family, school, and community. Therefore the counsellor has to understand the family patterns, school organization and community system. Again how each of these interact within and interact with others. This interaction belongs to sociology and psychology, so human counsellor may go through human relations training. Along with the student appraisal, counsellor has to improve the guidance programme through evaluation. Evaluation may be made as

  •  goal evaluation
  •  process evaluation
  •  effectiveness evaluation
  • efficiency evaluation
  •  The counsellor must be a qualified evaluate for this function.

National Education Policy and Implementation Programme (1979 ) has developed a rationale for guidance, counseling and placement. According to this policy

“Introduction of guidance services is based on the understanding that mere provision of educational facilities is not enough for getting children educated. Teaching learning process is a two way stream in which knowledge about children their potentials. aptitudes and aspiration is just as important as provision of trained teachers, suitable curriculum and text books. So every child should have a right to be educated according to his ability and aptitude”.

This document further states that the introduction of guidance and counselling services will help teachers to understand their students in a better way, small problems of small children can be solved with less money and efforts if identified earlier. Use of standardized tests can help to understand students in a better way. As a result educational and vocational goals can be realistically set and students can be enabled to have educational and vocational guidance at high school so that they can make persistent efforts to achieve their goals.


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