Counselling is Calling
Counselling as a profession brings more rewards to those who are interested in delving into the depths of human nature and understanding people. The quirks, the eccentricities, the highs and lows of troubled souls are more the business of a counsellor. With a multi-faceted job profile, the counsellor is often expected to be a remarkable combination of an intelligent and a keen listener and a magic person offering miraculous solutions to most problems.
Professional counselling counters the distressing side effects of an increasingly high-pressured urban lifestyle. And there is no surprise that there are counsellors specific to almost every significant issue of life. Seeking the services of a counsellor has now become an essential component of an individual's health care plan.
Most specialisations in counselling are complementary and essentially dependent on the knowledge and practical application of psychology as a science of practice.
The pressure to do well in schools is a rather unpleasant reality but is present nevertheless. It is a difficult time for both the parents and the students. At such times, it is the educational counsellor who comes to the aid of hapless students. They deal with the social, behavioural and personal problems experienced by students. Educational counsellors work in schools, mostly at the junior and senior levels. Their work is a rather complex network of nurturing relationships to the benefit of the student. They personally counsel students and network with the teaching faculty, the respective families (if need be) and various other professionals like doctors, psychiatrists and child psychologists to help students overcome their problem.
Vocational counsellors play a big role in helping students make the right choice. They provide students with relevant information about the courses they are interested in. Vocational counsellors guide students to opt for a specialisation most suitable to them. Everything from the availability of courses, scholarship schemes, academic awards, date of entrance examinations, duration of the courses, financial assistance and prospective employment, is dealt with by the vocational counsellor.
A behavioural counsellor deals with individuals experiencing conflicting behaviour patterns. If resolving behavioural problems like strange fetishes, compulsive behaviour disorders, behaviour affected by severe anxiety etc is difficult, then it is time to seek the help of the behaviour counsellor.
Short of overseeing a tug of war, marital counsellors literally function as professional peacemakers! They help couples repair their marriages and act as sounding boards to provide objectivity to the whole situation. People caught in the vortex of a difficult marriage, experiencing marital discord or those entering wedlock usually consult the marital counsellor to iron out their differences, work on their compatibility factor and arrive at a suitable solution rather opting for the finality of a divorce.
The psychiatrist is the true-blue professional who is trained in every aspect of treatment and counselling. They are physicians who diagnose psychological and emotional problems from a medical standpoint. The malfunctioning of the biological, neurological and psychological processes is studied. The treatment process consists of diagnosis, evaluation of the problem and prescription of appropriate medication or therapy.
Not very different from the work of a psychiatrist, a practicing psychologist usually has earned a doctoral degree and practises psychological testing which a psychiatrist does not undertake.
The psychologist studies the interdependence of the mind and the body and its influences on the individual's behaviour. A person can specialise either as a clinical psychologist, a child psychologist, a school psychologist, a cognitive psychologist, an educational psychologist, a sports psychologist, a social psychologist etc.
A degree in psychology is an important factor to specialise in counselling. Most colleges and universities in India offer psychology at the graduate and postgraduate level. The National Institute For Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences, Banglore (NIMHANS) offers courses in psychiatry (M.Phil By course and Ph.D. by research) and clinical psychology (M.Phil and Ph.D by course) under the Faculty of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences of the Banglore University. Apart from that Amity Institute of Psychology and Allied Sciences, Noida offers course in counseling psychology.
The All India Institute of Medical Sciences and the Christian Medical College, Vellore, offer courses in psychiatry. Research facilities in experimental and industrial psychology are offered by the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur and the Indian Institute of Science for postgraduates in the subject.
Diplomas equip novices with an enriching repository of counselling techniques and can be done through workshops, regular classes, and through distance education. NCERT and IGNOU offer a postgraduate diploma in guidance and counselling, and a certificate in guidance respectively.
Where to work
A practising counsellor can work in hospitals, psychiatric clinics, schools and colleges, and in private institutions. They also consult with de-addiction centres, voluntary agencies and welfare organisations. Teaching and research are options for those interested in academia.
Counselling can be applied to any discipline that believes manpower to be its defining capital.
It is used extensively in the field of social work, management, human resource development, public relations, and personnel development.
Job satisfaction is high on the list of dedicated professionals in the field of counselling, and perseverance is the passport to a lifetime profession.