What on earth are counsellors for?

Speak Out

A friend of mine asked some really pertinent questions some hours ago on Twitter. I share her thoughts here:

The above questions are very important. I will be brief. A sound counsellor does not offer you advice off the top of their head. He does not point you in the way to go based on his experience. He takes his knowledge and years of experience and deploys them in helping you to explore all the options available to you, showing you the pros and the cons of each, and encourages you to choose your path.

I have counselled for over 15 years. In the beginning, I thought that counselling means telling people what to do – and I went down that route. Eventually, I discovered that almost no-one did anything I told them to do except in cases where they already had considered that option. I discovered the best kept secret of life: people do not come to a counsellor to be told what to do or how to live their lives. Sometimes, all they even need is just a listening ear so that in expressing them to someone else, they can clarify their thoughts.

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So, I changed strategy. Instead of recommending a path, I would go through all available options with people and let them decide which option – or which combinations of options – to implement. I got better results. More people felt comfortable talking to me, knowing that I wasn’t going to attempt to squeeze them into a predefined box.

Because each individual is unique and different, feeling and reacting to things differently, and because one situation is not exactly the same as another, telling people what to do is a futile effort. I do not walk in their shoes, try as much as I might to place myself in it. I do not feel exactly as they feel. I do not have the sum total of their experiences and orientations. How can I ever hope to be able to see things as they do? This is why a lot of people are frustrated with much of what passes for counselling here in Nigeria. The counsellor almost always has a one-size-fits-all response to each issue tabled.

In my opinion, a good counsellor doesn’t offer advice. He helps you explore your options.

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Mister Mobility

I started blogging about mobile in 2004 as a fun way to share my passion for gadgets and mobile services. My other interests include digital media, speaking and teaching, photography, travelling, and dancing.

0 thoughts on “What on earth are counsellors for?

  • Sep 19, 2013 at 9:45 am

    // Eventually, I
    discovered that almost no-
    one did anything I told them
    to do except in cases where
    they already had considered
    that option’/


    Lots of Coinsellors are like Business Consultants that have never run a successful business in their lives.

    Or, like a Virgin Sex Therapist that knows the 69 positions to make love, but is just full of theories, and does not even have a girlfriend.

    Shoot me!

    I often wonder what qualifies an individual as a Counsellor.

    It would he laughable for a Twenty Something year old rookie to be a Counselor.

    Honestly, what would he know about life…apart from theories ?

    //Sometimes, all they even
    need is just a listening ear so
    that in expressing them to
    someone else, they can clarify
    their thoughts.//

    GBAM !!!

    I would say, MOSTLY

    the question is, why would a Counsellor, paid or not, give a hoot about your problems? He has loads of them, himself, and the time, his mind is probably elsewhere .

    I think a genuine friend (do they exist?), with hordes of experience of life, could be your best counselor.

  • Sep 19, 2013 at 7:54 pm

    We are our best counsellors. More often than not, we know what is right but we delude ourselves into thinking otherwise. Guess we just need a listening ear most times

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