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Domestic Hazards of a Counsellor
You are a counsellor, you should understand /
What is the use of being a counsellor? /
Counsellors are People Too / Guilt Trap for Counsellors

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Counsellor at the Party

If you consider the job a privilege, there are many advantages in being a counsellor,. The fulfillment is on many fronts. But like any other job, this one too comes with its own hazards. A doctor or a lawyer in the family will be accosted by friends and family in the oddest of situation to discuss their major and minor ailments or legal points. A counsellor too will be approached by people for a talk. Out of the blue, people will want to come and share their most intimate secrets without a preamble. Sometimes you are embarrassed as they are discussing issues in the earshot of everyone around. You get the feeling YOU need confidentiality whether the counsellee needs or not! This talking part of it is okay. If you are not in a mood you can give them a few minutes and tell that you would like to discuss in detail after they take time with you.

Counsellor being approached at a party
Image Credit: Roberto Terracciano, flickr.com, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0

Expectations Flying Around

It is the other kind of hazard that I want to talk about. Their expectations from you. The moment you get agitated at home about something people will turn around and tell you, “You are getting angry, you are supposed to be a counsellor”. When you walk away from an argument, “If you do not understand it after being a trained counsellor who will?” If you are upset about something at home, “We sent you to do a course and this is what we get” or when you say you have to go out to help people in a hospital/old age home or any other institution, “There is no need to help the world, if you can help people at home that will be more than enough”

At home unreasonable demand on the counsellor
Image Credit: Kai Schreiber, flickr.com, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0

Counsellor Without Emotions?

Just because you have chosen to be a counsellor or are doing a course in counselling, you are not expected to show emotions like anger, sadness, anxiety etc? You are expected to remain calm and cool under all conditions? Whose says so? It is like saying a person who has done a five year course in medicine and know all about diseases cannot get sick. You can always counter that with, “I am a human being and have learnt that it is the right of a human being to have emotions. The difference between me and others is that, because of my training, I know what lies behind my emotions.” A counsellor has as much a right to emotions as any other human being. And you are not a counsellor twenty four hours.

Counsellors hide their emotions by wearing a mask
Image Credit: Ryan Andrew, flickr.com, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0

'Counsellor' is a Role you Choose to Play

Counsellor as a mother
Image Credit: Suvodeb Banerjee, flickr.com, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0

The other important thing to realize is that counsellor is one of the roles you play in life. Obviously in relationships where you have a stake, you cannot play the role of the counsellor if the outcome of the decision affects you. If your daughter wants to marry someone unknown, you cannot say, “I understand your emotions of wanting to run away, would you like to talk about it?” Its your daughter and she is emotionally attached to you. You have to play the role of a father/mother there. That role is more primary than the role of the counsellor. If the child does not know which education stream to take and you are neutral to it, then you can bring your counselling skills there as you do not have a vested interest in the outcome of the decision making. Whenever you have a stake in the relationship or an interest in the outcome of the decision, you cannot play the role of a counsellor. That does not mean you cannot bring in the better skills of listening, to the relationship. Such skills certainly enhance the quality of the discussion and not allow it to deteriorate into slanging match.

When we are aware of when we can play a counsellor, and when we can't, we can adroitly manage the situations without falling into a guilt trap that others lay for us.

By Sreedhar MA

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