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Presenter Muhammad Mujtaba Asad FPTV, Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia.


Counselling is a process in which one person (the counselor) helping another person (the client) to work through some difficult or painful emotional, behavioral or relationship problem or difficulty. Counselling is a kind of talking therapy which involves having a face to face conversation with a trained and experienced practitioner in a confidential, non judgmental setting. A counsellor will use their skills to help you to explore the difficulties you are experiencing at present and to make sense of the reasons why you are struggling. The opportunity to think and talk about your difficulties in a reflective way can not only bring a sense of relief but also help you to make meaningful changes to your life and relationships.


Counselling is an interactive learning process contracted between counselor(s) and client(s), be they individuals, families, groups or institutions, which approaches in a holistic way, social, cultural, economic and/or emotional issues. Counselling in it's most simple form involves the process of giving advice or guidance.


Personal worries can restrict a persons ability to live their life as they would like to. It is a Counsellor's job to actively listen to a clients problems, and mentally challenge them to encourage them to seek a solution to their concerns.

Counsellors provide a supportive service that creates a confidential space where clients can freely voice their feelings. Counsellors are non-judgmental and impartial, and simply reflect the clients worries and concerns so that they are able to see the difficulties from another perspective.


A qualified counsellor is trained to deal with many issues. These may include dealing with major life changes, family or relationship issues, domestic violence and/or abuse, parenting, anger and stress management, loss and grief, depression and addictions. Some counsellors may specialize in specific fields, for instance relationship and family counselling or alcohol and drug abuse counselling. If a client is presenting a number of issues that require resolving it is worth seeking a counsellor who covers a variety of emotional issues. It is beneficial to a client to seek the services of a counsellor who can provide the necessary level of support that will enable the client to make therapeutic progress.


There are many different forms of counselling currently available, although these will fall into one of three groups : Individual work . Group work . Self-help groups.


Individual Counselling:

A counsellor will meet with a client on a one-to-one basis for regular counselling sessions. In some cases the counsellor may also speak with the client and their partner or a member of their family. This is to facilitate communication and to talk through the issues that the client wants to resolve.

Group Work:

A counsellor will lead a discussion, and guide clients with similar issues and/or concerns, at meetings where individuals are encouraged to share common experiences. This is a regular meeting and clients attending will benefit from exchanging thoughts and feelings.


Self-Help Groups

Individuals experiencing the same issues or difficulties meet regularly to discuss experiences and feelings. This can be initiated by a qualified counsellor or by individuals in the group.

Individual Counselling


Group Therapy

Self-Help Groups


Some major counselling/psychotherapy theories have been selected for presentation and they are listed below: Client-Centred or Person-Centred Theory. Rational-Emotive Theory. Behavioural Counselling.


The core of the theory is that humans have an inherent selfactualizing tendency, a movement towards developing capacities in ways which serve to maintain and enhance the individual. By following this innate drive, people can meet their needs, develop a view of themselves, and interact in society in a beneficial way. This may not occur without distress or growing pains, but theoretically, if humans can be helped to follow their nature, they will move towards a state of relative happiness, contentment, and general psychological adjustment (Patterson, 1980).


Rational-emotive theory was developed by Albert Ellis, a clinical psychologist. Underlying the practice of rational-emotive theory and its applications to counselling, is a set of theoretical hypotheses about the emotional-behavioural functioning of humans and how it can be changed (Ellis, 1977).

Ellis theorizes that humans have the capacity to interpret reality in a clear, logical and objective fashion, and avoid unnecessary emotional-behavioural upsets, but also says that humans are predisposed to irrational interpretations. They are susceptible to crooked thinking, draw illogical conclusions which are not objective, and are cognitive distortions of reality.


A general definition of behavioural counselling is that it consists of whatever ethical activities a counsellor undertakes in an effort to help the client engage in those types of behaviour which will lead to a resolution of the client's problems (Koumboltz, 1965). The methods and procedures of behavioural counselling are based on social-learning theories - theories about how people learn and change their behaviour. Forms of learning, such as operant conditioning, classical conditioning, modelling, and cognitive processes, are used to help persons counselled change unwanted behaviour, and/or develop new, productive behaviour


The counsellor helps the clients to explore their concerns, and a behavioural analysis and assessment is conducted through questions and, perhaps, a questionnaire or survey instrument. The two parties set mutually-acceptable goals, stated in behavioural terms.

Developing and implementing goal-oriented strategies on learning theory principles (i.e., any set of ethical procedures that helps clients to engage in behaviour that resolves their concerns).
Accountability, when client feedback indicates that the strategy was effective in promoting target behaviour and problem resolution.


Several skills need to be brought into a one-to-one counselling session. These include: Attitudinal skills. Listening skills. Verbal communication skills, and giving leads.


There is probably nothing which has a greater impact on the outcome of a counselling session than the helper's attitude. Attitudes can be positive or reactive. They include the following: Respect. Guidance/congruence. Unconditional positive regard. Empathy. Self-disclosure. Confrontation.


Listening skills are basic to all human interaction, whether the purpose is for getting information, conducting in-depth interviews, or offering informal help. Listening is considered to be the most important counselling skill. Being a good listener entails receiving and sending appropriate messages. In counselling this is important, because it means meeting the needs of the client.


Verbal communication is a series of expressive thoughts and perceptions described through word.

Linguistic experts divide verbal communication into two components: encoding decoding
Encoding is the process where in a speaker attempts to frame thoughts and perceptions into words (e.g., someone saying to the person next to her, Boy, its stuffy in here).


Decoding is the process where in the message is translated, dissected, analyzed, and interpreted by the listener (e.g., the person hearing this thinks, Yeah, the room does smell rather gamy). During the encoding and decoding process, some thoughts can get lost in translation. Misunderstanding, confusion, and stress can arise anywhere in this process.


Leads may be defined as statements that counsellors use in communication with the clients. Leads have been classified into categories of techniques, namely: Restatement of Content

Attempts to convey understanding by repeating or rephrasing the communication.


Seeks further information and asks the person counselled to elaborate a point.

Reflection of Feeling

Understanding from the client's point of view and communicating that understanding.



Serves as a reward or reinforcing agent. It is often used to support the client's exploration of ideas and feelings or test different behaviour.


Explains meaning behind the client's statements.

Personal/Social Counselling: Personal counselling deals with emotional distress and behavioural difficulties, which arise when individuals struggle to deal with developmental stages and tasks. Any aspect of development can be turned into an adjustment problem, and it is inevitable that everyone encounters, at some time, exceptional difficulty in meeting an ordinary challenge. For example: Anxiety over a career decision.

Lingering anger over an interpersonal conflict. Insecurities about getting older. Depressive feelings when bored with work. Excessive guilt about a serious mistake. A lack of assertion and confidence. Grief over the loss of a loved one. Disillusionment and loneliness after parents' divorce.


Educational Counselling: A term first coined by Truman Kelley in 1914 (Makinde, 1988) Educational counselling is a process of rendering services to pupils who need assistance in making decisions about important spects of their education, such as the choice of courses and studies, decisions regarding interests and ability, and choices of college and high school. Educational counselling increases a pupil's knowledge of educational opportunities.


Vocational Counselling:

Vocational counselling is defined as individual contacts with those counselled, in order to facilitate career development. This definition and category encompasses counselling situations such as these:

Helping students become aware of the many occupations to consider. Interpreting an occupational interest inventory to a student. Assisting a teenager to decide what to do after school.

Helping a student apply to a college or university.

Role-playing a job interview in preparation for the real thing.


Ethical codes, or standards, are designed to provide guidelines for behaviour. Ethical codes serve several purposes: They protect members from practices that may result in public condemnation. They provide a measure of selfregulation, thus giving members a certain freedom and autonomy. They provide clients a degree of protection from cheats and the incompetent. They help to protect counsellors from the public if they are sued for malpractice.



Beginning of counselling session (introduction): As the patient enters the room, greet the person, call the person by name, welcome the client and make him/her comfortable. Introduce yourself if meeting for the first time and tell the person the purpose of the meeting (to understand the health problem and its best management). Encourage the counselee to talk about themselves.


Active attending or Listening

It is most important step in counselling because the details provided by the client are based on it. Active listening means listening carefully and paying attention to verbal as well as non verbal signals. Provide in-depth information to relieve fear worries of the client.
Counsellors words, expression and posture/gesture indicate that attention is being paid to what is being said. Active listening includes reflection of feelings, questioning, paraphrasing and clarification.


Avoid focusing on the real problem and talk around the issue. Counsellor redefines the problem from a different point of view to bring out more clarity to the problem and make client aware to the core problem. The counsellor also helps client to establish what is relevant, emphasizing the important points for example, "Of all the things you talked about today, it seems to me you are most concerned about


At times of stress and crisis, clients are in a state of denial or feeling overwhelmed. They may not always understand everything they are told.
As a counsellor, do not hesitate and repeat salient points of the discussion, statements of support or necessary facts. Client would usually convey that they understand and accept the information


Many people who are stunned by news of the disease may respond by talking quickly and trying to provide more details or ask more questions; than counsellor can absorb or comprehend It is then helpful for the counsellor to interrupt at times and summarize what has been said. This is like paraphrasing and helps to ensure that each understands the other correctly. Summarizing towards the end of the counselling provides guidance and direction to both counsellor and counselee.

Counsellor should summarize the salient points of the discussion, highlight decisions which have been made and need to be acted on.


Confrontation involves a direct examination of incongruities and discrepancies in the clients thinking, feeling and behaviour. The counsellor tells the client that how their thoughts effect their thoughts affect their action and behaviour, which in turn affect the behaviour of others towards them. It is a highly intrusive skill hence timing is very important and advice on confrontation must be delivered in an atmosphere of warmth, care and concern.


As a counsellor, try to appreciate that people see their problems in unique personal ways determined by culture, social class and personality. Respect clients views and beliefs and build on them. Show respect, for instance, by asking a client to explain different aspects of the culture or personal beliefs that are strange to you; for example ,you feel strongly about this. I dont know about it. Tell me more about it.


Structuring or Prioritization:
Structuring means helping the client to see relationship between facts and feelings.
It helps clients to determine the important aspects of their concern that needs immediate attention and other less important aspects that can be put off until later. It is essential part of planning and probably one of the most critical skills in counselling.


Deciding Plan of action:

Based on the scientific knowledge, cultural and socio- economic aspect of the client, help the client to explore all the possible solution for the prioritized aspect and choose the most relevant option for action. Encourage client to take their own decision and act accordingly.

Concluding a counselling session:

While ending the session summarize the salient points and decision taken, congratulate client for their efforts, wish them luck and fix next visit.