How does it differ from other helping activities?
Q Some helping relationships involve giving advice, and counselling doesn’t.
Q Other helping relationships may not have the same kind of boundaries.
Q There may be a conflict of interests in other helping relationships.
Q There are some helping relationships in which the helper might be judgemental.
Q Other helpers may offer sympathy rather than empathy.
Q Other helpers may not be objective.
Q There is an absence of mutual expectation in counselling; this means that the counsellor is there to help the client, and does not expect help from the client in return.
Q Counsellors do not impose conditions or expectations upon clients, while other helpers may expect their clients to behave in certain ways.
Although these are not exhaustive lists, they do provide enough material for discussion purposes. However, it is worth making the point straight away that counselling is not the mysterious or inscrutable activity which, in the past at least, members of the public sometimes believed it to be. Counsellors themselves occasionally contribute to mystification but, despite this, consumers are becoming more aware of the purpose and nature of counselling. There are several reasons for this: in the first place, counselling services are advertised, both in the media and on the internet, and it is now commonplace to hear counselling provision referred to following traumatic episodes in the news or TV programmes. But there are also many people who use counselling skills every day in their work, and yet do not describe themselves as counsellors. Additionally, there are many people who have completed counsellor training yet do not describe themselves as counsellors either. These are some of the people whose roles and responsibilities we shall discuss later in the chapter.