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counsellingthe process of guiding a person during a stage of life when reassessments or decisions have to be made about himself or herself and his or her LIFE COURSE. As a practice, it is allied to PSYCHOTHERAPY, although less clinical, and more generally associated with normal responses to normal life events which may, nevertheless, create STRESS for some people who, therefore, choose to look for help and support. If this cannot be sufficiently provided by family and friends, a counsellor may be the choice.
The client-centred or PERSON-CENTRED COUNSELLING approach initiated by Carl ROGERS has been very influential in recent decades. This emphasizes the counsellor's role in ‘enabling’ the person to reach greater self-understanding and experience personal growth, and de-emphasizes any directive role. Other approaches, such as rational emotive therapy or the cognitive-behavioural approach, are far more directive.
Counsellors exist in a wide range of areas of expertise – marriage or careers guidance, students’ problems, debt management, postoperative counselling, etc. Counselling may be paid or voluntary work. In the past, training has generally been provided by the organization for whom the counsellor has chosen to work, and has therefore been specific (e.g. courses for careers advisors in the public sector; marriage guidance training in the voluntary sector). However, standardization and publicly-funded generic courses were introduced in the late 1980s and early 90s.