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Does counselling have a place in modern society?

Do hurting people need counsellors?  Numerous articles have been written about this new approach to the problems of hurting people.  Some psychologists have expressed alarm, but others have welcomed the changes as being one of the manifestations of the development of a more caring society.  This shift into what we might call ‘counsellism’ has often greatly amused older people who, in their younger days, just had to steer their own course through life’s problems without any access to psychological help.

Counselling finds itself at odds with contemporary culture which requires us to get on-line, live fast, aspire to nothing greater than wearing designer clothes and to buy before we think. 

However research findings on the effectiveness of counselling today suggest its benefits.

This research is not extensive and perhaps it is because we have a keener sense of the need for support at times of personal crisis and a better understanding of what good helping is.  Or perhaps it is because of the breakdown of support systems like the extended family in our society, that there has been an explosion of agencies and services offering support and counselling in recent years.  Some of the critical life events that take us to counselling are as follows:

Bereavement is the one life event which is universally accepted as a time when humans need support.  People in prison, when the support system of any family or friends is no longer there, if it ever was there, and that person is stripped of their freedom and alone in an alien, and often hostile environment, these people, men and women, often find it difficult to gain access to the  unconditional positive regard that counselling can offer. Relationships and marriage, many people turn to counselling before the relationship breaks down, whilst some want support after the event.  This includes gay relationships.  Support for victims of any crimes, serious, violent or otherwise.  Survivors of disasters, post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.

 Post trauma counselling is offered to a wide range of people including, for example, members of the emergency services who witness horrific scenes in the course of duty.  Survivors of abuse and rape, much long term counselling work is done with the adult survivors of such abuse.  Sex and sexuality, two different problem areas arising from the societal or family pressure to ‘be normal’, are often seen in the counselling room.  Medical conditions, illness is another crisis point in a person’s life where support is needed.  Suicide and despair, another main issue for people where counselling could be one of the few places where they feel they can speak openly without being judged.  Problem pregnancies, counselling in education, in the work place, and counselling in religion are all areas to be considered.

The above is not an extensive list of people who may benefit from counselling, but just to give a brief overview. All of these are areas, and many others, where support is needed in a world that judges individuals on their success.  The individuals may not wish to speak openly to family or friends of their ‘weakness’ regarded by many, to ask for help or support. 

Counselling in our modern society?  There will always be arguments for and against therapy.  Individuals will have opinions about it, due to a bad experience, or lack of experience.  It is only with an open mind and someone that can actually see and experience the benefits of counselling unfolding that will ultimately win someone over.  The debate will no doubt continue. Is counselling a new founded religion, a fad, something to fill a void?  Or is counselling needed in our modern society more than at any other time before. Perhaps before you make up your mind, you may wish to bear in mind the following:

The pressures put on everyone to succeed as adults and children are great.  Everyone seems too busy to care about others, there is a need to go out and make money.  Both genders are expected to contribute not only to their own family but also to the state.  In our material world, who actually has the time to listen to others?  To stop for a while in the mad rush and take stock of our lives and look at where we are heading takes time and effort.  Who, if not a counsellor, would see us through this maze of expectation.  Who else, in this franticly busy world in which we live would be willing to give us their time and the tools with which to cope with the hectic, demanding lives that are being led today?

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