Differences between Counseling and other Ways of Helping Essay

Counseling is a significant practice of ensuring that people are capable of sorting out matters that that have an effect on their lives and reach a constructive decision. Most of the people usually seek counseling when they are facing crisis or problems (Carol 2009 p 59). However, it is more often ignored that even during the times when they are living a normal life; they can improve their lifestyles through counseling. It is needed in order for people to get prepared for eventualities that may adversely affect their lives. It promotes understanding, value for life and behavioral changes that enhance harmonious living in the society. In many cases, it is done in confidentiality between the counselor and the person due to the need for protection of personal privacy.

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There are many other avenues whereby counseling can be undertaken apart from face-to-face. This includes; online counseling whereby only the counselor and the client can view the information that they exchange through the internet, written communication and also through telephone. These are confidential methods that are usually employed in modern counseling (Mallinckrodt 2009 p 79). Counseling is different from other ways of helping an individual. This essay is a critical evaluation of these differences. Key elements that form the practice of counseling have been discussed. It also highlights what is and what is not counseling, for example the importance of boundaries, the therapeutic relationship, and ethics.

The practice of counseling differs in other ways of offering assistance to solving personal problems in the sense that it does not offer treatment. Rather, it mainly deals with problems that involve the mind, and the general understanding of issues that people face in their daily lives. It helps people to find answers that are essential in creating understanding. It promotes development in an individual through its supportive aspect. It is a practice that helps people to overcome their past experiences which they have found difficult to surmount, but it does not provide material wellbeing (Carol 2009 p 61). For example, it may help an individual to overcome stress associated with loss of property through disaster but it does not give back what was lost.

Before undergoing counseling, troubled people usually feel uneasy while meeting a counselor for the first time; however, their anxiety is overcome by the power of counseling, which generates a positive attitude and the desire to learn more from the counselor. This is an indication of the therapeutic value in counseling. However, it is different from other healing methods in that no drugs are used, but an encounter with the counselor has many health benefits to a person in problems, especially if they are psychological (Sweeney 2009 p 41).

The major difference between counseling and other kinds of therapy is the fact that the person being counseled usually possesses the ability to deal with the problems facing hi/her, but does not realize this. Counseling therefore serves the purpose of generating understanding in the person and enhancing the realization that someone is capable of coping with a particular situation. Many forms of therapy usually take place after diagnosing a problem in the client (Nugent and Jones 2008 p 54). The therapist has to be an expert in a particular field, for example psychotherapists who offer treatment for the problems of their client. Counseling requires paying attention and making a reflection of the feelings of the client, which makes it possible for the counselor to create understanding in him or her.

According to (Mallinckrodt 2009 p 84), “Therapy is providing cure to a health problem following a diagnosis”. Though counseling has therapeutic functions, its goal is mainly to bring positive changes in the life of an individual, largely focusing on how a person perceives his/her human nature. It seeks to change the manner in which people think about themselves, and the general feeling brought about by the thought of how others perceive them in the society. These are major causative factors for the issues that counseling seeks to address. Once people begin thinking positively towards issues, their problems are easily solved and the quality of life improves.

In the process of counseling, it is important to respect personal boundaries. This is because each person has the rights to be treated in an ethical manner and personal matters kept private. Even the deprived people have personal boundaries that should be respected in counseling. Some times such people do not realize this and therefore the counselor needs to take precautions to ensure that they understand these boundaries. This realization enhances the counseling process, making it possible for it to be effective (Nugent and Jones 2008 p 66). For example people who have always been ill-treated and neglected in their life usually do not realize that there can be anything better.

Ethics in counseling is promoted through respecting the boundaries of people. They should be made to understand what they should expect in the process, and the regulations that must be observed. Through this, respect and personal dignity can be maintained. People need to be allowed to regain their emotional being, which is an indication of recovery. When their personal boundaries are respected, they are allowed to reflect on their painful and frustrating experiences of the past. Counselors should not suppress such incidences since this may accelerate the negative feelings that have created problems in the person (Sweeney 2009 p 56). Respecting such boundaries allows progressive healing as people recount their sad experiences.

Ethics in counseling helps in maintaining the relationship between the counselor and a client. This relationship is usually helpful in ensuring an effective counseling exercise. The counselor maintains focus on the problem at hand, rather than beginning to work on another problem that the client has not sought assistance (Carol 2009 p 69). For example, it would be unethical for a counselor to begin focusing on alcohol addiction for a mother who has sought help due to family problems. The issue of alcohol abuse can come later after establishing trust and solving the major problem.

In order to be effective in counseling, there are certain key elements that need to be observed. It is important to ensure that the client is comfortable. This allows him/her space and courage to speak. As the client narrates his/her experiences, the counselor needs to listen without interference, and while speaking, he/she should show understanding, concern and respect for the client. The counselor should not be subjective or carried away by emotions regardless of the situation. He/she should be able to interpret the client’s body language while maintaining an encouraging or challenging approach when necessary, and explaining the rationale behind such an action. The counseling session should end in a professional way (Corey 2008 p 96). All these factors enhance the success of counseling.


Counseling has therapeutic value. It is different from other forms of help mainly because it depends on the perception of the individual towards a particular difficult situation or experience. It is facilitated through respecting personal boundaries of clients and observing ethics in the process. These are important in creating confidence in the client and ensuring that he is able to realize his/her value and also changing the mindset that usually generates the problem. Listening to a person and allowing him/her to narrate past experiences no matter how sad they are is important in the enhancement of the counseling process.



  1. Carol A. 2009. School counselor accountability: the path to social justice and systemic change. Journal of Counseling and Development, vol. 3, 2, 58-71.
  2. Corey G. 2008. Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy, Brooks/Cole Pub Co.
  3. Mallinckrodt B. 2009. Counseling Psychology. Journal of Counseling Psychology, APA Journals, vol. 2, 3, 78-91.
  4. Nugent F. and Jones K. 2008. Introduction to the Profession of Counseling, 5th edition, Pearson Education.
  5. Sweeney J. 2009. Adlerian Counseling and Psychotherapy, 5th edition, Routledge.







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