Post Mortem

Myths and misconception about counselling in Nagaland

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 6/13/2019 12:41:55 PM IST

 Counselling as a profession is relatively quite new in Nagaland. Counselling is not only for people with problems. Counselling is narrowly used as a mere problematic oriented service. The need for Counselling is universal. It is needed by every individual. The need for counselling is increasing due to complexities, anxieties and stresses of modern day living. Professionalism in counselling is rapidly growing. But many people do not know what exactly is counselling. 

Therefore, there are too many challenges and confusions about Counselling. The term ‘counselling’ is loosely used by various groups of people. Many people want to be called as counsellors but they are not. 

Counselling is wrongly used as a process of giving a brief instructions on values, or guidelines to the candidates for admission to a certain technical or professional course. The term ‘Counselling’ is wrongly used by persons who do not possess any idea or basic skills of counselling. Counselling as a profession suffers in the hands of unprofessional. Counselling is dangerous in the hands of unprofessional. Therefore, counsellors are ethically empowered to safeguard the profession from unprofessional practices.

In a strict sense of the term, counselling is highly professional. Only highly qualified and professionally trained in the profession can give counselling. Counsellors are persons who are professionally trained in the knowledge, skills and attitude of the counselling profession. They are practitioners of psychology and pychotherapies; catering to the needs of psychological, mental and emotional well being.  Counselling is not giving advice or suggestions. It is not an interview with people. It is not prayers praying or reading the Bible or preaching or imposing values on others. Giving a career talk, giving career information, exhortation to students to change the life path is not counselling. Interviewing people on what can be done or how to improve life is not counselling. 

Counselling is a specialised profession of theraupetic, deep listening, active listening and empathetic understanding. It is a psychological treatment of our total wellbeing. No counselling is given without following the professional code of ethics. A Counsellor works with clients in a confidential environment rather than working for the clients. It is a talking therapy to help the clients in bringing about constructive change for holistic wellbeing. 

Presently, the position of counsellors in private and public offices and institutions are being held by individuals who do not know what is counselling. There are too many untrained counsellors practising counselling in Nagaland. The position of counselors in Nagaland is wrongly claimed by church workers, social workers, theologians, laymen, psychologists, therapists, teachers, receptionists, physicians, medical practitioners, legal advisors. Till the recent past, in Nagaland, the roles of Counsellors have been wrongly substituted by persons from different disciplines who do not know the basic idea of counselling. The post of Counsellors in various Departments and institutions in the state have been filled by lay persons without possessing any qualification or background in counselling. Counsellors are wrongly treated equivalent to a nurse, a pharmacist, a teacher or a clerk in terms of grade, salary, and status.

However, today we have highly professionally qualified and trained in counseling available in our state, it is high time for the State Government and general public to create awareness of the need for counselling and give proper recognition to this profession. 

The State Government should formulate a clear-cut state policy on counselling profession to treat counselling an integral part of holistic education. We need a regulatory body to regulate laws relating to counselling practices, code of ethics, recruitment, accreditation and licensing, 

Counsellors, like any other professional: doctors, physicians, mental health professionals are dealing with human life and therefore they should be treated equal. People or individuals without professional qualification should stop calling themselves as Counsellors and stop practicing counselling as it will do more harm than doing good. Persons who do not have a prerequisite qualification and proper training in counselling must not be allowed to teach Guidance and counselling paper or subject at the college or university. Only professionally qualified in counselling should be invited to deal with this subject. We need an authentic approach to deal with such unprofessional practices in counselling. 

All professional practices are bound by certain professional body. In this context, no counsellor in Nagaland should be allowed to practise without a registration with All Nagaland Counsellors Association. Colleges or universities or institutions should stop calling the “Entrance test,” as “counselling”. It is a professional crime to resort to giving counselling by untrained individuals or groups. It is unethical to equate the entrance test or interview with counselling. 

Becoming a counsellor is a tough life process. It is not at all easy. It is not like other professions where a mere graduate can become a licensed professional. Counselling profession needs at least a master degree with diplomas. Degrees or diplomas do not make the individuals a professional. It needs a long years of experience: a decade of experience for preparing oneself mentally, academically, professionally to accept and practice the profession. Counsellors are empowered to safeguard the interest of counsellors, observe professional code of ethics and protect the profession from unethical practices.

Dr. Zavise Rume, 

Counselling Psychologist, Kohima

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