Having an education and having life skills are two different things. While school gives us an education it’s at home we learn life skills like doing household chores, cooking, paying bills and negotiating terms with the plumber and the car mechanic. But despite the training at home and in educational institutions there are times we find ourselves at certain junctures in life where we feel that we need help to navigate through the situation but we don’t know who to ask for help. That’s when a psychological counselor or a life coach comes in.
A counselor could point you in the right direction by which you can solve your issues yourself and reap the benefits of counselling.
Importance of counselling
We were talking to 9-year-old Sushant Sharma that day. He was very happy that his friend Dikhsha had got a privilege card in the class for good behavior. Sushant was great friends with Diksha and it pained him that she was always jumpy, got scolded in class, got really low grades but she was a kind child who always shared her tiffin with Sushant and brought him small gifts like pencils and erasers. “But since the time she started attending counselling sessions in school she has become calmer, her grades have improved and I am really happy she got a privilege card today,” said Sushant.
The proven benefits of counselling in school are improvements in communication, concentration and better academic performance. Counselling also helps in integration into peer groups, dealing with neglect or abuse at home and better handling of anger and outbursts.
Life coach Joie Bose said, “I handled a case recently when a little girl came to me because she was having serious behavioural issues. She was not good in academics but I realised what she hated was she was written off in her joint family as a non-performer who would just get married. After months of counselling she now writes poetry, is the secretary of her school book club and ranks within the top 10 in her class.”
What Are The Benefits Of Counselling?
The benefits of counselling are immense. While schools and other educational institutions have woken up to the importance of counselling, individuals are also availing counselling to ensure course correction in life. Counselling can be of various kinds – psychological counselling, couples counselling, pre-marital counselling, children and parents counselling and counselling for intimate and sexual issues.
Life coach Joie Bose says, “I believe my work is to channelize the inner voice of the person who has come to me. I have to figure out what the person really wants. They are usually confused about their own feelings and it is my job to bring clarity. Being non-judgmental is the key and being there to help them to negotiate the situation is the other aspect of counselling,” she said.
The counselor is the person who holds your hand and helps you to overcome the situation you are in. People who have gone in for counselling have most of the time reported very positive results. Deepa Sarkar found her 10-year-old daughter withdrawing into a shell after her divorce. She visited a counselor along with her daughter. “She gave me an idea of what my daughter could be going though and I could understand her better and she helped my daughter deal with all the negative emotions. Both of us are in a better space now.” Divorce counselling can help spouses and children immensely.
Related Reading: Relationship Counselling: I Feel Very Sad We Couldn’t Make It Work
Dr John M. Gottman, who has saved many marriages in the US from divorce by marriage counselling, said that marriages end because people don’t access counselling earlier. When they do it’s often too late. The best part is people can access online marriage counselling in the privacy of their homes so there is always a possibility of timely intervention if the person is willing.
9 Research-Backed Proven Benefits Of Counselling
Positive Psychology says there are empirically proven benefits of counselling. More and more people are opting for counselling. While corporates are going for work counselling for their employees, schools are getting great results with student counselling. Family and parental counselling are helping parents to deal with their children better and group counselling has immensely helped people suffering from anxiety, depression, terminal diseases and addiction & substance abuse. The benefits of counselling are many but here we focus on the 9 most important benefits of counselling.
1. Improvement in communication skills
As we know most relationship or mental issues arise from a breakdown in communication. When people cannot communicate and express their feelings there is a buildup of negative emotions that could lead to frustration, anxiety and even depression.
Counselling helps you to improve those communication skills, set your own relationship boundaries and express yourself better. With improved communication skills people feel more empowered. The cobwebs start gathering in a relationship because of the things that are left unsaid. Better communication helps to clear those cobwebs. You can begin by simple communication exercises with your partner to work on your communication issues.
Psychologist Kavita Panyam says, “Effective communication means that you choose the right words to speak. You have to remember you are responding and not reacting. Recently a husband came to me with his wife and among the many complaints one was he didn’t like the tone of her speech. I told her how saying a simple ‘Thank You’ for a glass of water makes a lot of difference in a relationship.”
2. Better self-esteem
Low self-esteem often leads to constant self doubt and performance anxiety. Students cannot perform in academics because of low self- esteem and this often leads to behavioural issues and inability to blend in a peer group. Low self-esteem leads to workplace issues and even reflects on interpersonal relationships and in some cases leads to inability to establish intimate relationships.
Counselling immensely helps in instilling confidence and self-esteem and hence better performance in all spheres of life.
3. Deal with symptoms of anxiety and depression
In the present world no one is immune to stress and anxiety. Sometimes the situation escalates into depression. In the US almost 46.6 million people are suffering from mental health issues, which means one out of every five adults has mental health issues. A report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) said that 7.5 per cent of the Indian population suffered from mental health issues and it is predicted to reach 20 per cent this year (2020). In India most people don’t go to professionals because of the stigma attached to it so online counselling could be the way forward to reap the benefits of counselling.
Kavita Panyam told us that it is the fear of the unknown, the apprehension that creates anxiety. One needs to think about the moment instead. “Anxiety can be handled through mindfulness and we use therapies by which the fear is removed and rational thinking is incorporated in its place.”
4. Ability to change behavior and habits
Abusive or alcoholic partners, people suffering from drug addiction or even compulsive liars and kleptomanics often find the motivation to deal with their behavioural issues. It is very hard for this kind of people to change but it has been seen that with therapy it is possible.
Finding the motivation to change one’s own behavior and habits is one of the biggest benefits of counselling.
5. Effective management of stress
Stress is a part and parcel of our daily lives. From a person working at an office to a housewife doing the cooking and cleaning, everyone is stressed in some way or the other. But it entirely depends on how we handle stress. Sometimes when we are unable to do that on our own therapy helps.
Radhina Mehta, a working professional, says that torn between her job and her 10-month-old baby she wasn’t able to handle the stress. When she started having panic attacks she sought the help of a psychological counselor. “It was a life-changing experience. I learnt how to stop micromanaging and fretting about small things and focus on the bigger picture. I am a much calmer person now, feel less guilty, I spend quality time with my kid and I recently got a promotion at work.”
Psychotherapist Meghna Prabhu says that stress level is so high these days that people are facing burnout in the late 20s itself. “This is effecting relationships. So I advice people to think of taking up other job opportunities and changing the work environment, exercise and eat healthy because stress management is a necessity now.”
As a dating, relationship and pre-marital counselor Meghna has seen that people are becoming more and more stressed about handling relationships these days. Constant fights, being blocked by a partner on social media, stonewalling or even ghosting is having its adverse effects. “Talking to me helps them find an objective perspective and they can deal with their emotions better.”
New-age relationships are tougher to maintain than one would think.
Related Reading: Is premarital counselling necessary for both men and women?
6. Improved conflict resolution ability
As soon conflict happens most of us have the tendency to become irritated and angry and express ourselves negatively. But conflict is inevitable in every step of our life but how we handle conflict decides on what kind of individuals we will be. One of the biggest benefits of counselling is attaining the ability of conflict resolution with objectivity and calmness.
Apologizing does not come in easily anymore and people often have trust issues. Conflict resolution discussion often takes a route to blame-shifting and couples end up saying hurtful things which is more due to aggression rather than intention.
Mukherjee Dar Bou (Mukerjee Da’s Wife) is a recent Bengali hit film that explores the relationship between a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law. They couldn’t tolerate each other and were always fighting when they were finally sent to a psychological counselor for conflict resolution. As the sessions progressed the counselor taught the two ladies to see everything from the other person’s perspective. In the end the two became great friends and companions.
7. Better management of emotions
“I want to talk to someone about my feelings,” this is statement that counselors often hear. People often feel that they do not have anyone around them who would understand their emotions and feelings and refuse to talk about it. This results in bottling up of their emotions that has an adverse effect in the long run.
A counselor not only listens to a patient, through therapy they help a patient to understand their own feelings and handle their emotions better.
8. Increase in happiness quotient
When we pursue happiness as a goal it eludes us often. A person might have everything – a loving partner, beautiful kids or a great job, but despite that they might feel lonely and unhappy.
Joie Bose gives the example of a lady who got into an extra marital affair. “She started feeling extremely guilty about it and for the affair the relationship with her husband and teenage children became very strained. She was so sad that she was on the brink of depression. I counseled her for six months and told her to move on from the guilt to self love. Things happen and we are not always responsible for that and it’s her own body and mind and she should have agency over it. There is no point being judgmental about it. She is a much happier person now and has got over the guilt.”
9. Better interpersonal relationships
Counselling helps immensely in building better interpersonal relationships. People often opt for counselling as a last resort when the relationship has hit the abyss. But people should go for relationship therapy as soon the knots appear because it’s easier to detangle it at an earlier stage.
If marriage counselling helps in saving marriages, counselling also helps people to move out of abusive marriages or understand and deal with emotional abuse. Counselling does help people to build better inter-personal relationships.
Thanks to the tech revolution the benefits of counselling can be accessed online. Kavita Panyam tells us a heat warming success story of online counselling. “This lady contacted me online. She was in an abusive marriage, that led to an extra marital relationship and she was very depressed. It’s been three years I have been counselling her over the phone. I have never met her. But now she owns a company, is taking care of her kids financially and is going to UK on a scholarship. Counselling success stories like this are really satisfying.”
Do you have an issue you would like to discuss with our counsellors from the comfort of your home? Avail online counselling at affordable rates from professionally qualified counsellors in the privacy of your home at a time decided by you and let us help you make your life better.