NEPAL YOGA INSTITUTE AND RETREAT
Psychological counseling, also known as therapy or psychotherapy, is a professional therapeutic process that aims to help individuals overcome psychological challenges, improve their mental well-being, and enhance their overall quality of life. It involves a collaborative and confidential relationship between a trained mental health professional, such as a psychologist or counselor, and a client or patient.
“Counseling involves an interactive process between the person seeking assistance and the trained counselor who provides support and guidance” (Joseph F. Perez, 1965). The counselor can initiate, facilitate, and sustain this interactive process by conveying spontaneity, warmth, tolerance, respect, and sincerity. When someone facing difficulties seeks guidance and support from a trusted individual, a counseling situation arises. This is a common occurrence in everyday life. While seeking advice from others is common, having the expertise to provide appropriate guidance is not. It requires specialized knowledge, skills, and competence of a counselor to understand the other person’s problem from their perspective and guide them towards feasible and acceptable solutions. Although advising has been practiced for a long time, counseling, as developed in scientific psychology, is a relatively recent advancement. Counseling goes beyond simply advising or guiding others, which is a common function performed by parents, teachers, doctors, and others in society. It is an art that relies on the specific knowledge, understanding, skills, attitudes, and values of the counselor, making it a specialized profession that requires professional training. To understand an individual, it is necessary to have a good understanding of child psychology, adolescent psychology, and adult psychology. It is also important to understand verbal communication, which is observable in interactions between parents and children, teachers and students, employers and employees, and so on. Any counseling situation is a social situation because it involves the interaction between two people.
Counseling as a Helping Relationship:
At its core, counseling is a “helping relationship.” We all strive to fulfill our personal needs, but often we find ourselves in conflicting situations where our interests clash with others’. These psychological conflicts, such as conflicting goals, values, and interests, can diminish our enthusiasm and zest for life. The counseling psychologist alleviates this suffering by establishing a supportive relationship. As Rogers stated, a helping relationship is one in which the participants aim to increase the appreciation, expression, and functional use of the individual’s inner resources. Common relationships such as those between teachers and students, spouses, parents and children, and counselors and clients can all be considered helping relationships.
Counseling as a Solution to Human Problems:
Counseling aims to help clients understand and accept themselves as they are, enabling them to work towards realizing their potential. This often requires modifying attitudes, perspectives, and behaviors. The nature of the counseling process depends on the specific context or situation. The counselor accepts their clients and holds unconditional regard for their personality and self-worth. Naturally, counseling involves addressing clients’ emotions, as it serves a purpose. Counseling aims to help individuals achieve self-autonomy through self-understanding, self-direction, and self-motivation. A fully-functioning person in counseling experiences minimal inhibitions, conflicts, and anxieties.
The Aims of Counseling:
Counseling psychology encompasses various areas of focus, including the counseling process and outcomes, supervision and training, career development and support, and prevention and health. Some common themes among counseling psychologists include emphasizing strengths and resources, understanding the relationship between individuals and their environment, addressing educational and career development, fostering brief relationships, and considering individuals as whole beings. Counseling psychologists seek to answer research questions related to the counseling process and outcomes. This includes understanding how and why counseling occurs and progresses, assessing the effectiveness of counseling under different conditions, and exploring various indicators of effectiveness, such as symptom reduction, behavior change, and improved quality of life. Research in this field often investigates therapist variables, client variables, the therapeutic relationship, creative factors, dimensions of the counseling process and outcomes, mechanisms of change, and different research styles. Carl Rogers, a humanistic psychologist, introduced a classic approach to counseling that emphasized creating a safe space for clients to express themselves more deeply than they typically would.
Lord Krishna counseling to Arjuna in Bhagavad Gita
In the Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna is in a bad situation in that he’s needed to fight an army composed incompletely of his instructors, cousins, and friends. He has a fear attack and becomes depressed. Lord Krishna advises him to fight, but he’ll not take Krishna’s advice.
अर्जनु उवाच | कार्पण्यदोषोर्हतस्वभाव: प्रच्छामि त्वां धर्मसंमूढ़चेताः | यच्छ्रेयः स्यान्निश्चितं ब्रूहि तन्मे शिष्यस्तेऽहं शाधि मां त्वां प्रपन्नम् || 2.7||
kārpaṇya-doṣhopahata-svabhāvaḥ pṛichchhāmi tvāṁ dharma-sammūḍha-chetāḥ
yach-chhreyaḥ syānniśhchitaṁ brūhi tanme śhiṣhyaste ’haṁ śhādhi māṁ tvāṁ prapannam
Meaning: I am confused about my duty and am besieged with anxiety and faintheartedness. I am Your disciple and am surrendered to You. Please instruct me for certain what is best for me.
Comment: This is a great moment in the Bhagavad Gita when, for the first time, Arjuna, who is Lord Krishna’s friend and kinsman, requests him to be his practitioner. Arjuna pleads to Lord Krishna that he has been overpowered by kārpaṇya-doṣha, or the excrescence of poltroonery in gesture, and so he requests the Lord to become his practitioner and instruct him about the path of auspiciousness. All the Vedic Holy Writ declare in accord that it’s through the medium of a Spiritual Master that we admit godly knowledge for our eternal weal.
श्रीभगवानुवाच | अशोच्यानन्वशोचस्त्वं प्रज्ञावादांश्च भाषसे | गतासूनगतासूंश्च नानुशोचन्ति पण्डिताः || 2.11||
śhrī bhagavān uvācha
aśhochyān-anvaśhochas-tvaṁ prajñā-vādānśh cha bhāṣhase gatāsūn-agatāsūnśh-cha nānuśhochanti paṇḍitāḥ
Meaning: The Supreme Lord said: While you speak words of wisdom, you are mourning for that which is not worthy of grief. The wise lament neither for the living nor for the dead.
Comment: Starting with this verse, Lord Krishna initiates his conversation with a dramatic opening statement. Arjuna is lamenting, for what he feels are valid reasons. But, rather than sympathizing with him, Lord Krishna challenges his arguments. He says, “Arjuna, though you may feel you’re speaking words of wisdom, you’re actually speaking and acting out of ignorance. No possible reason justifies your lamentation. The wise, the pandits, neither lament for the living nor for the dead. Hence, the grief you feel in killing your cousins is illusory, and it proves that you are not a pandit.” Lord Krishna asserts that wise individuals, who are surrendered to God, simply perform their duty in all situations without being affected by external circumstances. Such individuals do not lament because they accept all circumstances as God’s grace.
Counseling as a helping relationship:
Counseling is essentially a “helping relationship.” We all seek to fulfill our specific needs, and often find ourselves in conflicting situations where our interests clash with those of others. These conflicts, such as differences in values, interests, and expectations, can lead to a decline in mental enthusiasm and zest for life. The counseling psychologist alleviates this suffering by establishing a supportive relationship. As Rogers puts it, a helping relationship is one “in which one of the participants intends that there shall come about, in one or both parties, more appreciation of, and more expression of, their respective inner potentials.” The relationships we commonly observe, such as that between a teacher and a student, husband and wife, mother and child, counselor and counselee, can all be considered helping relationships.
Counseling as a response to human problems:
Counseling aims to help individuals understand and accept themselves as they are, so they can work towards realizing their potential. This often requires a revision of beliefs, perspectives, and behaviors. The nature of the counseling process depends on the specific setting or situation. The counselor accepts the individual unconditionally and respects their personality and self-worth. Naturally, counseling involves the emotions of the individual, as it serves a purpose. Counseling aims to help individuals achieve a state of self-autonomy through self-understanding, self-direction, and self-actualization. In this state, individuals experience minimal inhibitions, conflicts, and anxieties, becoming fully functioning individuals.