The Helping Relationship
For me, the bedrock of professional counseling, regardless of the counseling specialty area, is the counseling relationship. If all mental and emotional disorders could be diagnosed simply as too much or too little of this chemical or substance, then treatment could be provided dispassionately by prescribing pills. People are not that simple. Many people who could be helped by medication fail to take their medication because they don’t trust their doctor. In fact, research has shown that counseling alone is as effective as drugs in treating some depressions.
What makes counseling so effective is that professional counselors take the time to earn a trusting relationship with their clients. As Carl Rogers showed us, if we can understand the client’s view and respect him or her, clients can learn to trust us and form a helping relationship. Then, with a therapeutic relationship, we can work together to improve the client’s life. There is no shortcut, and we cannot achieve this with every client, but it is our goal, and when we are successful there seems to be no limit to what clients can achieve. This is why I believe that counseling is one of the most exciting professions you can pursue.