What is Counselling?

Counselling is a private and confidential process in which you share and discuss, with a professionally trained counsellor, your feelings, emotions and thoughts related problems that may be troubling or distressing you.

The aim of counselling is to help you gain deep insights into your problem area and to help you bring about a change in your thoughts, beliefs and behaviours so as to cope more effectively with your problem.

Why does one need counselling?

Counselling is for everyone. Even counsellors themselves need counselling from time to time.

Any person facing a difficult situation that he or she is not been able to cope with, can benefit from counselling. It may be that your friends and family are not able to help you or are unavailable when you need them. They may even be part of your problem or perhaps you don’t want them to know about it.

A counsellor, on the other hand, is a neutral party who you can reach out to without any concerns as she/he has no biases or prejudices. Besides, a counsellor is trained to understand your problems and help you deal with them effectively.

Seeking out counselling is not a sign of weakness, it just indicates you could do with a little help in effectively dealing with a problem or situation. So, if you are distressed about something in your life i.e. if you are feeling strong disturbing emotions such as anxiety, stress, depression, fear, anger, etc. about some aspect(s) of your life, you could benefit by reaching out to a counsellor.

What is online counselling?

Online counselling or e­-counselling is simply about communicating with your counsellor through a telephone, computer or a mobile device, rather than making a visit to your counsellor’s office for a face-­to-­face session. Online counselling can be accessed through various modes of communication:  email, instant messaging, telephone, audio chat or video chat (such as through Skype or Facetime).

At iCounsel, we offer all these options for online counselling, but would highly recommend you go for video chats as they allow for face-­to-­face communication. However, if that option doesn’t work for you, you could choose telephone counselling or an audio chat (like Skype). Or you may want to simply receive counselling via on­going email exchanges or through Instant Messaging. You could also use a combination of these formats depending on your preference and convenience at that point in time.

All these modes of e-­counselling work well, but obviously they have their individual pros and cons.

What are the disadvantages of online counselling?
  • Before you take a decision to opt for online or e­-counselling, you need to be aware of some downsides to this mode of counselling vis­-à-vis in-­person face-­to-­face counselling:

    • Open sharing by you, the client, is integral to effective counselling. This becomes even more critical in online counselling as the counsellor cannot read your facial expressions or body language (unless you opt for online video chats or Facetime). With telephone counselling or online audio chats, he/she can gauge your feelings and emotions to a large extent, but not as well as they would in a face­-to-­face format.
    • There is a risk of misunderstanding or misinterpreting what a client is trying to express in a session if it is heavily reliant on text i.e. through email or instant messaging.  The onus is on the counsellor to ensure they have fully understood what the client is trying to say and it is also on the client to ensure they are not ambiguous in their sharing. This problem obviously does not exist for other e­-counselling formats such as telephone counselling, Skype audio and Skype video chats.
Will I have the same counsellor each time?
  • Once you have signed up for our counselling service, you will have the same counsellor for all your sessions so you can gain maximum benefit from their services. Your emails and messages will be automatically directed to the same counsellor.

    If at some point you are dissatisfied with your counsellor and would like a change, you can write to prismcounselling@gmail.com requesting for a change of counsellor, providing clear reasons for your dissatisfaction.

What exactly is meant by confidentiality and anonymity? How much personal information do I have to share?
  • Your sessions are conducted by the counsellor in strict confidentiality adhering to the global code of conduct of the counselling profession.  Your counsellor will not, under any circumstances, disclose your identity or discuss the details of your case with anyone*.

    You should ideally share some basic personal information with the counsellor such as your name, age, gender, marital status and occupation. You can decide to withhold further personal information such as details about your job or your family. However, if some of this information is part of the problem it will really help to share as much of the detail as possible with your counsellor. If you would like to remain anonymous, you can do so by withholding your real name but must share other relevant details without giving away your identity.

    However, remember you run a bigger risk of disclosure through the computer or mobile device on which you keep a record of your communications with your counsellor. Take precautions to use an email ID that others may not have access to or alternatively ensure your email account is password protected. Be careful you don’t leave around print outs of your email communication with your counsellor or any homework tasks or assignments you may be working on.

    * unless he / she fears your life is at risk because, as per worldwide counselling ethics, the counsellor has to breach client confidentiality by informing a responsible person of their family and / or an appropriate helping organization or body should their life be at risk through suicide or homicide.

What are the qualifications and areas of expertise of the Prism team members?
  • All our counsellors, coaches and psychotherapists have over 100 hours experience in their fields and hold, at the very least, a degree or diploma in psychology or counselling.

    Additionally, many have certificates or diplomas in allied modalities and fields such as Hypnotherapy, Energy Healing, Metaphor Therapy, Art Therapy, Career Guidance, etc.

    More details about the team can be found at http://prismcounselling.com/Team/

What happens in a counselling session?

The counsellor creates a conducive environment to help you relax and share your problems and concerns openly. She/he does not judge your actions or behaviours – instead, she/he empathises with you and ensures that you feel fully supported, heard and understood.

The counsellor does not tell you what to do and also does not advise you or direct you on the “right” course of action. On the contrary, she/he helps you gain better clarity on your problem area and recognize unhelpful and self­-defeating habits and belief systems that are contributing to your disturbing emotions and feelings. The counsellor can help equip you with relevant skills required to effectively deal with the problem and she/he works collaboratively with you to help you arrive at appropriate solutions to your problem.

After a few regular sessions, counselling can help you acquire skills to make decisions or changes to help you cope more effectively with problems and issues in life. It helps you gain new perspectives and can encourage progression and growth so you can realise your full potential.

Each counselling session is 60 minutes long. One usually needs 6­-8 sessions to bring about significant changes – especially for deep-­seeded or complex issues.

What types of issues can counselling help with?

Counselling can help deal with a wide range of everyday life issues. Some typical problems that people bring to us are:

  • Relationship issues  e.g. conflict, pre­marital issues, marital stress, friendship issues, incompatibility, etc.
  • Parenting issues ­- e.g. academic performance, learning disabilities, bullying, managing teenagers and adolescents, etc.
  • Workplace related issues ­- e.g. work life balance, harassment, coping with change, inter­personal relationships, managing people, time management, etc.
  • Removing personal growth blocks for self­ development -­ e.g.  lack of confidence, communication skills, anger management.
  • Loneliness and depression
  • Fears and phobias
  • Acute anxiety or stress
  • Physical, verbal or mental abuse
  • Body image issues
  • Loss or bereavement
  • Substance abuse

iCounsel currently does not provide legal, financial or medical assistance.

What are the advantages of online counselling?
  • Convenient -­ Online counselling allows you to get counselling at a time and place suiting your convenience – at home or office or even when you are travelling. You simply need to choose the communication mode that suits your needs. Telephone, Email, Instant Messaging, online audio or video chat or some combination of these options works well too.
  • Private and discreet ­-You can get counselling in the privacy of your own home or any other secure place. No one needs to know you are getting counselling if you don’t want them to – and you don’t need to seek ‘permission’ from family members to get counselling if you fear they may not understand or appreciate it.
  • Anonymous ­- You may feel embarrassed or awkward about what others might think about your issues. With e­-counselling, you can choose to remain anonymous if you so desire.
  • Saves time & money ­- By choosing online counselling, you can save hours of travel time. You also save on the waiting time as counsellors are often so busy that getting an appointment can be rather difficult.
  • Maintain records ­- You can keep recordings or transcripts of your sessions with the counsellor. You will also have access to all the online submissions you may have made to your counsellor – especially homework tasks such as mood diaries, results of experiments, self-awareness exercises, etc. If you choose email counselling, you can go back and re-read your email exchange with the counsellor. You can even track your progress over time.
  • Sharing is richer  – By choosing email counselling or Instant messaging, you may be able to share more openly and explicitly with your counsellor, because many of us find it easier to express our inner thoughts in writing. Putting things down in black and white also enhances our self-reflection and awareness.

With the option of video counselling using online platforms like Skype, the face-­to-­face aspect of traditional in­-person therapy also gets incorporated into online sessions, making them even more effective.

How do I sign up for an online ­counselling session?
  • Booking a session is really simple; it involves 4 easy steps:

     Step 1 – Submit Online Request

    All you have to do is sign up and log-in. You will have to fill up and submit a counselling request form online providing basic information such your name, age, etc, as well as your preferred mode of counselling:– Face-to-face, telephone, email, instant messaging, Skype audio chat or Skype video chat.

     You will also need to sign the Service Agreement between you and the Counsellor/coach before the sessions can begin.

     Within 48 hours of the receipt of your online form, you should hear from us.

     Step 2 – Book session

    Your counsellor / coach will book your initial FREE consultation at a mutually convenient time. You may also want to schedule further follow up sessions to avoid long gaps between sessions.

     Step 3 – Make A Payment

    Next, you need to make an online payment for your follow up sessions. By booking multiple sessions, you can avail of special discounts.

     Step 4 ¬ Participate in Counselling / Coaching Session

    This will be a 45-60 minute session as per your chosen time, place and format.

What information do I need to share with the counsellor?
  • It is always advisable to be completely honest with your counsellor so that they can help you to the best of their abilities and you can maximise your benefits.

    Some of the things you should share with your counsellor include:

    • any past experience you may have of counselling or therapy
    • any medications you may be taking currently or have done in the recent past
    • any mental health issue you may have – whether or not you have had treatment for it in the past
    • if you are being physically abused by someone
    • if you fear for your safety
    • if you have suicidal thoughts
Are there some people who should not choose online counselling?
  • Yes. The support provided though online sessions can be insufficient for clients with serious issues such as suicidal tendencies or those  facing a life-­threatening situation. Online counselling is also not advisable for clients suffering from serious mental health issues such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, hallucinations and acute substance abuse.

    Such clients should immediately be referred for/opt for in-­person face-­to-­face counselling.

What is Life Coaching?
  • Coaching is training or development in which a person, called a coach, supports a learner in achieving a specific personal or professional goal….coaching focuses on specific tasks and objectives, rather than general goals or overall development.” – Wikipedia 

     So if you are struggling to motivate yourself to achieve your goals, then a coach is just what you may need.

     Your life coach will be:

    – your mentor who believes in you and helps you set otherwise hard-to-achieve goals

    – your own personal manager who helps you set strategies and actions to achieve those goals

    – your personal trainer who encourages you to stretch and challenge yourself and who supports you to stay the course to the finish line.

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