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Counselling Well

Change may not be simple. Do not assume much if you can avoid it.

"Cognitive therapies have been found to be among the most effective approaches for helping clients with depression, generalized anxiety, phobias, panic disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorders. (Meier and Davis 2011, 66)." Person-centered counselling has documented results to show for it too. A result of efforts to assemble parts from different approaches is called Integrative.

Narrative therapy, NT, is an old possibility. (Brudal 1986).

"Stories [for healing] are powerful because all people actively seek to make sense of their lives through plausible narratives." Further, "One of the advantages of NT is that since all therapists pay attention to language to some degree, it can be combined with almost any other counseling approach." (Meier and Davis 2011, 75, 76).

An integrative approach

The benefits of counseling may derive from elements common to several therapeutic approaches. Discerning an underlying worldview could be fit (Gordon Allport, Becoming).

Consider some possible, common stages of change that clients may pass through toward betterments or whatever. Theoretically,

Resolving problems of resolving problems

Sutton and Stewart tell us how formal counselling is neither advice giving nor persuasion, nor exercising undue influence (2009, 3-4). It should be fit for a counsellor to be genuine, show adequate regard, understand the other and his or her frame of reference, and respond tolerably. (Ibid. 27-42)

If it comes to helping another resolve a problem, basic handling in problem solving and helping the client become more assertive may backfire unless discussing at the client's pace. To draw several threads of thought together may be called for. A fit aim may be to help another understand one or several problems they experience (Ibid. 157-76, 196, 132).

Counselling in the common sense of 'giving advice', does not have to be formal. In a friendly or other exchange of views, many thoughts may be directed toward helping someone address and resolve main problems and work through his or her feelings. Main sides to the art are to explore, understand and resolve what comes up. (Ibid. 2). Yet, "telling people what they should do or ought to do, often conflicts with the essential meaning of counselling, for "counsellors seek to help clients look at what is possible, but they avoid telling clients what they should do." (Ibid. 3). Further:

Advice may be appropriate . . . when clients' thoughts are clearly confused or they feel overwhelmed following a traumatic event. At such times the counsellor will exercise greater caution than when clients are fully responsive and responsible. Advice offered and accepted when in crisis, and then acted upon, could prove to be . . . not totally apt to meet the client's needs. When people are in a state of shock or under stress they are vulnerable. For all those reasons, counsellors are wary about responding to a request for advice. (Ibid. 3)

As for persuasion, "it is "in direct conflict with at least one principle of counselling – self-direction – the client's right to choose for themselves their course of action." (Ibid. 4)

This concept of self-direction, based on personal freedom, is the touchstone of the non-directive approach to counselling but is present in most others. (Ibid. 4)

Also, influencing others against these sound principles, may smack of manipulation. Sutton and Stewart:

The dividing line between manipulation and seeking ways and means to resolve a problem may not always be easily seen, but the deciding factor must be who benefits? (Ibid 5)

And for all that, there may be exceptions to many a rule of the thumb. But sound and fair counselling skills may come in handy in many areas.


Being Religious - Wearing Masks

It may be said: "The sharing of ideas may serve as informal counselling, adequate or not."

Make a distinction between religious and spiritual.

Religiousness is rooted in conformity for most part. There can be a risk of indoctrination there.

Conformity can be good or bad and a mixture of good and bad, depending on one's stage of development, stage of life, and what sort of conformism is demanded, overtly and covertly, as the case may be. Quite good conformity does not have to be forsaken - most likely. For the young and tender, much, sound protection could be a great help somehow. In time the protection is done away with if the tree is all right and big enough. If so, conformity is harldy any yes-or-no thing.

Bad religiousness and its bad conformism is founded on awkward thinking, maybe outright lies and bluffs too, and gives neurotic adaptations or worse. Some who have ended up in cults or sects may know what bad religiousness may be. It can thwart the healthy development of the individual.

However, if a person has gone from bad to far worse inside, maybe his or her range of activity and influence had better be limited. A convent or tight sect might then operate as an alternative to jail - perhaps. Some monastic settings may stand comparison to low-key asylums and jails surrounded by thick walls and massive indoctrination. What is called kriya yoga may be fine in a monastic setting.

Yoga Yajnavalkya refers to "five sorts of pratyahara". By such wording he speaks of five ways to have it. (chapter 7). We should see to that we do not come to harm through any method, though.


Alternative Treatments

Edward Bach remedies may be used for self-help endevours in many cases.

Meditation can affect health for good. Documentedly.


Guru Alf and Similar

Knowe thy selfe . . . knowe what thou arte able, fitte and apt vnto, and folowe that. [R. Ascham, 1545]

In some places of Autobiography of a Yogi, the author and his secretaries drew a little bit on material from early Self-Realization Magazines.

It could also work well to allow some (mental) space for mystery and unsettled issues, not unlike:

Who knows these things,
Who can here decide?

[Rigveda 10:129;6]

This is left out from later editions of Yogananda's poem "Samadhi":

. . . good, bad, salvation, lust,
I swallowed, transmuted all
Into a vast ocean of blood . . . [Link].

Figurative blood-thirst is odious. Otherwise, figurate mentions may work all right, as in the mysterious case of Guru Alf - maybe. However, Yogananda's SRF Church tried to "squeeze the life-blood" out of a competitor, Ananda. Then, on 16 December 2002, SRF and Ananda came to terms on many issues after many years of battling in court (and off court).


Meditation counsel, Literature  

Meier, Scott. and Susan R. Davis. 2011. Elements of Counseling. 7th ed. Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole.

Sutton, Jan, and William Stewart. 2009. Learning to Counsel: Develop the Skills, Insight and Knowledge to Counsel Others. 3rd ed., amended reprint. Oxford: How To Books.

Yogananda, Paramahansa. Sayings of Paramahansa Yogananda. 4th ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1980.

Harvesting the hay

Symbols, brackets, signs and text icons explained: (1) Text markers(2) Digesting.

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