What is psychological counseling?

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  • Post last modified:2023.05.08.
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Psychological counseling can provide support in coping with stresses that occur in every human life. These can be blockages, indecision, and changes in life circumstances.

What is psychological counseling and how does it differ from psychotherapy?
Compared to psychotherapy, psychological counseling works with more transparent inner conflicts and concrete questions. It has a shorter duration. Its goal is to restore the optimal functioning and decision-making ability of the personality.

„Everyone is an expert for his own life”.

It is important to emphasize that the counselor does not give direct advice or make decisions for the person seeking advice, but on the contrary is guided by the goal of helping the person regain the ability to make appropriate decisions about their own problems.

I work with a person-centered approach, but I am also imbued with a constructivist view of reality, an existentialist view of human beings, and a systemic approach.

According to the person-centered approach….
…there is an enormous potential for self-knowledge and the capacity for positive change in every person. The task of the supportive relationship in counseling is to mobilize these reserves.

Person-centered counseling has three main characteristics:
1. empathetic understanding, i.e. the helper tries to understand the client’s world as he/she experiences it;

2. unconditional acceptance, i.e. the helper does not try to lead the person seeking advice to a universal ideal, but accepts him/her as unique, just as he/she is;;

3. authenticity, i.e. the helping person does not assume a role, but is present in the relationship with his or her whole being.

All this fits well with the constructivist view of reality, according to which…
… there is an objective reality, but no human being can fully grasp it, but only a section that is conveyed to us through our own experience and the filter of our personality. The latter is the subjective reality.

Thus, objective reality exists independently of what we think about it.

Intersubjective reality is also an important concept because it is the social organizing force of the human species. An example is money. In today’s world, we often cannot see it or touch it, but we are able to trade on it based on our shared beliefs. But such an intersubjective reality is also a worldview or a religion or a family culture.

An existentialist view of humanity:
Following existentialist philosophy, all people must face the fundamental challenges of human existence: Death, freedom, isolation, and meaninglessness.

Systemic thinking:
„If one element of the system changes, the whole system changes.”
„The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

We are social beings defined by our relationships – or lack thereof. We were born of a mother and had a father who procreated. If they are involved in our lives, we are defined by their presence; if not, unfortunately, we are defined by their absence. This is true for many generations to come. Part of this is the fact that change can occur on three levels and we can have different effects on them.

The first is the level of what is happening „here and now,” the second is the individual life story, and the third is the context: the historical period, the natural and built environment, and the society in which we live.

Individual psychological counseling
„Life produces strange things – sometimes you can use some help”.

Ambiguity and certain thinking errors in the perception of reality, an unrealistic self-image and inexperience can also make it difficult to build viable and sustainable relationships with others.

In everyone’s development, crises occur in predictable ways that present similar challenges and difficulties for all people. These include maturation, the growing up of children.

But also starting out on one’s own, leaving one’s family of origin, entering into a relationship, moving in together, possibly getting married, having children, and the birth of a child in the family. It’s also about starting a job, changing jobs and losing them. It is also about getting older, changing age, losing loved ones.

In all cases, we may need outside support because our own coping strategies are not effective enough. In such cases, psychological counseling can also provide support.

– I am dissatisfied with my life and I want to change.
– I don’t like my job, I want to change professionally
– I am worried about who exactly am I?
– I am lonely, but I want a relationship
– I am in a relationship, but we are stuck
– I have lost someone close to me
– My life has changed very fast, I can’t keep up with it
– I have moved to another country and I am having a hard time with it
– I feel different from the majority
– I define myself as LMBTQ+, but I fear that I will not find understanding in my family environment

Psychological counseling for couples or families
„What Peter says about Paul says more about Peter than it does about Paul”.
„We are social beings, we are defined by our relationships. Or lack thereof.
Constructivists say, „There is no real understanding, only happy misunderstandings.”

The ambiguous images of Gestalt psychology illustrate this – in one and the same picture we see an old lady or a young girl. In a relationship, in a family, there are many such situations, and our family members are usually very close to us emotionally, which often leads to quick emotional reactions in tense situations. 

Mutual understanding and acceptance can be developed, as well as self-expression and the ability to meet one’s own needs. These are mutually reinforcing processes