The dictionary describes counseling as provision of advice or guidance in decision-making, in particularly in emotionally significant situations. Counselors
help their clients
by counseling them. Counselors also help clients explore and understand their worlds and so discover better ways of thinking and living.
…help clients understand and clarify their views of their lifespace, and to learn to reach their self-determined goals through meaning ful, well-informed choices and through resolution or problems of an emotional or interpersonal nature. (Burks and Steffire, 1979)
…work with individuals and with relationships which may be developmental, crisis support, psychotherapeutic, guiding or problem-solving… (BAC 1984)
The task of counseling is to give the client an opportunity to explore, discover and clarify ways of giving more satisfyingly and resourcefully. (BAC 1984)
A principled relationship characterized by the application of one or more psychological theories and a recognized set of communication skills, modified by experience, intuition and other interpersonal factors, to clients’ intimate concerns, problems or aspirations. (Feltham and Dryden, 1993)
A common factor in most counseling situations is that the client is demoralized, distressed or otherwise in a negative state of mind about something.
Counseling can be for one person or a group (typically couples and families) and may be delivered through a number of methods, from face-face dialogue, group work, telephone, email and written materials.
Counseling is largely a voluntary activity whereby clients must wish to change and collaborate willingly with the counselor. Early counseling activity in some cases involves bringing referred clients to this point of readiness.