Features of counselling

Doctors can respond to patients' problems and distress by a spectrum of behaviours from doctor-centred directive behaviour or advice at one end, to patient-centred non-directive behaviour at the other. In handling psychosocial problems, advice giving is at one end of the spectrum and psychotherapy at the other.

Patient-centred Doctor-centred

Pyschotherapy ^ Advice Counselling

Counselling, as an activity in general practice, can be represented by a moving point between these two extremes. 1

Counselling can be seen as having the following features: 1

• It is a clear-cut treatment option like a course of antibiotics.

• It is a co-operative problem-solving process.

• It is an educational venture where patients learn new information and new activities.

• It is a developmental process for patients.

• It is a change process—often moving a patient from a 'stuck state'.

• It is a goal-directed activity.

• It is a process of energising patients and lifting their morale.

• It is a sensitive response to problems within a caring relationship.

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