The Process of Counselling

Counselling is a process where the client and the counsellor make a combined effort to resolve the conflicts the client has been facing. The process of counselling can be led by several types of therapy such as cognitive behavioural therapy, psychodynamic therapy, mindfulness-based therapy, and more. Here we bring to you a common and fluid process of counselling which is more or less followed in any approach. Counselling as a process is very flexible and is customized by the counsellor according to the needs of the client. The end goal of this process is to fulfill the client’s needs. The process of counselling is very subjective and depends majorly on the client’s needs and their requirements. The time frame of this process can also vary from client to client.

Here is a basic framework for the process of counselling which helps the therapist structure therapy and gets the best results:


1. Intake Examination & Case History

The first step begins with the counsellor taking an ‘intake examination’ and ‘case history’ wherein the counsellor records personal information of the client. The case history is a process where the counsellor attempts to get an in-depth understanding of the client’s background.


2. Rapport Building

Next, the counsellor works towards gaining the trust of the client and creates a safe space where the client is comfortable. This means creating a safe space for open conversations to the extent which the client feels comfortable sans judgment or pressure. The counsellor then attempts to customize the therapy session according to the needs of the client.


3. Problem assessment

This is a significant step in the process, that is built on the rapport and understanding established. Here, the issues are addressed, and the counsellor explains the problems a client is going through. For instance, it could be individual mood problems, relationship issues, addictions, or habits. It sets the stage in deciding the kind of treatment plan that’ll benefit the client the most.


4. Goal Setting

In this step there is a combined effort from both the client and the counsellor where they derive inputs from the problem assessment. They will work together to set goals for the upcoming therapy sessions.


5. Therapy/Intervention

Once the goal is agreed upon, the counsellor recommends therapeutic interventions that would aid the client thereafter.


6. Termination of Therapy

This is the final stage of counselling where the process is terminated or concluded.

Note: There might be minor changes subject to the therapist and the method they use, this is just an overview of what to expect.

Some of these steps might not be a part of the process - for instance, in some cases where the client is dealing with trauma or abuse, it is different. Clients dealing with grief and seeking supportive therapy might not need goal setting and some others might take lesser time to trust the counsellor shortening the timeframe for rapport building. To conclude, the process highly revolves around the client and is not a very rigid process.

There can never be an overarching timeframe that can be given in treating mental health.

It helps to keep in mind this is a very individualistic and personal process and can never be a ‘one shoe fits all’ scenario.