What is Adolescent Counselling?
The counselling can create change in the person and because of counselling and counsellor’s role you can solve your own problems effectively.
So what is meant by counselling and how is it done scientifically for adolescent children? Let us see the actual process of counselling specially for the adolescent children as well as their parents…..
Conversation in a family –
“Our daughter is in the tenth standard. She never obeys me, always back answers me and is not concentrating on her studies. Most of the time she stays out and is very conscious about her appearance. I think something is wrong with her! Should we consult a doctor? Why is she behaving in a crazy manner? And I don’t know why she has changed a lot in six months. We must take some action.” Mother complained to father
“Don’t worry. A friend of mine will talk to her and will guide her. I’ll also talk to her and you also tell her some valuable things. This will settle the matter. We never behaved in this manner even at her age. We were scared of our parents. The other day, I took her left and right regarding studies but she just listened with a bowed head and just kept mum. In spite of all this she continued with her crazy behavior . I’ve done counselling for her but it is of no use!” Father’s statement.
Many times, we say that I do counselling. In the above mentioned conversation, the father also feels that he has done counseling to daughter. But counselling is never one sided. It means sometimes when a person is in the problem and when somebody from family or friend give him/her some kind of advice which may not be practical and not based on reality. For the time being, the person also feels release from the problem but actually the situation is on the same platform. In the above mentioned example, the girl was not benefited because of her father’s advice. So what is done in the process of counselling? The answer to this question is negative. Giving advice to a person on the basis of our own experience and knowledge is not counselling. There are many myths and misconceptions about counselling. Those are, counseling means giving advice or dictating other person or throwing philosophical knowledge or giving readymade solutions. But counselling is a very different concept. Let us see the real meaning of it –
Counselling is not giving advice. Counselling doesn’t mean giving some advice or trying to impose the views on others. It’s a long process which includes discussion with the troubled person using professional communication skill and knowledge. This includes establishing a professional relationship with the person and helping him to express his feelings and problems. The counsellor discusses and helps to solve the problems. Some practical options are kept, many angles and dimensions put forth to think by the counselor to the troubled person and he/she is helped genuinely so that he/she can solve his/her problems on his/her own. This is a long process and many skills and techniques are used during it. A deep study of the personality is done. This process is expected to make changes in the behavior pattern and thoughts of the person.
Process of Counselling : When the counselor talks to the client, he trusts the person and listens to him empathetically. Many times, there can be the outburst of emotions while listening to the client so the counselor experiences it as a witness. It is called Empathy. Person with the problem may feel shy in expressing his feelings or even cry in front of the family members, relatives or friends. Then, the counselor accepts the person with all his emotional bursts very subtly and at the same time, is totally non-judgmental and indicates it. The counselor believes in the fact that the person in front is truly troubled due to the emotional stress, tension, suffering. So the person in front feels relaxed and speaks freely about mental torment or suffering, thoughts and emotional status. So client feels that Somebody is going to consider me makes the person feel relieved and in that lightened mood, becomes ready to find a solution to the problem.
Need of Counselling : Many times, the question asked is why should I change? If the other person is not ready to change, what’s the use of counselling for me? It’s right to feel why I should change. But everything lies in it. Counselling can develop the feeling that if I change, the other person will change. Many people feel that the person near me needs counselling and then the attempt is to make the counselor convince him/her. But the counselor points out that the one suffering from the emotional disturbance is the one in need of the counselling. At that time, the counselor guides the client how to look at the problem from all angles and dimensions and make him realize that how he himself is responsible for the problem. It leads to the client’s facing the situation confidently. But it requires to be given a certain time.
Counselling – for whom? : We face problems in our daily life such as marital disharmony, family disputes, behavioral problems of children, sexual problems, financial problems, problems of senior citizens etc. We try hard to come out of these problems at our level. But sometimes, it creates emotional disturbance and social pressure. Some relations get hampered and troublesome and finally it affects the daily life. Then the person is not ready to come out of the past, leading to the negative attitude, anxiety and apathy. The person wants someone to understand and empathies with him and help him to come out of it. At such times, there is no guarantee that others around us will help us. Then the counselor proves to be beneficial and the same person becomes ready to take up the challenge.
Let’s take a simple example. The seniors in the office are angry with a certain person and they have pointed out the mistakes in front of others. Now this is the opportunity provided to rectify the mistakes. But the person gets angry with the seniors for pointing out the mistakes and insulting in front of others so that individual starts being angry with the family members and insulting the elderly people to give a vent to that anger. If it happens again and again, that person’s confidence gets shattered and burst of his anger becomes frequent. Then the counselor puts forward the comparative analysis of his feelings and his behavioral pattern without hurting him. What is leading to that anger? Is it the anger of making mistakes in the office, getting insulted in front of others or the seniors do it to the junior, or of everything of it? The counselor helps to provoke to think about all the issues. The counselor brings out the options about how to accept the self anger and how to manage and express it properly. He makes the person to speak about how to become smart in the work to be done in the office rather than unnecessarily thinking that his work will be perfect and precise. The counsellor gives positive support to the person which boosts his morale. When such a client comes, the counselor supports his process of taking the right decision. He keeps fact in front of the client to make objective and subjective analysis and leads him from negative approach to positive approach. This process is vital in scientific counselling.
Who are skilled counsellors? : Counsellors are classified in two categories. First are those who do it according to their convenience, which means those who haven’t taken scientific training of counseling and still they do counseling but unable to give good results. Secondly, the trained psychologists and professional social workers act as the counselors. Basically, dealing with individuals of different personality patterns and different temperaments is a skill. So it is necessary to see to it that the counsellor is trained before going to him/her. Otherwise, chances of getting success in this field is very difficult.
Also anybody can learn it. Not only getting a training of scientific counselling changes the approach of looking towards ourselves but it also helps in self counselling . The training of counselling contains Self- awareness, Self-counselling and Counselling to others. After going through these three steps, there is a good opportunity to work as a trained counsellor.
Counselling process for adolescence : Adolescent children have different kinds of problems. Many children are not aware of the effects of hormonal changes, most of the time even parents are not aware of it. At such times, through the systematic counselling, these children and their parents are given information about these changes in them. The conflicts between adolescent boys; even girls and parents begin due to GRIEF process. Parents doesn’t realize when their children have entered in Adolescence after finishing their childhood. Excessive expectations from each other, parents’ extreme or low confidence for children, children’s performance regarding Academic intelligence, strange notions about sexual differences, lack of understanding about children, comparison with other children and even with sibling add to that clash.
“Our son, Pradeep, is very clever and gets good marks. How did he score so less in the SSC exam?”
“Payal is so spoilt now a days that she doesn’t listen to us, speaks rudely. She might have copied to get so many marks. We listen to such extreme remarks. The counselor helps the parents to have expectations from the children on the basis of the reality and rationality. The counselor can show different angles and dimensions about children’s emotional needs and what they are going through and what are their needs and how parents should react accordingly to it. The counselor generally shows his emotional consent about the parents’ worries and feelings and helps them to reach the exact thought process. The counselor generally shows his emotional consent about the parents’ worries and feelings and helps them to reach the exact thought process.
When adolescent children come for counselling, they are afraid that the counsellor will make them act according to the expectations and complaints of their parents. But actually, in the process of counselling, everything is discussed with them in their language by reaching to their level and without hurting them, they are informed about many things affectionately, without any criticism on them. Their feelings are respected. Sometimes even by talking against their parents, their feelings about their parents are extracted. So children also talk freely in this counselling process and they are given appropriate guidance.
As mentioned before, parenting an adolescent child is really very difficult and risky too.
“My son Tanay is behaving very indifferently with me. I got divorced six months back and so he is with me. I work in a firm from 9 to 6. Saturday is a half day and Sunday is a holiday for me. We can enjoy each other’s company after 8 at night. I literally get drained out by then but still make it a point to give him quality time. Now he is in the ninth standard. But he is very irresponsible. There is no discipline in his behavior. He doesn’t keep his room tidy and even talks very arrogantly with me. Let me tell you an incident that happened two days back. He came home in the afternoon from school. I was ironing my sari. I told him to have his food but he demanded that I should serve him. I told him that I was busy, why he didn’t help himself. He got annoyed at this point and crushed my sari. Then even I got annoyed and burnt him with the hot iron. Now he has become very strong physically and he just twisted my arm. I got irritated and hurt due to his action. How can a son hurt his mother? So I called my friend and shared it with her. She called him and told him to apologize for his wrong behavior. He said that he has not done any mistake and so he need not apologize for it. I was shocked about his behavior and reaction. He doesn’t have any feelings about me. I myself took his custody from the court because his father’s nature is very difficult. He would have done anything with us. So we got separated six months back. Now he stays in a different place. I wanted my son with me. But I don’t know why he is behaving like this; I won’t be able to bare it. I even asked him whether I should send him to his father’s place or in a boarding school but he refused. He says he wants to be with me. Then why is he behaving like this? He is not opening out. I’m very worried about him. He doesn’t have any sibling also and so I just don’t understand his psychology. His academic progress is also decreasing. I keep on telling him to study but he just ignores me. He is busy with television and computer games all the time. He used to score 90 – 95% marks till the fifth or sixth standard but now he is not going above 75%. I’m very worried about his future. Now my well wishers are suggesting me to get remarried. He gets disturbed with that topic. I just don’t understand what I should do. I want him to make his career and nobody should say any wrong thing about me. His father has taken the financial responsibility of his education but I have to look after all other things. I just don’t understand how to talk to him. Will you please talk to him?”
I said, “I can understand your problem. Tanay is in adolescent age now. But you may not have accepted it. Another thing is are you insecured that whether he is going away from you psychologically? I think You are confused that whether you will be able to take his responsibility properly or not because you have to do it all alone and you are not getting the results of whatever relationship you are expecting between you and your son. I will talk to him for sure but first I would like to find out the reasons behind your disturbed relationship and help you to harmonies it.”
She said, “You are right! Please talk to him. I want to know what is going on in his mind.”
I said, “Yes, I’ll talk to him.”
Tanay entered with a sweet smile.
I asked him, “What do you think? Why has your mother brought you here?”
He said, “Nowadays, she has become very irritating. The other day, I had gone to my friend’s place for a night out with her permission. We watched a movie till 10.30 at night. I came home early morning and went to school on time but couldn’t carry my Tiffin. When I came home from school, I was very hungry and so I asked her for food. Instead of giving me something to eat, she started shouting at me. She said that because I watched a movie late at night, I got late for school and couldn’t carry the tiffin. I didn’t understand my fault! So I got annoyed and shouted at her and scrambled her sari which she was ironing and to my surprise she burnt me with the hot iron! I was shocked and started crying. Since then, she feels that I don’t obey her. But that’s not true. I love her and always want to be with her. I don’t like my father. He is addicted to alcohol and is very dirty and untidy. Even when I go to him just for a day or two, he never treats me properly. When I return from his place, even my mother gets annoyed with me. I just don’t understand why all these things are happening. Even prior to this incident, I had gone to my father’s place for four days.”
I said, “Oh! It means that you are confused about your mother’s behaviour and about her expectations about you, right?”
He said, “To be honest, I don’t get along with this environment. We were in Dubai till last year. My father lost his job there and then we came to India. But I want to go back again. I told my mother about it. I don’t know the problem but she says that we can’t return now. I feel very sad.”
I said, “Ok! It means that many things changed because of your parents’ divorce and you are unable to cope up with the changed situation, right?”
The above mentioned case shows that a single parent’s anxiety reflects in their relationship with their children and it disturbs their children’s behavior. But if the communication is transparent, then children respond and co-operate very well. Otherwise, they feel that they are treated mysteriously which leads to their indifferent behavior.
Vishwajeet and his father had come to me for the first time and his father was complaining about him. But when I talked to Vishwajeet I didn’t find anything wrong. He was talking very maturely and was complaining about his father. He said that his father ignores him. When I talked to his father, he regretted that Vishwajeet’s mother was a very irresponsible person; he had a very bad married life. I let him open his heart out and got to know that he and his wife needed counselling more than Vishwajeet. Then I called Vishwajeet’s mother. When she came to meet me she was very anxious and worried. She was very much in need of opening out her feelings. Instead of talking about Vishwajeet, she talked about their difficult married life for the next three – four sessions.
The parents expect their children to change in this situation instead of changing themselves. In this situation, the counsellor has to carefully convince them that instead of children, they themselves need counselling. These parents are over concerned about their children’s future. They feel that if he is lying in such a young age, he/she is not studying well, it will affect his/her future, he/she will waste his life etc. These parents are surrounded with an aura of worries. Let us see what type of worries they face –
Will the difference of opinion between the parents affect their children?
What if one of the parents has some Psychiatric disorder?
Whether the financial condition of the parents is complimentary to the upbringing of the children?
Do parents or especially the father have any type of addiction like Alcohol, smoking etc.?
Will differences, arguments or sometimes beating between the parents affect the child’s behavior?
If parents are ignorant about sexual knowledge or have a narrow view related to that, does this reflect in the children’s crazy behavior?
If one of the parents or both have remarried, will it affect the child?
If the adolescent girl/boy is an adopted child, can the parents handle him/her properly now?
If the parents were not ready for a child at the time of the child’s birth or had Unwanted child’s birth, will that affect the child in his adolescent age?
Whether the parents create a neglected feeling in an adolescent child’s mind by comparing with another sibling?
If both the parents are working, do they pamper their children out of a guilt feeling?
Does one of the parents unknowingly reflect his stress and irritation on their children?
If parents are going through any of the above mentioned problems, it becomes difficult for them to deal with adolescent children; because the changes in children are very normal and natural but parents are not in a position to understand, accept and deal with these changes. So without any reluctance, the parents should accept their child’s adolescent phase as this is going to help them and their children also. All the parents feel that development of their adolescent children should be proper but they are confused about the direction. They can take help of this book in that situation. Over all development of children includes physical, Psychological, sexual, social, cultural, intellectual and financial development. If parents have definite views about it, it can definitely give a boost to the development of the child’s personality.
Let us see some different patterns of parenting. Both the parents may not come in the same category. Mother and father’s type of parenting can be different. It has a collective effect on the children. In the process of counselling, the counsellor gives idea about their parenting pattern to both or one parent (if it is single parenting).
Authoritarian Parenting: Everyone in the family is afraid of these types of parents. They tend to use their authority too often and too much. It is likely that they got the same authoritarian kind of parenting in their childhood. The discipline is too much important and rules are very strict for their children. Children are pressurized by their presence. This type of parenting hinders the natural growth of the child. No freedom is given to the child and all decisions are taken by parents, so child becomes shy, submissive, oversensitive, anxious, skeptical about their own decisions, socially maladjusted. They can’t take their own decisions even after they grow up.
Permissive Parenting: They give total freedom to their children when it is necessary to control the behavior of the children. They are sometimes overprotective and try to prevent their children to take small risks. They pamper their children so children try to dominate these kinds of parents. These parents might have been the victims of extreme Authoritarian parenting in their childhood. Children are totally insensitive to feelings of people around them. They lack sense of responsibility and can’t adjust easily with the surroundings. They become stubborn, aggressive and selfish and can’t make compromises with the society.
Uninvolved Parenting: These parents generally ignore the requirements of their children; rather they are not ready for parenting. They are not interested in upbringing of their children. Most of the time child may be unwanted. Parents themselves are involved with their own problems severely and they might be pessimistic and dissatisfied with their own life. The child may become aggressive and hostile towards life. He may seek attention from everyone. He may become arrogant. In reverse, child may become shy, introvert, depressed, withdrawn due to fear and sometimes he may run away from home.
Authoritative Parenting: They take deep interest in the upbringing of the child but they don’t indulge or over pamper. Child feels emotional and secured with them. These types of parents recognize the mistakes and limitations of the child, so they never impose their opinions on child and care for their feelings. They help the child to be independent. Children become co-operative, socially well adjusted, emotionally stable, caring, sincere, outspoken, confident, ambitious and respectful towards elderly.
Counselling of Adolescent Children:
We have seen in Sejal’s case that just few words of her favourite topic helped her to open up. I talked to her parents and continued some sessions with her. Let us see what type of subjects should be discussed with adolescent children and the type of guidance that they need.
First of all, I discussed about the menstrual cycle with Sejal and gave her all the relative information about sex with the help of a pictorial presentation.
a) Giving Sexual Education – In the beginning, a friendly relationship is developed with these children and they are asked about their values. Then they are given information about sex in a simple manner as per their capacity. It includes –
1) What is sexuality?
2) How to accept sexual feelings of their own?
3) What is physical attraction?
4) What is masturbation? How is it done in men and women? Why is it done?
5) Introduction to male-female reproductive system and genital organs.
6) Detailed information about menstrual cycle.
7) The types of sexual intercourse.
8) Pregnancy and delivery.
9) Contraceptive methods.
10) Reproductive tract infections(RTI) due to unhygienic conditions
Along with all these things, children are asked about their queries and fears. It is done in a safe and comfortable atmosphere. They are given books to read on this subject. The counsellor makes the children comfortable so that they can ask any question or query without hesitation. They are given information about physiology and along with that their social and emotional views are also discussed.
b) Stress management – The tensions of children are discussed and they are helped to manage them with different techniques.
c) Guidance related to study techniques – There can be unawareness about ‘why to study’ and ‘the future use of study.’ So they are guided about different techniques of study. (We have studied about this topic in this book in ‘The Importance of Studies’)
d) Addiction – What is addiction? Guidance about avoiding a negative addiction in this age; values related to addiction and preventive measures.
e) Career guidance – This is especially for the 10th and 12th standard students. Guidance related to job or business is given. If necessary, an aptitude test is done to find out the academic interest of the child. The discussion starts with parents about what is career and what efforts should be taken for that.