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What is Counselling?

Updated: Jul 6, 2020

Definitions from some leading professional counselling bodies in Singapore and internationally.

Singapore Association of Counselling (SAC)

In its article Planning a Career in Counselling in Singapore?, it provides more information that talks about training, professional practices, what is NOT counselling, the qualities and commitment of a counsellor and personal qualities. Read the website publication here.

American Counselling Association (ACA)

ACA is founded in 1952 and is the world's largest association exclusively representing professional counselors in various practice settings. The delegates comprised of 31 counseling organizations at 20/20: A Vision for the Future of Counseling, agreed upon a unified definition of counseling as

"A professional relationship that empowers diverse individuals, families, and groups to accomplish mental health, wellness, education and career goals. (2014)

Ministry of Education (MOE) Singapore

In its definition adapted from the late Mr Anthony Yeo, who was instrumental in the development of Singapore’s counselling field in its early years, Ministry of Education defines counselling as

"... a collaborative process in which the counsellor or psychologist facilitates the expansion of the student’s view of life, enlarges his repertoire of coping resources and enables him to make choices for change in himself, the situation and the environment, without destructive consequences to self or others." (2015)

British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)

UK's leading professional body for counselling professions explains:

"Therapy provides a safe and confidential space for you to talk to a trained professional about your issues and concerns. Your therapist will help you explore your thoughts, feelings and behaviours so you can develop a better understanding of yourself and of others.

A counsellor will not give you their opinions or advice or prescribe medication. They will help you find your own solutions – whether that’s making effective changes in your life or finding ways of coping with your problems."

Read more from their website on:

  • What happens in counselling

  • What to expect in your first counselling session

  • How to get most out of your therapy

Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA)

"Professional counselling is a safe and confidential* collaboration between qualified counsellors and clients to promote mental health and wellbeing, enhance self-understanding, and resolve identified concerns. Clients are active participants in the counselling process at every stage."

Read more here.

*Confidentiality is limited when there are risks to the safety of the client or others.

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