“Counseling is a professional relationship that empowers diverse individuals, families, and groups to accomplish mental health, wellness, education, and career goals.” - (Kaplan et al., 2013) 20/20: A Vision for the Future of Counseling: The New Consensus Definition of Counseling
In counseling (also sometimes referred to as psychotherapy or, simply, therapy), mental health providers (or counselors or therapists) work collaboratively with people of all backgrounds to foster emotional/mental growth and healing. People often come to therapy because they are struggling with complex emotions, problems with relationships, or challenges getting through the day because of mental health related difficulties. Others are seeking ways to live happier, more productive, and generally healthier lives. Depending on peoples’ unique experiences, situations, and backgrounds, therapy can take on a variety of forms. Therapy can involve everything from learning skills to cope with a current stressful situation, to processing past experiences and social influences on one’s life. From the very start, and throughout the therapy process, therapists work to provide a supportive environment that allows people to talk and feel openly and freely in a confidential space. This involves continuously working to recognize and consider the impact of sociocultural issues, such as racism, homophobia, sexism, xenophobia, transphobia, and more, on the mental health of both individuals and communities. Therapist and client also work collaboratively to apply lessons, insights, and skills learned in-session to the client’s life outside of session.