© 2012INTRODUCTIONHelping professions have become a fundamental inclusion in our modern-day problematic existence. Leading normal lives void of any upheavals has become the most challenging thing in our times. Many of us have been on the receiving end, struggling with some aspects of our lives that have proven to be somewhat problematic. To our reprieve, some professions have been developed whose core business is to help us solve both our personal and societal problems. These professions have variously come to be known as ‘helping professions’ as they ‘help’ individuals solve their particular problems.
In regard to this, research has identified certain occupations as being part of the ‘helping professions’ in line with what they do to the society (Heather and Mark, 2008). David (2001) and Egan (2002) name social work, counselling, psychiatry, the clergy, homes for the aged and other ‘informal helpers’ as being among the renowned helping professions that assist us lead smooth lives. When the foregoing occupations are considered collectively, it is realised that their daily work involves supporting people who are in distress to overcome their gloom.
The unifying factor in this realisation is that all the mentioned categories of helpers are found to apply the skills of counselling in their endevours. Unfortunately, research findings strongly point out that majority of the helping professions mentioned here lack substantial training in counselling that can further develop their helping skills (Bond and Sue, 2004). Based on this realisation therefore, the present essay attempts to explore the role played by counselling in the helping professions and the need for further training to sharpen their skills of counselling. The essay is presented in various sections as enumerated hereunder. THE ROLE OF COUNSELLING IN THE HELPING PROFESSIONSAs it has already been established in the foregoing introductory section of this essay, majority of helping professions largely employ the skills of counselling.
Coupled with this, it has also been noted by Julie (2004) that the use therapeutic approaches have taken centre stage in the helping professions’ practice. Both the counselling and therapeutic approaches have proved fundamental in the social context of helping, particularly as applied in social work which is considered a part of the helping professions.
Before having an insight into the role played by counselling in the helping professions, it is important to first of all understand the social context in which the skills of counselling are applied. As highlighted by Purdam and colleague (2009) and Smith (2008), a big proportion of the helping professions named in this essay, particularly social work are known to encompass the aspect of social justice. In view of counselling, social justice is found to represent a multifaceted approach which mandates counsellors to promote human development as well as equitable distribution of justice (Corey et al, 2011).
By applying this approach, individuals and the masses in the society are given power to fight injustice and inequality from their midst. To achieve this, counsellors have the principles of equity, access, participation and harmony at their disposal to guide their work (Faulk et al, 2007). According to Faulk and friends (2007), the principle of equity is illustrated to be the “fair distribution of resources, rights and responsibilities” to all members of society. During their noble duty of helping the distressed and deprived arrive at amicable solutions to their problems, Julie (2004) argues that counsellors must accord equitable attention to all in respect to “race, ethnicity, nationality, colour, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status, political belief, religion and disability”.
In line with this illustration therefore, equitable access to counselling for all without discrimination is critical to a socially just world (Purdam and Tranmer, 2009). The principle of access underscores the importance of fairness in allowing all individuals to access the resources, services, power, information and the common good of the society (Purdam and Tranmer).
This in reality is geared towards creating individuals who are both confident and self-determined in their lives. When this happens, Buckner (2008) agrees that the principle of participation, which is also crucial to a socially just world is realised. As observed by Robert (2000), the principle of participation underlines every individual’s right to participate in making important decisions that impact on their lives as well as that of others in the society. After having fulfilled the foregoing three principles, Heather and associate (2008) contend that harmony remains the only unifying element of our definition of social justice.
This principle professes of social adjustments that produce harmonious co-existence of members in the society as a whole (Heather and Mark, 2008).