Sometimes, people go to talk to a special kind of helper called a counselor. They talk to the counselor about how they feel and what is bothering them. But did you know that counselors can be trained to help different kinds of people in different ways? Can the approach towards an adult work for an adolescent or a child? Is it possible for a singular approach to be a customized solution to a particular issue that can be applied to everyone?
Hence diversity is crucial. Honoring diversity leads to better results and outcomes, and possibilities. Everyone has unique needs and concerns that require specific approaches. Therefore, counseling different populations based on age, gender, and sexual orientation is necessary as it plays a crucial role in helping individuals feel seen, heard, and validated, ultimately promoting better mental health outcomes for everyone.
Some applications of counseling which have recently gained interest are geriatric counseling, gender-specific counseling, and sexual orientation related counseling. Let’s get further into it :
Counseling in aged or Geriatric Counseling -
Mrs. Smith is a 70-year-old grandmother who's been feeling lonely and isolated recently since her husband passed away. She's been struggling to adjust to this new phase of her life and often finds herself overwhelmed with feelings of sadness and grief.
Mrs. Smith knows she needs help but is unsure where to turn. This is a common experience for many older adults who struggle to find mental health support tailored to their unique needs.
That's where counseling for the elderly comes in. It's a specialty area that requires additional training, but it's crucial for supporting older adults like Mrs. Smith. By providing direct outreach interventions and teaching new coping strategies and skills, counselors can help older adults navigate the challenges of late adulthood.
It's important to recognize that many counselors may not work with older adults due to investment syndrome, believing that it is too late for older adults to benefit from counseling but this attitude is misguided. Late adulthood is a unique life stage that involves continuous growth, and counselors who approach their elderly clients with empathy, respect, and willingness to help can make a big difference.
In addition to the benefits of counseling mentioned above, research has also shown that counseling can help older adults manage a range of mental health concerns, including depression, anxiety, and grief. By improving the overall quality of life and increasing social support, counseling can have a transformative effect on the lives of older adults.
Counseling based on Gender -
Let's face it, when it comes to counseling, gender matters! It's not just about the physical differences between men and women but also about the unique experiences and challenges that come with being a man or a woman in our society.
For example, women are often juggling multiple roles and responsibilities, from work to family to household tasks. So, when working with them in mental health or career counseling, counselors need to take into account these challenges and find ways to support them.
On the other hand, men face their own set of challenges, like societal expectations of masculinity, that can lead to suppressing emotions and turning to destructive behaviors like substance abuse. Counselors must be aware of these issues and provide a safe space for men to express themselves.
At the end of the day, counselors need to be equipped with the knowledge and skills to address the unique needs and concerns of both men and women. They need to understand the impact of societal discrimination and stereotypes on their clients and help them navigate these challenges. With the right approach, counselors can empower their clients to overcome barriers and improve their overall well-being.
Counseling and Sexual Orientation -
A recent worldwide survey carried out in 2021 revealed that three percent of participants across 27 countries identified as homosexual, gay, or lesbian. Interestingly, in India, nine percent of respondents identified as bisexual, which was the highest proportion of bisexual participants compared to the other 26 surveyed countries. Unfortunately, many people in the LGBT community face discrimination and stereotypes, which can cause a lot of stress and make it harder for them to access resources and power.
As a counselor, it's crucial to recognize and understand the needs of our LGBT clients. We can't just assume that everyone fits into neat little boxes, so we need to be open-minded and willing to learn. If someone does disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity, we need to be aware of our own biases and emotions so that we can provide the best care possible.
Sadly, many people in the majority culture have negative attitudes towards non-heterosexual orientations. This can seriously impact the mental health and personal growth of LGBT individuals and even limit their career choices! We need to work on being more accepting and inclusive so everyone can thrive.
On a more positive note, LGBT individuals are more likely to use counseling services than their heterosexual counterparts. They face a lot of similar challenges, but there are also unique obstacles that transgender clients may encounter. As counselors, we need to be prepared to handle these challenges and help our clients achieve their goals.
Something a counselor or client can understand and change in the paradigm - a helpful way to remember different aspects of diversity we need to consider, just remember the acronym ADDRESSING!
So let's all address our clients and our unique needs and help ourselves and others to reach their full potential!
Written by: Rashi Modani (BA Psychology - TY, SNDT University, Mumbai)
Proofread by: A Ph.D. Scholar at Christ University, Bangalore