What is counselling?

  • Philip Burnard
Part of the Therapy in Practice book series (TPS)


We are all counsellors. Anyone who works in one of the health professions and comes into contact with people who are distressed in any way, whether psychologically, physically, spiritually or practically, offers counselling help. In this sense, counselling is something that is familiar to everyone. There need be no mystique about it. Nor should it be something that is reserved for a particular group of professionals who call themselves counsellors. Thus the discussion is already focused on familiar territory. Like all such familiar territory, however, we can always get to know it better. The aim of this book is to explore some of the many faces of counselling and to encourage the health professional to identify ways in which her counselling skills may be improved. All skills, after all, are learned. This is true irrespective of any particular psychological point of view we may hold. Whether or not we would tend to call ourselves behaviourally, psychodynamically or humanistically oriented, there seems little doubt that we learn and develop skills as we grow, train and live. It would seem difficult to argue otherwise and to say that we may be born with counselling skills!


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Copyright information

© Philip Burnard 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Philip Burnard
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Wales College of MedicineUK

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