Monday, December 1, 2014

The counselor is a strange creature

While structuring a class I was taking on Qualities and emotions of a counselor, I got the opportunity to better appreciate the strangeness (unreality?) of this creature called the counselor.
What makes the counselor strange is not just the potpourri of skills that counseling requires, but also the seeming incompatibilities between these skills. The counselor must be aware of the many fine lines he must not cross and make his peace with the paradoxes that define his scientific art form.
Here are a few paradoxical mantras that the counselor chants:
  • Read between the lines, but do not judge
  • Understand, but do not extrapolate
  • Feel, but do not be affected
  • Don’t rescue, but be proactive in potentially harm-causing situations
  • Nurture, but do not get attached
  • Be assertive (don’t let them take you for granted), but be humble (not overconfident)
  • Make every attempt to know the person, but also know that the person will always remain a mystery
  • Don't pretend to know the answer, but believe that you can help the other find it
  • Hold up the mirror, and retain reflections from your own life for a deferred introspection

The last mantra suggests that the counselor is both the mirror and the reflection.
If you are a counselor and have discovered some other paradoxical mantras, do let me know. Maybe we can compile a complete list!

P.S: A hat tip to people who contributed to my list. So far, they are Iffat Agboatwala and Poornima Sadananda.