What Counselling is Not

Our job as clinical counsellors involves ethics and ethical practice.  What does it mean?  It means that we are bounded by law and Ethical Codes to practice in a way that we do not harm people.  This means that we practice in a way that we respect people’s dignity and whole being of the person. It also means that we are true to our clients as well as to ourselves.

On this note, anyone who is a psychologist, clinical counsellor, a social worker, and a mental health worker, is bounded by the ethical codes to follow Ethical norms ruled by their professional governing and disciplinary boards of registrations.

Therefore, there is need to view our Iranian understanding of our roles as clinical counsellor / psychologists in respect to the ethical codes we have to adhere to. I like to bring this issue home to our communities, because there are many confusions, misunderstandings, and misconception about who is who and who should be who.

The reason I am discussing this  is that, in our community there are people who create confusion about services that we clinical counsellors offer and stand for.

There are some individuals here in our Vancouver, who pretend to be something they are not. I am sure, this is not specific to any place or time, somehow there are always individuals who put their nose into other people’s businesses.

We hear from our clients, time by time that there are “counsellors” who impose their illogical and unethical views on clients.  I hear that there are some or one senior / older gentleman who works with families as a “counsellor” and he gives people “advises.”

We have been told by many of our clients that some individuals who advertise as “counsellor or social worker “in the Iranian community, have certain interest to destroy marriages when she/ he advise women to get divorce.

Some individuals have told us stories of how  in their ailing marriage, they decided to see a counsellor in order to help their marriage, while the “counsellor “told them they should take divorce.  Some other people have the experience of meeting “counsellors” who have taken side or not understood their situation.

Our counsellors in the Iranian Educators Society for Families likes to stay away from these types of people, misleading information, and unethical behaviours.

Exaggerating is a habit in our culture, we Iranians know that.  To exaggerate in this case, is more about misrepresentation and misinformation.   And it happens a lot among us.

It is a bad habit in our culture to call students in medicine a “doctor” already before they have finished first year of education or call students in the technical areas as an “engineer.”

We know that there are people who might have a bachelor degree in one humanistic area and they call themselves: Therapists.

There are others who have taken one or two month courses in “counselling” and advertise already as “social workers” or else.  However there is a long distance between just exaggerating and destroying life.  How can we advise people while the basis of any counselling job is not giving advice? What counselling is not, is about giving advises, interfering in people’s decision making, and taking sides.  We have to know that we can always report these fake counsellors or nosy individuals to the authorities.

Our community deserves clarity, ethical professionals, and ethical practice of clinical counselling. We have to go to basic and  discuss healthy boundaries while taking responsibilities for what we offer.

March 25, 2010

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