Monthly Archives: June 2011

Woes and delights of being a counsellor

I am not a career counsellor. Counselling someone is a dangerous job. You can persuade a person to do something that is totally the wrong thing for them to do. But, you can also guide that person to make some amazing choices which they will always remember as the best moment of their lives. Typically, when a person comes to you and asks your opinion about something, they are not looking for you to give them a different option. They will already have made up their minds and want some form of acceptance.

I am not a career counsellor. Sometimes, students who require some advice on their chosen path reject interventions made by a professional career counsellor and prefer to rely on the advice of peers or superiors within their own profession. They feel that the advice given by peers/superiors is reliable because they have been through the exact situation that they are facing.

I am not a career counsellor. Being one of the few in my family to hold a Masters degree in Science, I am approached by not only my family and friends but also from my friends’ relatives. It is a responsible job and I try to make full justice to it because they have come to me and are confiding their fears and apprehensions. I want them to leave with lessons that I have learnt through my own experiences and ones that I hold most precious. I help them understand the concept of “calling” as I call it. Others call it passion, professional interests, whatever. As long as they are sure of what they want to do for the rest of their lives and are happy doing it, my job is done. There will be many a days when you will be bone tired but still you will go to your place of study/work because it is not just a job anymore but something more.

I am not a career counsellor. But, I take a lot of effort to help young students who are confused about their future. Making money might be one important factor of your career. I understand, everyone should do something to make a living but it is also important to find that spark which makes you happy. So, I take immense pleasure in speaking to young people about such things. Their minds are fragile so, it requires a lot of subtle touches to help them move in the right direction. This is not just confined to my family and friends. It is a global issue. Each one of you has your own platform. Actors and actresses have a stage and you have yours. Maybe it is 20, 30 or 40 people. Wherever you are, that is your circle of influence and that is where your power lies. Every day you are showing people exactly who you are and who you can become. The power is the same with people with big platform and also people with a small community. Some people get paid to listen and it aligns with their job but not everybody is lucky. But, everybody is called. It maybe your skill at listening, empathising or nurturing. People often get confused between fame and service. So, it is your duty as a person of influence to help young people see their potential and understand what they can do for themselves and for others in the society.

I am not a career counsellor. But, I always tell people how important it is to own up to their responsibilities and not live someone else’s life and dreams. Children, especially look up to their parents. They understand the struggle the parents have gone through to keep them as a family and want, desperately to fulfil their dreams. Somewhere down the line, they forget their own identity and become an image of their father/mother. I am not saying it is wrong but it is not right either. A person who is artistically inclined being forced to study science isn’t a good thing. He/she should be left to make their own choices and live with the consequences. You might think that this point is contradictory to career counselling efforts. If you think about it, career counselling is not persuasion. It is giving options and telling the people what they can become, if they are interested. This is where choices and consequences come into the picture.

I am not a career counsellor. But, I understand the importance of validation. When young people come to you for guidance, as I mentioned earlier they are looking for acceptance. It is your duty to validate them. Tell them “I see you; I hear you and what you say means something to me. I see your dreams and I believe you can achieve it”. There are so many people who have a common thing – they want validation. They have a sense of unworthiness which can be an impediment in their lives and barricade them from dreaming big and achieving them. There should be least amount of judgement from your side (well, I can’t say I am saint. I judge, I do, but I keep it to myself).

Try it, with your friends, family, your boss, your colleagues.. Just try to listen, validate them, give them options (if they want) and try being a career counsellor.