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September 2003


Issue 8

Inside this Issue:

2 "Professional Counseling – an effective HR strategy”, by V. Shekhar, MBA

3 "Role of Assessment in Counseling", by Sweta Vaswani, M.A.

4 "What can one expect from Counseling?", by Poonam Agarwal, MA.

Our core team at Drishti: Smita Desai (Ph.D) - Head, Operations Anand Desai (M.Sc, M.A.), - Head, Administration Meghana B.W. (M.A., Clinical) - Coordinator, Diagnostics Ramani Kumar (MSc, CCD) - Coordinator, Education Lalitha A. (B.A.) - Coordinator, Administration Tanaz Mistry (DSE) - Jr. Coordinator, Education Sweta Vaswani (M.A., Clinical) - Jr. coordinator, Diagnostics

Andheri (W) 206 Midas Chamber Andheri (W), Mumbai 400053 Phone: 022-26732496 Fax: 022-26732494 Bandra (W) 501 Gasper Enclave Pali Naka, Bandra (W) Mumbai 400050 Phone: 022-26441850

Dear Friends, In this era of accelerating urbanization, demands on the individual (young and old) are outpacing the resources to cope. Adaptation and adjustment are becoming key skills for growth. As does our body, the mind too suffers. However, while a doctor (medical professional) is often just a phone call away, the situation for mental health assistance is far less consumer friendly. We at Drishti see a wide range of counseling issues being brought to us and have noticed a constant increase in acceptance of the service. Professional counseling, like any other service may best be exploited only if the potential beneficiaries are aware of its scope and above all of what to expect from the service. In an effort to contribute to this awareness, we have chosen to make Professional Counseling the focus of this issue. We have also included an interesting article about the benefits of this service to an organization, many of whom are today focusing their efforts on human capital. We have unfortunately only space in this issue for contributions in two (Expert and Psychologist) of the usual four sections, with the Psychologists corner having two articles. While I thank all the contributors to this newsletter for their articles, I am particularly grateful to Shekhar, for having taken his mind off matters more mundane and stolen time from “scheduling schedules” for his informative contribution – which gives an insight into a new dimension of corporate HR strategy. We do hope that you will find the contents of this newsletter of interest. As always, your comments and suggestions are most welcome and would go a long way in the evolution of this newsletter and to better our services to the community in general. Kind Regards. Editor Anand Desai (

Experts Corner Professional Counseling – an effective HR strategy Mr. V. Shekhar, MBA (HR), Sr. Manager HR, leading hotel chain

Case in point June 2001: Raahil is a 21 year old graduate working in the hospitality industry for the past 2 years. With good, solid educational qualifications and an attitude to boot, he is ideally suited for a successful career in this field. He was picked by the international 5 star hotel from among 300 applicants and out-performed his peers in the first year at work. 5 star appraisals were a norm for Raahil and he loved his job. Whatever time he did get off his shifts, were spent catching up on sleep or watching DVD’s on his newly acquire gizmo. He met his buddies only when his off hours were civil.

Awareness generation about the utility of a counseling process at all levels

(Why are you providing it…Who can avail of it…What are the issues that one can take to a counselor…Introduction of the counselor…etc.)  Providing full and secure confidentiality of the counseling process and its overt declaration as policy (Employees are extremely wary of information that they reveal during the process being misused against them.)  Training managers in early identification. (Those in charge of teams would be the first to notice the need and would benefit greatly from referring out the problem.)

My experience The process does take its time to set in (it took us about 6 months and some planned efforts to get it going). Over the medium term, the experience with such a process in my present organization has been very beneficial and there have been other interesting outcomes too. We have come to know of some common needs that we were not aware of through April 2003: Raahil now a 23 year old, our existing feedback loops. These is about to loose his prized job at the “Our industry is gaining we could then address through international hotel chain. His last from a profusion of some of our other programs. appraisal was found wanting on 6 out youthful talent and of 10 areas with several remarks of Raahil could have gained energy. We need to repoor on-job behaviours. He has significantly from such an in-house look at some of our become a thorn for his boss as he is service. It may have prevented his approaches …adaptation seen as effecting overall team reaching the nadir that he did in is the key, professional performance. He has acquired a bit of April 2003. In any case, if the counseling is one a drinking problem. The few friends company even now is able to refer strategy that we find that he did have are by now married him to a counselor, then there is a useful.” and his long and odd work hours leave good chance that a dynamic young little time for life outside work. He no man, with significant potential longer likes the company in which he could be rehabilitated and go on to works…’cause he thinks its only all about money. fulfill the promise he did show in June 2001. Also he will no longer think that his employers are in it only Workforce is getting younger! for the moolah! The fast growing service industry has probably seen Benefits for the organization the greatest downward shift in average employee age. They are simultaneously being lured by Growth of human capital is most critical in a service consumerism. This places very high demands on industry, although of significant import also in other these individuals at an age when they may not be able fields. There are several ways that a professional to handle it all by themselves. counseling service could benefit the organization:  Help in achieving/maintaining optimal on-job The Challenge performance The industry is gaining from a profusion of youthful  Better team management and team spirit (thus talent and energy. We need to re-look at some of our team performance) approaches for this new population. Adaptation is the  Lower attrition key, and professional counseling is one strategy that we find useful.  Create a helping/caring dimension to the company culture Professional Counseling – how to make it work?  Have an added feedback loop for common HR issues For the effectiveness of such a service, we need to keep in mind the following:


Views expressed in this newsletter belong to the individual authors.


The Outlook Professional counseling can provide valuable personal support to employees and also infuse a more caring dimension to the culture of an organization. It’s a novel approach and more and more organizations are beginning to recognize its value. The views expressed here by Mr. Shekhar are in his individual capacity and in no way reflect company policy. Mr. Shekhar may be reached at:

Psychologists Corner Role of Assessment in Counseling By Sweta Vaswani, M.A. (Clinical), Drishti

Defining a “problem’ is a very difficult process. We see our problems differently. How does a professional counselor view problems?

How does the professional counselor separate his or her world-view from that of the client to permit the objective definition of problems?

What kinds of information are useful in the understanding of a stranger’s problem?

These questions are at the root of the clinical assessment process. They affect the counselor and the client alike. For this reason, it is useful to have some sort of a guideline to follow as one collects information and then assimilates it into a definition of the client’s presenting problem, the context in which that problem exists and the alternatives available to the client in the problem resolution. This is exactly what Assessment does. Assessment not only gives clients the feeling that the counselor views their problems with a healthy degree of respect, but also provides valuable information to the counselor about conceptualization of client problems and corresponding treatment or intervention approaches1.

Purpose of Assessment Assessment has two primary purposes1:  First, it is a systematic way of obtaining information about the client’s presenting problems and concerns.  Second, it is useful for identifying the significant variables that contribute to the problems. Anita and Swati, two independent clients recently came to Drishti and presented the same initial concerns: “I’m feeling depressed.” Although both clients felt depressed, assessment of this problem for each was essential in understanding the nature and extent of the felt depression.


Assessment refers to anything counselors do to gather information and draw conclusions about client concerns. It is a continuous process - counselors are always seeking missing parts of the puzzle and attempting to place them where they fit.

Diagnosis Diagnostics is about identifying and labeling behavioral, cognitive, emotional or social problems of a person, group or community. Diagnostics (also known as testing) forms an integral step in the process of Assessment. Importance of assessment & diagnostics:  Identification of the problem: This is an important dimension of clinical assessment, which involves a more extensive definition of the problem. Herein the nature and the context of the presenting problem(s) are explored. The information obtained from this problemdefinition session and initial session is of direct value in selecting and planning relevant counseling strategies.  It is accurate and reliable and hence saves time. It points out the deficits and rules out subjective biases.  It is the only way to confirm a pediatrician’s/psychiatrist’s suspicion.  A treatment plan almost always depends on psycho diagnostics. As diagnostics highlights the problem areas that should be the focus of the therapeutic attention, it serves as a guideline for therapy.  It predicts client’s responses to therapy with a fair degree of accuracy.  The pre and post assessment gives an objective evaluation of the effect of the intervention (therapy). On undergoing an in-depth assessment, we could not only arrive at the exact nature of the problem (although the extent was similar in both cases), but as Anita was a “thinking” person, we could adopt a cognitive strategy for her, whereas Swati’s circumstances demanded the use of a systemic approach. To sum up, assessment plays an invaluable role in the early stages of counseling to help counselors formulate hypotheses. It is also an ongoing process during counseling, as presenting problems and accompanying conceptualizations of issues often change. 1Hackney, Harold, L. Sherilyn

Cormier. The Professional Counsellor: A Process Guide To Helping. 3rd Ed.

Views expressed in this newsletter belong to the individual authors.


What can one expect from Counseling? Poonam Agarwal, M.A. (Counseling), Drishti

A young man, Dheeraj calls at the counseling center. He is extremely tense and anxious. He calls at the center because he has an important job interview coming up and needs help coping with his anxiety. Another young man, Atul calls as he has heard from his friends that psychological tests are administrated at the center, and he is keen and inquisitive to know about his “personality”. Yet another person calls to know about efficient study skills for their son who is in the 9th standard. Dhiraj, Atul and almost all those that seek counseling have their individual, unique needs and expectations. Understanding and managing clients’ expectations is critical to the success of any counseling process.

Some common counselee expectations:  Provide immediate solutions to their problems.  Provide guidance in major life decisions (marriage, divorce, occupations, etc)  Help achieve better academic performance that would satisfy parents and teachers.  Bring relief from stress and help make choices.  Those seeking employment expect counseling to secure them quick placement and enable them to attain job satisfaction and rapid growth.  Assist in adapting to change.  Parents believe that counseling has a persuasive function and expect it to help in the educational and vocational development of their children. Further, they expect it to remedy many of their children’s deficiencies.  Teachers expect counseling to reduce, if not eliminate, undesirable pupil behavior, help improve classroom climate, promote discipline.  Management and administrators expect counseling services to help in the efficient functioning of their organization by reducing conflicts and friction among the personnel. Client apprehensions and misconceptions  Seeking counseling means one is “weak.”  The counselor will be able to “see through” you, or “read your mind.”  Personal information will be disclosed and my visit to counseling will be revealed, which is still considered a taboo. What to expect from counseling?

   

Respect. Privacy and confidentiality A nonjudgmental environment Confidentiality except in the rare case when the law mandates otherwise or when the process demands and even then only with client consent. Feedback on how you come across to others. Openness to discuss areas of difficulties Assistance on problem solving Alternative viewpoints Guidance toward personal growth. Improved coping skills. Better feelings about self and others. Greater understanding of yourself and others.

        What to expect from the first counseling appointment?

The first appointment, which is the intake interview is designed to gather information about the client, his/her concerns, background data, contributing factors to current problems, and goals for counseling. Also detailed explanation of services, fees, time commitments are provided.

Subsequent therapy sessions A therapy session is typically 45-60 minutes in length with sessions are commonly scheduled on a once a week basis. Clients are required to show discipline in keeping appointments.

When does counseling end? Counseling is not an unending process. It is a planned approach, wherein culmination must be foreseen. In practical terms, counseling ends when the client, the counselor, or the process indicates that termination is appropriate.3 Like the earlier stages in counseling, termination too needs to be assessed and a termination report prepared. Post-termination contact is part of planned follow-up procedures. This may not be required in all cases of counseling. In defense of the counselor it should be said that counseling can help those who are prepared to help themselves and those who want to be helped, but it cannot change human nature magically. 1. Shertger.B / Stone. S.C. (Purdue University), Counseling Psychology: Fundamentals of Counseling, 3rd Edition, p. 76. 2. Rao. S. Narayana, Counseling and Guidance, 2nd Edition, Tata McGraw-Hill Publication, p.61-63. 3Hackney, Harold, L. Sherilyn

Cormier. The Professional Counsellor: A Process Guide To Helping. 3rd Ed.

Thus far we have looked at the general expectations and apprehensions that clients can bring to the counseling process. Let us now look at what clients can expect from this process.


Views expressed in this newsletter belong to the individual authors.



In this issue we deal with the area of psychological counseling and its applications. We cover a recent trend in India of workplace counseli...