What is the Counseling Process?

This article aims to answer the question “what is the counseling process?” and also explores the various components of this process. 

What is Counseling Process?

Counseling can be defined as a process that brings about change and development in the person through the methods and techniques employed by the therapist. It also includes the interaction between the client and therapist that follows a certain stepwise procedure to bring about the necessary changes within the client. There are various events, stages, characteristics, and conditions that occur in a counseling process. There are also different types of counseling processes such as Psychodynamic, Behavioral, Cognitive, Person-centered, Holistic, Humanistic, etc. 

Process of Counseling

Counseling is generally sought after when the client is undergoing difficulties and faces trouble in coping with them. At such times they seek therapy to help them face their challenges and change the discourse of their lives. A therapist helps the client in understanding their challenges and issues and makes them capable to deal with these issues on their own with the help of effective tools and techniques. 

Counseling helps people with their physical, emotional, and mental health issues and instills within them a positive outlook towards life. 

What counseling “Does” and “Does Not Do”? 

Often people are unaware of the true purpose and goals of counseling and have many misconceptions regarding the process. They misconstrue counseling as just talking mindlessly to feel better. But they do not realize that it is a much more complex procedure than meets the eye. To clear these misconceptions following are two lists that explain the things that counseling actually “does” and “does not do” 


It helps in bringing about positive change in a person’s thoughts, emotions, and behavior.

Provides a non-judgmental, unbiased, and empathetic approach

Helps in tackling challenges and stressful issues by identifying their causes and eliminating them. 

Maintain confidentiality until and unless the client doesn’t pose any harm towards themselves or others

Does Not

Advice or Suggestions

Provide solutions for problems 

Be judgemental and biased.

More than a professional relationship between the client and the therapist. 

Counselling handles a broad range of issues. It deals with almost everything that poses a threat to the emotional and mental well-being of the client. Following are some of the issues handled through the counseling process.

Issues handled with Counseling

  • Career guidance or concerns and difficulties faced in education 
  • Geriatric counseling to help people deal with issues that come with advanced age.
  • Rehabilitation Counseling to assist people in turning a new leaf. in decisions regarding school, work, and retirement transitions
  • Marital and Family Counseling to help build and strengthen the relationship 
  • Developmental Counseling to enhance the existing capabilities
  • Trauma Counseling to help deal with issues arising due to traumatic events. 
  • Helps in dealing with Mental health disorders
  • Workplace counseling to help deal with problems arising at the workplace. 

Who can seek Counseling?

Counseling doesn’t have a specific age group. It can be effective right from childhood to old age. As long as the client is able to perceive and reciprocate appropriately to the counselor the counseling process can be carried out effectively. So even children facing issues such as bullying, learning disabilities, or developmental disorders can be benefited from counseling and on the other hand, elders struggling with isolation or abandonment can seek relief from their distress with the help of therapy.

The Stages of the Counseling Process

The counseling process is a broad and lengthy concept and needs to be divided into stages. Each stage plays a different role in the process and has distinct characteristics. 

 Following are the stages of counseling

Stage one: (Initial disclosure) Rapport building

To begin the counseling process the counselor must work on building a relationship with the client. The client is supposed to expose and reveal their vulnerabilities and insecurities in front of a person who is, by all means, a stranger. In order for them to feel secure and comfortable, the client should be able to trust dailythe person they are interacting with. Therefore stage one consists of rapport building. During this stage, the counselor focuses on observing the client assess the issues they might be facing.  This stage is also utilized to psychoeducate the client about the upcoming procedure and development. The counselor can discuss the objectives with the client and also collect information about the client that will be necessary to move towards the next stage. The information is collected to help the therapist understand the client. This information that is collected can also be referred to as the client’s profile that details their personal information, medical history, family history, etc. This stage is basically utilized to set the foundation for the upcoming stages by gaining the trust and necessary information of the client. 

Stage two: (In-depth exploration)  Assessment of Issues

When the rapport is being built and data is being collected the next stage is put into motion. This is called the assessment stage. In problem assessment, the counselor utilized the existing information to analyze the potentially affected areas in the person’s life and probe further. The counselor would carefully observe and listen to the client’s narrative and try to deduce the underlying issues from that narrative. They would also observe the verbal, non-verbal cues as well as facial expressions and body language. Their work, home, education, and social areas would be assessed to identify any hidden negative influencers within them. The counselor would also try to understand and figure out the triggers that bring undesirable changes in the client.     


Stage three: (Commitment to action) setting of Goals

Goal setting is one of the most important steps in the counseling process. It enables the counselor and client to have a realistic aim that they need to achieve. This gives their path a direction and makes the process easier to follow. But there are certain conditions when it comes to setting goals. The goals must be realistic and achievable and set only after discussing with clients and taking their opinions. Goals provide a structure to the therapeutic process and work as a guide for the counselor  

Stage four: Counseling intervention

In this stage, the intervention techniques are employed to bring about the necessary changes and developments in the client. The previous stage provides an assessment of potential issues and challenges that need to be dealt with.  Therefore in this stage, the counselor would utilize certain strategies or activities to work on them. It can be said that this is the most dynamic stage out of all the stages and the outcome of the process majority depends on this stage. The clients often feel uncomfortable during this stage as change can be tough for many people and can even generate fear. But it is the counselor’s job to guide them through their doubts and help them attain their goals.  

Stage five: Evaluation, termination, or referral

This is the final stage where the counseling relationship between the client and the counselor is supposed to end. The process cannot be ended abruptly as that can cause confusion and distress within the client. The counselor has to follow certain steps and this whole procedure is termed termination. 

Termination can be quite hard on the client as they have formed a bond with the counselor and feel understood by them. They might even project feelings on their counselor that can pose further problems. To avoid this scenario the termination process should be started carefully and slowly while tackling any emotional outbursts or reactions by the client. 

After termination, the counselor should see up a follow-up appointment to monitor how the client is coping with their life after the therapy. In this follow-up appointment, new goals can be set up and if there is a relapse then the process could start all over again. 

Important elements of counseling

Unconditional positive regard

The counselor must display unconditional positive regard towards the client and make sure that they feel accepted and understood. They should be provided a nonjudgmental and unbiased environment where they can voice their thoughts, insecurities, and fears freely. 


Confidentiality between the client and the counselor cannot be breached unless they pose a threat to themselves or others. (For example self-harm, suicide threats, etc.) Under any other circumstance, a breach of confidentiality would be a major offense on the counselor’s part and legal action can also be taken against them for this misdemeanor.


Unless the counselor empathizes with the client it would be difficult to truly understand the problems they are facing or the issues they have to tackle on a daily basis. Empathy is an integral aspect that helps the counselor feel and understand the gravity of the situation and the emotional conflict going on in the client’s mind. 


This article provided us with the necessary information about the counseling process that makes it easier to understand. We learned about the various key elements as well as stages of counseling that help drive this process smoothly without any hitches. 

Frequently asked questions

What kind of process is Counselling?

Counselling Process

Counseling is opted for when a person is facing emotional or mental distress that is affecting their life. This distress can be caused by several factors such as workload, burnout, environmental or family issues, etc. Counseling is a systematic process that helps deal with these issues by countering the root causes. 

Why is the counseling process important?

Even though everyone wants to lead a problem-free life it is not possible to do so. Problems are a part of life and have to be dealt with. Counseling helps in equipping a person with all the necessary tools and measures that can help them fight these problems on their own. Hence counseling is an important process. 


What are the 5 stages of the counseling process?

The counseling process is divided into five important stages. They are:

The Stages of the Counseling Process

  • Stage one: (Initial disclosure) Rapport building. …
  • Stage two: (In-depth exploration) assessment of issues
  • Stage three: (Commitment to action)l setting of goals 
  • Stage four: Counseling intervention. 
  • Stage five: Evaluation, termination, or referral. 

What are the 5 major goals of counseling?

There are five major goals of counseling that help in guiding the counseling process and providing a structure. The goals are

  • Enabling and cultivating positive changes in behavior 
  • Focusing on Improving the interpersonal and social relationships of the client developing coping skills and abilities within the client, facilitating the decision-making process, and boosting the existing potential in the client.
  • Focusing on the overall growth and development.

What are the principles of counseling?

Counseling consists of five major principles that set the tone of the counseling process and ensure that counseling is used for the benefit and welfare of the people.  They are 





and fidelity


Counseling process – iresearchnet. Psychology. (n.d.). Retrieved January 23, 2022, from http://psychology.iresearchnet.com/counseling-psychology/counseling-process/#:~:text=Counseling%20process%20refers%20to%20events,interaction%20between%20counselor%20and%20client.&text=Outcomes%20are%20those%20phenomena%20that,or%20indirect%20result%20of%20counseling


Was this helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!