Here is the definition of Counseling defined by the American Counseling Association, my national professional organization.

“Counseling is a professional relationship that empowers diverse individuals, families, and groups to accomplish mental health, wellness, education, and career goals.”

First of all, I would like to cover what is a professional relationship and how does it differ from other types of relationships. I like to tell my clients that we are not going to be friends. We will not go see a movie together or become tennis partners. The only relationship we will have will be in the Counseling space.

Another function of a professional relationship is using training and expertise to provide support to a person. The person receiving the support reimburses the “expert” with payment. Merriam Webster defines professional as: “of, relating to, or characteristic of a profession. b : engaged in one of the learned professions. c (1) : characterized by or conforming to the technical or ethical standards of a profession (2) : exhibiting a courteous, conscientious, and generally businesslike manner in the workplace.” In this way, a Counselor has participated in formal rigorous training in the profession of

Counseling. In my case, I have a Bachelor of Social Work degree and a Master of Arts in Community Counseling. I adhere to ethical standards as set in my professional organization. There are standards and scope of practice and codes of ethics.

A Licensed Professional Counselor in Colorado then practices at least for 2000 supervised hours before petitioning the state to issue a license to practice. It is a defined accomplishment.

A third point about the professional relationship part of the definition of Counseling is that the relationship itself is set apart and special. Because of the parameters set by the profession everything about the meeting I have with a client is provided to optimize the client’s emotional processing. It is almost a sacred place “held” by the Counselor for the purpose of safety and non-judgment.  Much of the time the most curative part of the work is actually the relationship. It is special, set apart, intentionally warm and inviting, and like no other relationship a person can have.

Counseling is a professional relationship. That’s a great place to start.

See more at information here.