The things I learned in the counseling room

We only wish to protect you well

/ Registered counselor Tiew Ee Jing (Translated by Colin Kuan)

In the counseling room, an adolescent boy sat with a counselor.

The boy’s head was bowed in silence. On what questions the counselor was going to ask, the boy hadn’t got a cue.

Just when the moment got tense, the counselor slowly spoke, “You are safe here. Whatever you share is confidential, and the conversation in this counseling room will remain between you and me. No third person will ever know.”

The boy’s rigid posture and uneasy expression suddenly appeared more relaxed. After reaffirming the confidentiality policy mentioned earlier several times, he began to let down his guard and was ready to give his trust to the counselor to embark on a journey of healing together.

This is a real case that actually happened and one of the common situations in the counseling room. As society evolves, the subject of mental health is being paid greater attention. Counselors, clinical psychotherapists, psychologists and other mental health-related professions are gradually gaining more prominence among people and becoming a way to seek psychological assistance. However, awareness on the concept of counseling is still very much lacking among the general masses and even misunderstood. Over time, these slowly become misconceptions that lead to avoidance. As in the case of the boy above, he was under the misconception that whatever was discussed in the counseling room would be reported to an adult; which was why he was initially very defensive. Such a response is not only isolated among teenagers, but also among adults, because it takes a lot of courage to share your innermost thoughts with a stranger and it requires a very safe place to do so.

Each professional practice has its own code of ethics to regulate the professional conduct of its service personnel and the counseling profession is no exception. Counseling is a professional practice and has its own professional code of ethics that guides the professional conduct of counselors. What do you know about the code of ethics for counselors in Malaysia? Aside from the fact that information on this subject is difficult to obtain, most people think that it is not necessary to understand it because the purpose of seeking counseling is only to solve problems. That would be a big mistake! Understanding basic counseling ethics not only protects you, but also protects others. Most importantly, it allows you to engage in the counseling process with a relaxed and comfortable mind when in the counseling room.

The main purpose of the professional code of ethics for counselors is to protect the rights of the client and the counselor, to ensure that the client is not harmed during the counseling process, and to promote the interests and well-being of the client. Here is a brief discussion of the basic code of ethics that you can understand before engaging in counseling. 

  1. Professional Responsibilities of Counselors

The primary responsibility of the counselor is to respect and protect the personal dignity and potential of the client in order to protect their rights and interests. Clients have the right to make free decisions during the counseling process, and the counselors need to respect and act in the best interests of the client. Counselors must also respect the  cultural diversity of their clients.

2. Privacy & Confidentiality

The counselor needs to respect the client’s right to privacy and obtain the client’s informed consent. The counselor shall not disclose the privacy of the client or inform a third party without obtaining the consent of the client, and before the counseling service, explain the confidentiality policy and the limit of the confidentiality policy with the client, and ensure that the client clearly understands and signs the informed consent form.

3. Responsibilities of the Professional Counselor

All counselors are required to register with the Malaysian Board of Counselors (Lembaga Kaunselor Malaysia) to obtain the professional qualifications of licensed and registered counselors. Counselors are required to enhance their professional competency from time to time, to be open to learning, to keep their professional knowledge up-to-date and to meet the needs of their professional work in order to achieve the best results in assisting clients.

In my experience with clients over the past few years, in addition to discovering that they do not understand how they can protect themselves during the counseling process, I also found that the general population do not know how to protect those who are receiving counseling. In fact, whether it is taking pictures or videos of the client or posting the client’s personal information on social media, it is a sort of second degree harm to them. In addition to facing their own issues, clients are also forced to face public opinion or undue concern which will undesirably place further stress on their physical and mental well-being, indirectly affecting the effectiveness of counseling and may even cause them to quit altogether.

Everyone who comes to the counseling room comes with a wounded spirit. Whether we are counselors, clients or the general public, we need to work together to create a safe, calm and comfortable space for counseling, so that the wounded spirit can rest and heal properly in the counseling room.

We only wish to protect you well, and that is our original intention.

Nirvana Care Grief Care Department

Nirvana Care – Grief Care department, cares for your grieving journey… We provide individual counseling, group support and life education awareness. Contact us at [email protected] or 010-9896954 (Monday to Friday, 10am to 5pm) for appointment or phone and email enquiry.

Author Profile:

Tiew Ee Jing graduated with a Master in Counselling from Open University Malaysia, she is a Registered and Licensed Counsellor who is passionate about life care and promoting life education.

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