Doctor, please counsel my son-in-law. He is asking for a divorce,” pleaded an anguished father. The son-in-law was firm in his decision. He said, “My wife is refusing to have sex with me. What is the purpose of this marriage then?” The wife accused her husband of insensitivity. “He is a chain smoker and his mouth stinks like a gutter. I lose all my desire when he tries to kiss me. Even if I can tolerate this he ejaculates before I can have my release,” said the lady, tearfully.
In a country where the term counselling has just begun to crack out of its taboo, a lot of people are unsure what the term really means. More often than not, professionals are presented with a wide variety of situations for which the term counselling acquired multiple meanings. Although for the most part they are not incorrect, it is important to note what the term counselling means when it comes to emotional wellbeing.
While at the marriage and family level, counselling is sought for convincing, at the academic front, it is advice-giving. This type of counselling often looks into the scope of the student and addresses the options of work environment that they are likely to do best in. Although useful in the educational domain, for psychological problems counselling is not advice-giving but empowering the individuals to make a decision.
When a couple visits a sexologist, it is important to first identify the exact nature of the problem, and where the cause lies. The husband’s concern lies in his wife’s refusal. The wife’s refusal stems from the husband's poor oral hygiene and premature ejaculation. Understanding this is key to working towards resolution.
Counselling is highly beneficial when the clients are not able to overcome their difficulties by themselves. Their past may be affecting their present life. Counselling can also be a way to introspect, develop insight, and build resilience to tackle future situations. It needs to be noted that one does not need to be suffering from extreme depression or a major crisis to enter this process.
Counselling is used for different purposes in different contexts. For example, the direction and type of advice provided in the educational or vocational fields is different from pastoral counselling where one’s life is guided by a religious connotation. Within psychological counselling itself, there are, in fact, dozens of counselling practices and specialities to choose from. Help is centred on the dimension of the problem: familial, marriage, substance abuse, academic performance and so on.
One such special counselling is sexual counselling, where the couple and the counsellor address the issues affecting the emotional wellbeing of the couple.
A great many of the sexual problems practising health professionals encounter cannot be classified as sexual deviations, variations, or dysfunctions. They often have more to do with the couple’s adjustment to one another than with any serious psychopathology. Nonetheless, those adjustment problems relating to variations in sex drive and preferences for sexual activity can cause a considerable amount of unhappiness and marital discord. While such sexual adjustment problems are sometimes the product of more serious psychopathology or relationship discord, often they arise from the couple’s inability to engage in logical problem-solving in the sexual arena. Because of the strong emotional investment in interpersonal sexuality, even couples in normally effective problem-solving procedures may find that they behave quite illogically and immaturely when confronting sexual problems.
The key to counselling is that it takes time, just as any process facilitating change does. The couple needs to stay focused, committed to putting in effort beyond the four walls of the counselling room, and recognise that altering our attitudes from “it’s your fault” to “what can I do to make it better”, can go a long way in the relationship. The client’s job does not end when they say, “Doctor counsel me.” In fact, this is where it begins.