3.1 Concepts of counselling
In Study Session 11 of the Health Education, Advocacy and community Mobilisation Module, you learnt that counselling is a face-to-face communication that you have with your client or couple in order to help them arrive at voluntary and informed decisions. It is somewhat different from advice, in which you try to solve a client’s problem by giving information and your personal opinion.
Who makes the decision: (a) when advice is given, and (b) after a counselling session?
(a) When giving advice, you are making the decision for the client who has come to see you.
(b) After a counselling session, the client, or couple should make their own informed decision.
Family planning counselling is defined as a continuous process that you as the counsellor provide to help clients and people in your village make and arrive at informed choices about the size of their family (i.e. the number of children they wish to have).
Informed choice is defined as a voluntary choice or decision, based on the knowledge of all available information relevant to the choice or decision. In order to allow people to make an informed choice about family planning, you must make them aware of all the available methods, and the advantages and disadvantages of each. They should know how to use the chosen method safely and effectively, as well as understanding possible side-effects.
Always remember that family planning counselling is not a type of lecture from you to those who have come to you for help. In the process of family planning counselling there should be mutual understanding. You should show respect to the client who has come to see you, and deal with their problems and concerns about contraception in a straightforward way. There are a variety of approaches for different types of family planning counselling. For example, the way you would approach a session with a group would be different from the way you would work with an individual. The most common settings in which family planning counselling can take place are described below.