Aim of Counseling in STB Ethiopia

Report from Lastawusih Takele (counseling psychologist), September 2014


My name is Lastawusih Takele. I am a psychologist in Sport – The Bridge Ethiopia under the health department. I have been working in the program for more than 5 years. Until now I was an active visitor to this blog but now I am coming to be a participant. The following writing is my fist participation to the blog; I hope the reader may find it informative; I wish a very nice stay!

It was January 01, 2013 at 02:00 pm. My office knocked by somebody else while I was working on my computer. Consequently, I rose up my neck and watched out to the door; a boy whom I guessed 12 years old stood out. I drop my work and allowed him to get in, seat and ask me any service he may wants…. He got in to and say hello with the culturally respectful manner for elders …. He stared on the ground and stayed silent for a while and started to talk to me. “….am hear coming to tell you something and get help. (… little pause…) I tried by myself many, many times but I couldn`t. “He Said with the feeling of frustration. He continued his talk, “one of the teacher and my friends were recommended me to visit you when I shared my feeling to them”. ….. Then I said”… you mean you want psychological support?”
With little confusion, he replied to me that “Yes! I want to quit using drug and be strong as I was before and I want to control my feeling of aggression”. He felt eager to do what he really wants within one night. He did really expect something miracle from one coarse of contact with the counselor. Nonetheless, after I provided him certain information about what counseling and the counseling process is, his thought of expecting something miracle from the process has gone away and finally he successfully achieved his goal from the counseling.
Currently the child is 15 years old. He is living with his mother, step-father and his two sisters in the country side which is around six hundred kilo Meters from Addis Ababa. From his time of integration, we sometimes contacted with telephone. Till now what really I couldn`t forget he told me through telephone is that “…..teacher before, when I think about gifts, only Money was immediately coming to my mind. But my stay in STB, gave me a lot of insight about the choice of gifts to please others. I understand the power of love and respect as it is equivalent to something to eat and drink. From you and from others what I recognized is this……..thank you teacher! I feel always surprised on my current life. I didn`t think even for a second that I may again join and live with my family”. (Whisper…)

Most of the times, in our country people are finding ways of dealing with such problem in living by talking with family, friends, neighbors, priests or non-counseling professionals. Though their advices are insufficient, street children are even more restricted to their friends in dealing their living problems. However, some of the problems may not be expressed as well because they may let them embarrassed or shamed if they are tolled for others. Hence, counseling is a really useful option at this moment. Therefore STB has been providing this opportunity to the children with a professional counselor. Counseling can provide a lot of opportunities for the kids and their parents.

Though the goal of counseling varies from one psychological approach to others, most counselors agreed on some areas, as a general goal to be achieved in counseling arena. However, even from these goals, STB is also selective enough based on the rationale of its general philosophy and need of its beneficiaries; let us see them:

The aim of counseling

  • Insight: This tells us in the counseling process, the child/children acquired an understanding of the origins and development of emotional difficulties, leading to an increased capacity to take rational control over feelings and actions. The above child got insight to his drug and aggressive feeling and behavior and got control over them.
  • Relating with others: Through counseling the child or children is/are better able to form and maintain meaningful and satisfying relationships with other people: for example with their family. Bear in mind what Tadios (in the above case; his real name is changed) said “….I feel always surprised on my current life. I didn`t think even for a second that I may again join and live with my family”.
  • Self awareness: At the beginning, Tadios was not aware of his blocked or denied thoughts and feeling. But fortunately, through the counseling process, he could able to realized them and even he also developed a more accurate sense of how self is perceived by others (counselor, other staff and his friends and family)
  • Self – acceptance: Most of children are highly vulnerable to self rejection and criticism.Hence, the counseling service is providing opportunities for the child/children to develop positive attitude towards self, marked by an ability to acknowledge areas of experience that had been the subject of self criticism and rejection.
  • Self-actualization or individuation: Tadios was flouting with the conflicting parts of self. On one side he finds himself as a person who wants to follow his religious and traditional norms but he was actually acting in the contrary. On the other hand, though he knew he has a lot of potentials and interests in his academic career, he found himself where he couldn`t meet his potentials and interest. He denied his identity including his name and religion and traditional norms. Though he is actually a Muslim follower, he communicates others as he is Christian and gave Christian name for himself. Hence, the counseling aimed at moving the child to the direction of fulfilling potentials or achieving an integration of previously conflicting parts of self.
  • Problem solving: Finding solution to specific problem that the child/or children had not been able to resolve alone. Or it means acquiring a general competence in problem solving. Tadios got assistant of competency to move to the direction of controlling his drug and aggressive problems.
  • Acquisition of social skills: Learning and mastering social and interpersonal skills such as maintaining ”eye contact”, turn-taking in conversations and assertiveness or anger control. This aim of counseling was successfully achieved with the counseling relationship with Tadios.
  • Cognitive and behavior change: The modification or replacement of irrational or maladaptive thoughts patterns and behaviors. Tadios was thinking that he is useless and nobody likes him; as a result he used different drugs and aggressively reacts to others as coping mechanisms. Hence, in the counseling process this thought and behaviors were replaced by other constructive ones.
  • Empowerment: working on skills awareness and knowledge that will enable the children and their parents to take control their life.
  • Psycho education: Counseling enables the client to acquire ideas and techniques with which to understand and control behavior.

So, whenever one or the other aims of counseling achieved after my counseling relationship, I always feel happy and confident, however, honestly speaking to reach on this/these goal/s is not an easy task because of different factors. May be in my future writings I will point outs these factors. See you until then.

Lastawusih Takele (counseling psychologist)