Community Counseling and the Elderly
Counseling is the process through which people who are experiencing stresses and problems of one form or another are assisted and their well being enhanced, both psychologically and socially. It has become the approach of choice to life’s problems such that there are specialized services targeting the different groups of people for instance teenagers, people living with terminal illnesses of various sorts and the elderly among others. Whatever the concern may be, it is important to have a place where people can turn to solve their specific issues (Stimpson, 2003).
Counseling in community settings is mostly provided by community based organizations, whether government owned or voluntary groups. Direct counseling services are usually provided in various forms. This can be one-to-one individual counseling, family counseling or group therapy. In all instances, the role of the counselor is to improve the psychological welfare of the target group (Stimpson, 2003).
The elderly in particular can truly benefit from direct counseling services.
There are certain risks which are associated with getting older. From the general process of growing old, the children leaving home, to retirement, the death of a spouse, isolation including being placed in a home. Such events weigh heavily on the psychological status of the old and may expose them to depression and other stress related illnesses. Thus when providing counseling to the elderly, these are some of the factors which will come into play. Counseling the elderly also follows certain guidelines.
It is not advisable to consider that the person being counseled is less competent mentally, simply because they are old as this will place them in a defensive position. One should also avoid stereotyping them as old people who are all expected to behave in a certain manner. It is also highly probable that the elderly are victims of neglect and the counselors should look out for this by asking related questions such as on their medical health, their housing and so on (Medical Misfortune, 2006).
Direct Counseling services-peer Group Advocacy counseling
Peer group counseling involves offering counseling services to a group which shares the same characteristics such as age. The setting as well as the presence of other people who share the same characteristics provides an informal atmosphere which enables the individuals being counseled to relax and feel understood. This approach to direct counseling services is especially applicable to the elderly and may not really need much modification to suit their needs (Bolton & Scott 1978). This can be attributed to the following:
The basis of peer group counseling is that people are able to solve their own problems. Among the elderly, engaging them in this type of counseling shows them that they are not dependent on others by instilling in them a sense of dignity (Bolton & Scott, 1978).
Peer counseling also involves constructive listening as well as response on the part of the counselor as opposed to the clinical psychotherapeutic responses offered by psychiatrists. This accords the individual some form of sensitivity so that they are more at ease to talk about all the normal concerns in their lives (Bolton & Scott, 1978).
The use of Para professionals and lay counselors also provides a warm atmosphere, away from the hospital environment of clinical psychologists (Bolton & Scott, 1978).
The use of the elderly as peer counselors not only renders support to their fellow elderly but also helps them to age successfully (Ho, 2007).
Bolton C. R, Scott J.E.D. (1978) Peer- Group advocacy counseling for the elderly: a conceptual model. Journal of Gerontological Social Work vol 114: 321-330.
Ho, A. (2007) A peer counseling program for the elderly with depression living in the community Aging and Mental Health 11: 69- 74(6) New York: Routledge publisher.
Stimpson, Q. (2003). Clinical counseling in Voluntary and Community Settings. East Sussex: Psychology Press.
Cite this Community Counseling
Community Counseling. (2016, Sep 11). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/community-counseling/