Courage, endurance, belief, resilience, and trust are some of the qualities that a good counsellor will require, Dr Gro Holm Rypestol told some 30 schools’ counsellors during the 4th biennial Bhutan counseling conference last week.

According to her, always being available and being a good listener are some of the traits of a good counsellor.

“Don’t wait for the youth to approach you with their problem. You should be available and learn what the child is going through a trouble,” she said. “Tell them you are there for her or him, and whatever story they tell, even if it is unbelievable, show that you believe their story.”

Dr Gro, a senior counsellor from Norway, while speaking to the participants on the how to become, a good counsellor, said the most important qualities of a counsellor is he or she should have empathetic personality, should have the ability to listen, and have a genuine interest in children and youth.

“A counsellor by definition is a professional who you go to in order to talk about problems and to learn about solutions to coping with stress or sadness,” she said. “Mix with the students everywhere and be observant, encourage them to come forward, and don’t forget to listen to the words.”

And she added, children do not always say what they mean or mean what they say, and subtle body language or signs tell what kind of trauma they have undergone.

“You shall not solve their problems but make them identify and make changes so that they can solve their own problems. Do not assume, think or guess. Cultivate trust and confidentiality.”

A counsellor should know and inform a child about the laws, regulations and policies affecting students and families, and maintain appropriate boundaries, she said.

Dr Gro reminded the participants that counsellors should always have life-long desire to learn to help the young.

“Please find literature on counselling, or reports, books, magazines, and discuss with others. Keep yourself updated, seek help and counselling, and change your ways of thinking and acting by working constantly on your attitude, and by challenging your prejudice and bias.”

Yangchen C Rinzin