Too many people in our society today in Nigeria do not know the importance of guidance and counselling. Some have never heard of it, others have but think it is for schools only, and others still think it has no use at all.
However guidance and counselling plays an important role in the total wellbeing of the citizens of any nation. In this article, I have highlighted 15 benefits or importance of guidance and counselling in Nigeria.
Importance of Guidance and Counselling in Nigeria
1. To help citizens overcome psychological and mental health issues
We are surrounded today by many psychological and mental health issues that we aren’t paying enough attention to yet. Depression, PTSD, mental disorders, low self-esteem, anxieties of all sorts, loneliness and increased stress level, to mention a few.
Unfortunately, medicine and doctors do not posses the cure to these issues since they are concerned with the physiological part of the body.
If Nigerians must remain healthy, based on the WHOs definition of health, counselling and therapy is highly needed to cater for mental, psychological and emotional well-being.
2. To reduce cases of divorce and broken homes
The cases of divorce and broken homes we see today are only on the rise. While our parents didn’t have counsellors and still had less cases of divorce, societies have changed now.
Counsellors can play an important role in helping individuals choose the right spouse, manage family conflicts and navigate through the changes that happen in the family through helping both parties gain understanding of themselves.
3. To help employees cope with work stress and demand
The ever changing world of work is having great negative effects on our citizens and guidance and counselling can help. Several researches have shown that Mondays are the days with the highest cases of suicides.
There is therefore the need for guidance and counselling in Nigeria to help individuals cope with the stress and emotional/psychological demands the workplace is bringing on them.
4. To help clients choose careers that best suit their personality and potential
This is where guidance and counselling started from in Nigeria. While there are other roles counsellors play in our society, career guidance is still an important aspect of the profession.
As a career counsellor, I meet several people every month who don’t know which career to choose or how to navigate through the one they are in currently and in know it is an issue.
I see the great satisfaction and significant life upgrade people have whenever they are established in satisfying careers.
Related: Relevance of Career Guidance and Counselling in Nigeria
5. To help clients make informed decisions about their lives
Counsellors do not give advice or instructions. All they simply do is help help their clients understand themselves and the situations they are in so they can make informed decisions.
This aspect of the services of counsellors makes them of benefit to every single person in Nigeria. Wouldn’t you appreciate a situation where you are able to weigh all the options before you and make the best choices always? If you do, then you acknowledge the need of counsellors in Nigeria.
6. To assist victims of traumatic experiences
Victims of traumatic experiences like sexual and domestic abuse, war or natural disasters mostly tend to live through out their lives with the negative memories but it doesn’t have to be so.
Counsellors have proven to be important in situations like this, where the can help the victims overcome the effect the traumatic experiences have on them, rise above stigma, get reinstated into normal lives with others, and see themselves in a new light.
7. To assist the disabled and handicapped
Similar to victims of traumatic experiences are people living with disabilities. For them, life is not naturally normal as they have to battle with extra difficulties that other people don’t face.
People living with disabilities, however, can live optimal lives if they receive assistance that will help them see their abilities, provide emotional support for them, teach them coping mechanisms, provide community and a sense of belongingness for them. This is another role counsellors can play.
8. To help modify deviant and maladaptive behaviors
Behavior modification is a systematic process and does not always answer to the harsh treatments parents give their children. Counsellors are professionals in behavior modification.
If counsellors are embraced in a society today and become part of every institution (family, school, religious bodies, workplace), there will be reduced cases of social vices.
9. Help make academic programs more wholistic
If our schools must fulfil their roles of developing the entire being of our children, then counselling cannot be sidelined. Guidance and counselling should be part of the educational system right from elementary school to the tertiary level.
To sideline counselling from schools is to openly state that schools are only concerned with the academic development of the children.
10. Rehabilitation and correction
Prisons and correctional centres mostly do not play their roles as many return from these places with new bad behaviors. This shows the bad approach correctional centres take in modifying behaviours.
Counsellors therefore are beneficial in these environments for them to truly be rehabilitation centres.
11. To assist citizens adapt with societal and technological changes
Adapting with change is a difficult situation that many struggle to cope with. From changes in family, changes in environment, changes in societal values and technological changes, counsellors can help citizens adapt better.
The biggest technological development currently, the Metaverse, comes with changes that will live many unstable and unable to balance their virtual lives with their actual lives.
12. To help workers have greater work life balance
It is very common to see people who devote all of their time and energy to their careers that they neglect their families, have no social lives, deny themselves of rest and ultimately shorten their lives.
This creates a need that counsellors can fulfil. Counselling can assist people in balancing their career with every other aspect of their lives.
13. To help clients maximize their potentials
There are many limitations that stop people from chasing their dreams and becoming all they could become. These limitations include lack of adequate understanding, unfavourable environment, fear and so on. Counsellors can assist them however navigate through these limitations and live their best lives.
14. To play mediatory roles or provide alternative dispute resolutions
This is first applicable for marriages but it extends beyond that. Rather than ending in diverse or court cases, counsellors can provide some sort of alternative dispute resolution among two disagreeing parties by helping them see the roles each of them is playing that is keeping the conflict alive.
15. To alleviate the rise of social threats in schools
Cases of bullying (and cultism) in schools are beginning to gain more light. If schools have more counsellors, the counsellors can help reduce these cases by noticing changes in students behaviour and investigating further.
The presence of counsellors will also provide students with a “friend” they can easily talk to and relate their issues with unlike other teachers who are strict or might not listen.
Other roles counsellors can play in Nigerian society is to help to reduce the number of suicide cases, to help eliminate toxic work environments, to help children with learning disabilities get education and many others.
The Need for Guidance and Counselling in Nigeria
We have been able to see so far that embracing guidance and counselling in every quarters of the nation is of utmost importance and the benefits far outweigh the investment.
Guidance and counselling in Nigeria will help reduce vices and deviance in society, will help citizens maximize their potential, help them adapt with societal and environmental changes, reduce cases of suicides, divorce, broken homes and will assist those with disabilities of all sorts in living normal lives.
Olusegun Iyejare is a career coach and certified counselor. He helps individuals discover and maximize their potential to live satisfying lives regardless of obvious limitations holding them back.