Connect with us

Thai Life

Balance Matters: Counseling, a first encounter of the helpful kind

Legacy Phuket Gazette



PHUKET: Roughly one out of 15 people are affected by poor mental health at least one time in their life, but many don’t realize that they need help, that help exists, how it works or indeed how to find it. Most of us have heard of counseling (also referred to as therapy or psychotherapy), but that doesn’t help people understand what counseling is or what to expect.

Just to get the ball rolling, let me paint a fictional example for you of a scenario I have seen many times over the years.

Susan, James and their son Charlie, moved to Phuket last year amid great excitement and expectations about living in an island paradise. At first, everything was new, exciting and fun and James advanced his career in the company. Soon, however, James was spending less and less time at home and Susan was left to cope with raising a child in a foreign land while building a social network.

When James was home, he just wanted to relax and enjoy Phuket. The two soon began to quarrel – something that Charlie had never seen before. Charlie began to act up in school, which then led to more tension at home. Within nine months of moving here, life in their island paradise was beginning to tear the family apart.

The school suggested Charlie see a counselor. It soon became clear that Charlie’s issues were not purely his own and that the parents’ participation was critical; not only for Charlie but for their own happiness as well. The counselor held sessions with Charlie alone, then individually with each parent and together, and then finally with the family as a whole.

Everyone in the family learned a lot about themselves as people and also how their actions, words and attitudes affect the other family members. The counselor helped the family prioritize their issues and deal with them in a constructive manner. Susan and James were pleasantly surprised to see that their counselor remained neutral throughout the process and allowed them to individually air their views without interruption. For the first time in months, Susan and James were able to address their problems by expressing how they truly felt. Eventually, life became easier and the family bond strengthened to the point where they could thrive together and individually.

This is what counseling is. It provides a safe, confidential place to talk about issues in your life. It is a process whereby client and counselor come together to create a strong therapeutic relationship to enable effective changes in the life of the client or enhance their well-being.

Some individuals come for counseling because they are finding life events difficult to deal with, such as relocation to Thailand, divorce, bereavement or health issues. Others want to improve their relationships, better understand themselves or to reduce particularly disruptive behavior. Children and adolescents may attend counseling because of a change in their behavior due to bullying, friendship issues, excessive worry, fear or anxiety, sibling issues, parental separation or divorce, or exam preparation.

Most counselors work with clients face-to-face. Other counselors are available for consultation over the telephone, online, or in a group. Whichever setting you and your counselor decide upon, it is valuable to be aware of what to expect during your first encounter.

The first session explores what you feel you are coming to counseling for, what you would like to achieve during the sessions and agreeing on how you will both work together. In some cases you may not have any idea of what you are coming for and what you hope to get out of it. This is perfectly okay.

Your counselor should make you feel able to relax and not feel pressured or rushed and will ask you a number of questions to assess how you can work together.


Rita Dobson, MBPS, BACP, is a professional counselor with a graduate diploma in psychology and an MA in counseling from Monash University. Rita has lived in Southeast Asia for more than 20 years. She has been working with youths in community centers, schools and young offenders’ institutions, as well as supporting their families. Rita can be reached at

— Rita Dobson


Want more Thailand news from the Thaiger family?

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS for instant updates on your mobile
📝️ Join the conversation on Thaiger Talk - discuss news & life in our Thailand forums
📧 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🔔 Subscribe to or Join our YouTube channel for daily video updates


Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Coronavirus (Covid-19)9 hours ago

Dole pineapple factory has 34 new Covid-19 cases, 413 total

Coronavirus (Covid-19)11 hours ago

Chinese Sinovac vaccine debuts in Singapore to high demand

Drugs12 hours ago

Drug smuggler caught in Kalasin with 300 kg of marijuana

Phuket Sandbox July 1st


Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in July - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages in June!

Politics13 hours ago

Amendment to reform Constitution rejected by Parliament

Medical14 hours ago

Gender Health Clinic opens in Bangkok for transgender needs

Coronavirus (Covid-19)17 hours ago

30 million baht added to vaccine side effects compensation fund

Coronavirus (Covid-19)18 hours ago

Plan for 16-week gap between AstraZeneca vaccines dropped

Coronavirus (Covid-19)19 hours ago

CCSA: 120 day reopening will proceed with conditions

Tourism20 hours ago

Sandbox latest, CCSA says all regions reopening must reach 70% local vaccination

Coronavirus (Covid-19)22 hours ago

Covid UPDATE Saturday: 3,667 new infections and 32 deaths

Politics23 hours ago

Thamanat elected to role of head ‘fixer’ in Palang Pracharat party

Expats1 day ago

List: China has over 50% of all foreign-owned condos in Thailand

Coronavirus (Covid-19)1 day ago

Government plans 10 million vaccines for July

World2 days ago

Thailand News Today | Vaccine deaths investigation, PM heads to Phuket, BMA extends vendor licences | June 18

Thailand2 days ago

1 million AstraZeneca doses arrive, Anutin says “more” on the way

Thailand4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism4 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism4 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism4 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Southern floods, Face mask fines, Thai Air Asia woes | January 8