Counseling Adolescents about Their Reproductive Health.

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Counselling is very important in the provision of reproductive and sexual health services.

The goal of counselling is to provide young people with facts that will enable them to make an informed, voluntary decision.

It is important to note that our responsibility as teachers is to offer information and guidance, but the adolescent must make the final decision by him/herself.

What Is Counselling?

Counselling is a relationship between a counsellor and a client.

It is an interaction between two people in which the counsellor helps the client makes an informed decision.

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Purpose of Counselling

  • This allows the youth to be better informed about an issue.
  • To enables an individual to take a voluntary decision without being forced.
  • It allows for better interaction between the counsellor and the person counselled (client).
  • It allows a client to ask questions and receive an answer that will correct rumours, myths, and misconceptions.
  • The counsellor assists the client in understanding his/her needs and feelings about a situation and to plan.

Steps in Counselling

The following steps will guide you in counselling your student. You can remember them by using the acronym GATI IER:

  1. Greet the person in an open and respectful manner
  2. Ask the person about him/ herself and discover the client’s needs and concerns so you can respond.
  3. Tell the person the services available and provide the necessary information.
  4. Help the person to make an informed decision.
  5. Explain everything about the decision made how to apply it.
  6. Return/Referral. Discuss and agree on when to follow up on the decision. If you cannot help him/her, refer the adolescent to a health facility that is youth friendly.

Qualities of a Good Counsellor

  • Must be knowledgeable about adolescent reproductive and sexual health issues
  • Ability to give accurate information without being judgmental
  • Ability to give practical help such as referral to service centres
  • Must be friendly
  • Should have good communication skills
  • Should have good interpersonal skills
  • Must be able to read non-verbal communication signs
  • Must maintain confidentiality/ keep secrets
  • The Counselor should be confident

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Counselling Tips

  • You must provide a welcoming and comfortable environment.
  • You must be a reliable, factual source of information about reproductive health, including pregnancy and STI including HIV/AIDS prevention.
  • Create an atmosphere of privacy, respect and trust so that young people will ask questions, voice concerns and discuss intimate sexual health issues.
  • Engage in a dialogue or open discussion with the young
  • Offer choices and do not judge the young person’s decisions.
  • Accept the client’s right to choose.
  • To help build a rapport with young people, you can begin by asking general questions about the adolescent’s life and interests e.g. tell me about your family, friends, are you in school, tell me about your school, what do you like/don’t like about your school, classes, if you are not in school what are you doing would you like to know what I do? etc.
  • Ensure confidentiality.
  • Good counselling is flexible; it changes to meet the specific needs of the individual and situation.
  • Make appropriate referrals when unable to assist and follow up.

In every counselling session, you hold with an adolescent, use the acronym “GATHER” as a guide so that you will have a successful and complete counselling session.

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