Guidance and Counseling as a profession in Nigeria is most popular within the school system as the focus over the years has been only on Career and Educational Guidance. But there are many other aspects of it that have been neglected although it is practiced by a few. Counseling according to Milton, Hand & Malcolm is defined as a process which occurs in a one to one relationship between an individual troubled by a problem which he cannot cope with alone and a professional whose training and experience have qualified him to help others reach solutions to various types of personal difficulties. It is an interaction that occurs between the counselor and the client and it takes place in a professional setting. It is initiated and maintained as a means of facilitating positive changes in the behavior of the client. There are many branches of counseling and guidance, some of which will be listed below:
- REHABILITATION COUNSELING: It focuses on helping people who have disabilities achieve their personal career and independence. This type of counselling can be found in private practice in rehabilitation facilities, universities, government agencies, insurance companies and other organizations where people are being treated for congenital or acquired disabilities.
- CAREER COUNSELING: It assists people to gain self-awareness of their interests, values, abilities and personality types. It connects people to resources to make them more knowledgeable about jobs and occupations. Career counselors assist people to explore, pursue and attain their career goals.
- SCHOOL COUNSELING: This counselors work in elementary, primary, secondary and high schools to provide academic, college readiness, persona-socio competence guidance to all students through advocacy, leadership, systemic change, team work, and collaboration with other stakeholders. It assists in development of classroom lessons for all students who need assistance beyond the classroom setting. School guidance is also referred to as educational guidance. They provide consultation services to family members; they provide parenting skills, study skills, child and adolescent development, care and help with transition from home to school.
- PASTORAL COUNSELING: This is a branch of counseling where ordained ministers, priests, non-ordained ministers and lay persons provide guidance services with biblical foundation and guidelines. Pastoral counseling provides principles and methods known as Biblical psychology to minister in relations to God and moral living.
- MENTAL HEALTH & BEHAVIORAL DISORDER COUNSELING: it is provided in mental health institutions, hospitals and schools. Families, individuals, groups, and couples are counseled to promote pure mental health and well-being. Mental health counselors deal with marital problems, stress management, substance abuse, addiction, suicidal ideation, problems with self-esteem, eating disorders, etc.
- MARRIAGE & FAMILY COUNSELLING: it helps to promote better relationship and understanding between the families. This type of counselling is useful during divorce, death of a family member, mental or physical illness of a family member or any negative behavior or habit. It modifies perception and behavior, enhances communication and helps prevent crisis.
- GERONTOLOGICAL COUNSELLING: It involves providing services to elderly people and their families as they face changing lifestyles. It enhances the worth of elderly people so as to sensitize them to possible age related changes and differences.
- GENETIC COUNSELLING: It involves providing information and support to families who have members with birth defects or genetic disorders and to families who may be at risk for a variety of inherited conditions. The counselor assists the family with relevant information about the disorder; analyze inheritance patterns and risk of re-occurrence.
- MULTI-CULTURAL COUNSELLING: This refers to the guidance provided within a variety of racial, ethnic or cultural groups. It requires clients to understand differences among different cultures, the uniqueness of individuals and how the different cultures influence attitudes, values and biases that exist among people.
Guidance and Counselling can be studied in a college of education but that will only qualify one to be a career master or mistress while studying it at the university also only qualifies one to be a para-counsellor. A professional, certified, and recognized counselor is one who has a Masters degree from a recognized institution.