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Time when it can pay not to talk.

OPEN your Yellow Pages and you'll find that counselling now has more entries than computer maintenance and courier services put together.

So big is the counselling industry that you can now pay to talk to somebody about anything from redundancy and addiction to stress and lack of self esteem.

Yet none of the self-appointed making a mint out of this business needs to have any qualification or special understanding.

Those of us who believe that this is madness now have more reason to be concerned.

One of the nation's leading child psychiatrists has said that the counselling of bereaved children can be positively harmful to the youngsters involved.

Professor Richard Harrington says that children have an inbuilt resilience and can cope perfectly adequately with a bereavement without interference from an outsider who may do them permanent damage.

Studies have shown that counselling young delinquents has led to greater delinquency and mental breakdown.

Research in America has also shown that encouraging people to express anger merely leads to more anger.

Indeed there seems to be little evidence to suggest that encouraging those who have undergone a dramatic experience to talk about it does any good at all.

Except of course it swells the bank balance of those doing the listening.

Yet we are now firmly in the grip of the curse of the counsellors. Schools, hospitals and local authorities continue to rush for the counsellors any time a major incident occurs.

It is easy to see why. To begin with it is a given of the 90s that pouring out grief/stress/anger in public is a good thing. And secondly being able to announce that some so-called expert is being called in shows that something is being done.

In the past we may have argued that even these expensive, unqualified, people may have been a total waste of time and money but at least they were doing no harm.

Now we cannot even be sure of that.
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Author:Tynedale, George
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:May 16, 1999
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