Her typical day is tight. After reporting to work in the morning she starts off checking her e-mails before embarking on the scheduled appointments within and out of the School. When the writer went to interview her she was working on the Gender, HIV&AIDS and Disability Report that will be used to inform all members of staff. Meet Ms. Rahab Kahenya, a Counselor at the Kenya School of Government based in Lower Kabete. Her immediate concern is that most people, including KSG employees, do not seem to want anyone to know their problems hence they shy away from counseling. For most of them, counselling which is related to psychology - a science subject, lacks actual proof of hypothesis. However, Ms. Kahenya (pictured) told the writer that to understand how counselling works one has to know what actually happens during a counselling session. She was categorical that there is no push button or quick fix.
“Many people shy away from counseling because they wonder whether it works. There are many people who have problems that they are unaware of while some are aware of the issues but just brush aside. In that regard, people do not go for counseling as they should,” said Ms. Kahenya. An even bigger challenge, according to her, is the fear that the counselor would share one’s problems and issues with other people. As a result, most people prefer to keep their secrets to
themselves. This, she adds, is besides the ignorance of believing that the counselor may not be of help to them.
Unique to her however, she supposes, is the familiarity between her and the employees. s. Kahenya was, however, quick to clarify that nobody should fear approaching her when they need her assistance because confidentiality is key in her job. She says that the Kenya Counsel and Psychological Association (KCPA), to which she is a member, has strict guidelines in as far as confidentiality is concerned. The role of that association is to treat both the counsellor and their client justly.
The codes of the association, she adds, is the principle of confidence and the code of contracting in counseling entails confidentiality, and the mode of how the
entire counseling process is done, although the client is the one who decides on how it will be conducted. “In order to ensure people consider counseling and look out for assistance when they have a problem to share, education is very crucial. People should be enlightened on the importance of counseling to their lives,” said Ms. Kahenya, who loves reading in her free time which helps her do research.
Among the challenges she faces in her day to day routine job is failure by the employees to believe in her as they seem not to be convinced that she can assist them with whatever issue they are going through, and forgetting that she is a counsellor and not an advisor.
She, therefore, appeals for support from the School, initially in terms of equipping her office so that the counselling environment remains conducive for people to feel comfortable and ready to open up. “Counseling is important, so people should do it once a disturbing issue occurs to them. The earlier they do it the better,” she said, adding that her job at KSG entails ensuring employee’s satisfaction and to propel the School’s counseling unit a notch higher in terms of employees behaviour. She argued that the most important part of counseling is that the burden is shared which allows the concerned party to open up and that gesture eases one’s problem hence helping them not to make irrational decisions.
In her parting shot, Ms. Kahenya urges people not to shy away from counseling as it is of great importance to them. Instead, she advises all to take advantage and approach her anytime as she is always available.
By Gladys Salat