Old Age Counselling

Types of Counseling

Counseling has been found to be effective for older adults experiencing distress, and it’s clearly superior to medication because of the increased risk of pharmacological side effects in the elderly. When indicated, a combination of medication and counseling can be a successful intervention for psychological symptoms.

Both individual and group counseling are available for older adults seeking mental health treatment. Individual counseling provides older clients the time and privacy to discuss thoughts and feelings they may be experiencing. Group counseling has also been shown to be efficacious with an elderly population, and it provides an additional benefit of decreased isolation through interaction among members. Common types of groups include reminiscence (integrating past memories into present-day functioning), interpersonal (exploring personal interactions and relationships), current events (encouraging attention to current news), and adjustment (focusing on transitions).

Regardless of the type of counseling intervention, a thorough assessment of the client’s needs is required. A clinical interview is often sufficient, but additional age-sensitive instruments (e.g., Geriatric Depression Inventory) can be used when further assessment is needed. In addition, counselors should be knowledgeable of when to refer (e.g., to a primary care physician to rule out medical concerns, to a specialist such as a neuropsychologist for cognitive testing, or to a nutritionist for further exploration of diet) as well as aware of appropriate community resources.