Welcome to this resource which has been designed for you, student nurses and midwives [SNM], who on graduation will be caregivers in a variety of settings and working under various conditions. As a caregiver, one of your roles is to conduct counseling sessions that will result in equipping your clients and patients to cope with life's problems and challenges.

The term “caregiver” is not new, because “giving care” as a practice has always been a part of our tradition. Since time immemorial, human beings have lived together. Sharing emotions, including happiness as well as sorrow, has always been a common practice. Giving assistance in times of need, such as sickness, war, and natural disasters, is an act that comes naturally to most human beings.

In traditional societies like Malawi, giving care to those that needed it was a basic function of the family. The needs—whether emotional or physical—of all family members were met within the extended family. The older members counseled the younger ones and the younger ones sought advice from the elders. Sharing thoughts and activities with a large family was the accepted norm.

In recent times, social and economic changes have brought changes in the structure of the family. More people have left their communities to seek employment, making extended families less common. More children than ever before are orphans, having lost one or both parents to war, sickness, accidents, or poverty and are more vulnerable than those with one or all parents.  Therefore as a health worker, you play a key role in counseling for various conditions.

This resource is the first in a series that is designed to help you, acquire the necessary skills, knowledge, and understanding to effectively counsel clients and patients especially the young people. These resources are aimed at equipping you with knowledge and skills related to counseling. The resources will also offer techniques on how a Counselor can help a client understand his/her problem, keep his or her determination to change, learn new skills, and access needed community support. The knowledge and skills that you learn through these resources will not replace those that professionally qualified counselors have. Instead the skills and knowledge in these resources are meant to give you a basis for counseling.

These resources should therefore be viewed as blueprints that will guide you in counseling clients and patients. They are not a substitute for training and supervision nor appropriate for all clients or clinical programs. Each unit has been developed as stand-alone, self-instructional material. But you will build on from the previous unit in accordance to your stage of program.

You may find it helpful to use the resource/s with a group of your peers, discussing the issues and case studies raised and comparing these with real-life cases that you and your colleagues have encountered during your training as nurses and midwives. You can also learn from one another and from the experiences that you have had during your clinical experiences.

Basis for this resource: These resources are based on a number of OER resources from various repositories that were used and modified to fit the Malawi context.

Who Should Use This Resource?

The resources will be used to assist student nurses and midwives undergoing a generic degree to effectively counsel clients and patients on various issues. However, any health care provider can use it.


This booklet has four units as follows:

  1. Overview On Counseling
  2. Theories Of Counseling
  3. Characteristics of Effective Counseling
  4. Dealing With Substance Abuse

As you work through the materials, you will notice symbols in the left margin of some pages. These “icons” will guide you through the content and are used to note the following:

Overview of the unit and items to note
Stories, examples, and case studies to illustrate the content of the unit
Self-assessment activities to test your knowledge of the material you have learned.
Summary of key points to remember from the unit
Group activities to give you practice in working as a team through application your knowledge and encourage you to reflect on your own experiences
Suggested answers to the self-assessment activities
References cited in the unit, suggested resources for further reading, and a glossary of key terms used in the unit
Objectives of the unit and subunits
Related video content on CD
Click here to see acknowledgements

Click here to see references
Click here to see licences
Click here to see a list of videos
Print Version
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Last Modified: 01/08/2012