Emotional intelligence, coping and health of non-professional counsellors
Apart from the exceptional landscapes, ideal weather, cultural diversity and other characteristics that typify South Africa, crime and HIV/AIDS are two of the most pressing phrases linked to our country. Victims of crime are at high risk of suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Many interventions have been initiated by the government to assist victims in overcoming the effects of crime, HIV/ AIDS and other social health problems on an emotional level, one of which is counselling. The paradigm shift from curing towards caring for HIV/AIDS positive individuals increased the demand for non-professional counsellors. However, without acquiring critical skills and attributes such as emotional intelligence, coping skills and so forth during a professional training programme, non-professional counsellors are at higher risk of suffering from secondary stress disorder. A neglected area as far as non-professional counsellors is concerned, is the well-being of the counsellors. It therefore becomes necessary to conduct research on the health of non-professional counsellors. The objective of this research was to determine the relationship between emotional intelligence, coping and health of non-professional counsellors in the North-West and Gauteng provinces. A cross-sectional survey design with an availability sample (N = 172) was taken from clinics and institutions where counselling was provided to victims of HIV/AIDS and social problems in the North-West and Gauteng Provinces. The Emotional Intelligence Scale, COPE and Health Subscale of the ASSET were used as measuring instruments. The factor analysis confirmed two factors for emotional intelligence, consisting of emotion expression and appraisal and emotion utilisation. Four factors were confirmed for coping, namely approach coping, avoidance, turning to religion and seeking emotional support. Health was found to comprise psychological health and physical health. Pearson product-moment correlation coefficients were used to specify the relationships between the variables. Results showed a statistically significant positive correlation between emotion expression and appraisal, emotion utilisation, as well as approach to coping and seeking emotional support. Emotion utilisation was statistically significantly positively correlated with seeking emotional support. Approach to coping was statistically significantly positively correlated with seeking emotional support, while avoidance was statistically significantly positively correlated with physical health. Turning to religion was statistically significantly positively correlated with seeking emotional support, and psychological health was statistically significantly positively correlated with physical health. Multiple regression analyses showed that nine per cent of the variance in psychological health was predicted by emotion expression, appraisal and emotion utilisation, whereas 19 per cent of the variance in psychological health was predicted by emotional intelligence and approach to coping strategies. The only significant predictors of psychological health were emotion utilisation and avoidance. Furthermore, the multiple regression analyses also showed that 15 per cent of the variance in physical health was predicted by emotion expression and appraisal, emotion utilisation, approach coping, avoidance, turning to religion and seeking emotional support. The only significant predictor of physical health was avoidance. Recommendations were made for future research.