The Counselling Assessment

A Short Story

Denise Thong
8 min readMay 12, 2022


Source: Martha Dominguez de Gouveia,


Today is John’s exam date. If he passes, he will be certified as a Catholic Mental Health Counsellor at the Catholic Psychiatric Hospital (CPH).

John’s teacher is none other than the famous Professor Stewards. Professor Stewards is known for his extreme and eccentric ways of teaching, which was generally tolerated given that he also produced the best counsellors.

Nonetheless, his opponents rightly criticise him for selecting only the most exceptional students to be among his brood.

Was it nature or nurture that produced these brilliant counsellors? Probably a combination of both.

Before we go on to discuss the details of John’s examination, perhaps, it is important to first offer some background information of the patients at CPH;

Most of the patients are from the higher echelons of society. This was frankly, a self-selective phenomenon. Given the high recovery rate of patients in this hospital, there was a long waiting list of patients eager to enter. This jacked up the fees. Eventually, only the rich and famous could afford to send their mentally-ill family members here.

John waited eagerly at the examination room for Prof. Stewards to enter.

Instead, he was greeted by a beautiful lady in a lab coat. She had an unfamiliar face. The lady smiled at John and said, “Hi, I am Margaret, your co-assessor for the day. Prof. Stewards has arranged for you to see three patients today. Your job is to do a preliminary assessment and to answer an ‘unknown question’ that will be posed by him at the end of the day.”

Patient Number One

Margaret led John into the first room and waited outside; A tiny and pale-looking lady sat at the edge of her bed. She looked very anxious.

“There are CCTVs watching me right now. I suspect that there is a microphone recording everything we are saying. We are being watched I tell you.” She mumbled to herself as John approached her.

John smiled kindly, in a gentle and loving voice he said, “What’s so scary about being watched? You look like a good woman, I doubt that they will capture any mischief.”



Denise Thong

Counsellor, Writer (Christianity, Children’s short stories)