What is Counselling?

• A confidential setting for exploring difficult issues
• A skilled professional offering support, insight and explanation when needed.
• An opportunity for you to make changes in yourself and in your life.
• A time to reflect
• A place to stand back from your problems, understand them in a more helpful way and find a way out.
• A way of developing healthy relationships.

In counselling you can expect to form a relationship with your counsellor that provides non-judgemental support and insight in a welcoming and confidential environment. Counsellors are trained in counselling skills that will empower you; helping you to understand and address problems in your life.

Counselling can help with any emotional issue you might be facing and that you feel you might like some help to deal with or work through. People will seek counselling for emotional issues such as bereavement; the sense of loss caused by life-events like divorce; relationship issues with family and partners; breaking free from depression; low self-esteem and coming to terms with traumatic experiences in the past. If your life is being impacted by these or other emotional issues, then counselling can help you.

If you were to make contact with a counsellor they would usually arrange an initial session with you and counsellors recommend that you treat that initial session as an ‘audition’ or ‘interview’ of the counsellor. This is your opportunity to check if you feel able to talk about how you feel, with that counsellor in that counselling room. There should be no obligation to book any further sessions beyond that initial session if you don’t feel able to talk with that counsellor and the counsellor will not be offended if you give that feedback to them. Research has shown that the success of the counselling treatment can depend on the quality of the relationship established between the client and counsellor, so a counsellor will want you to feel comfortable with them from the outset.

It may also be useful to know that there are a number of different counselling approaches that counsellors will train in and then offer to the public. Some counsellors may also train in more than one of those approaches and then select the approach they use with a client, based on what they feel would be most effective for that person. The different counselling approaches tend to fit within three main catagories:

Behavioural Therapies – These are based on the way you think (cognitive) and/or the way you behave. These therapies take the approach that it is possible to change, or recondition, our thoughts or behaviour to overcome specific problems. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is widely used in the NHS currently.

Psychoanalytic or Psychodynamic Therapies – based on an individual’s unconscious thoughts and perceptions that have developed throughout their childhood, and how these affect their current behaviour and thoughts. Freud was a pioneer of this therapy approach.

Humanistic Therapies – focus on self-development, growth and responsibilities. A Humanistic counsellor aims to provide a non-judgemental environment that enables the client to experience and accept more of who they are as a person so that the client can find their own way to move forward. Person-Centred counselling is the most well known humanistic approach.

An example of a model that integrates aspects of all three approaches is Transactional Analysis.

A counsellor will usually give details on their website about which approach they use and will be happy to answer any questions you may have about that.