This counselling page is for you – the person who is looking for help.
You might feel anxious, apprehensive, and ambivalent about starting counselling.
This is normal and means that you are a sensitive person who has emotional intelligence.
Feelings are complex, demanding, challenging and a guiding light to show you the way on the path of your life.
Whatever you choose to do I wish you all the best in your search for what you want.
Counselling is a principled relationship characterised by the application of one or more psychological
theories and a recognised set of communication skills, modified by experience, intuition and other
interpersonal factors, to clients’ intimate concerns, problems or aspirations. Its predominant ethos is one
of facilitation rather than of advice-giving or coercion. It may be of very brief or long duration, take place
in an organisational or private practice setting and may or may not overlap with practical, medical and
other matters of personal welfare.
It is both a distinctive activity undertaken by people agreeing to occupy the roles of counsellor and client
and it is an emergent profession…. It is a service sought by people in distress or in some degree of
confusion who wish to discuss and resolve these in a relationship which is more disciplined and
confidential than friendship, and perhaps less stigmatising than helping relationships offered in
traditional medical or psychiatric settings.
Feitham, C. and Dryden, W. (1993) Dictionary of Counselling. London, : Whurr
Counselling is a form of psychological or talking therapy that offers people a chance to change how they feel and to live better.
This page introduces and explains the most common types of individual face-to-face counselling in the UK and looks at the kinds of problems it can tackle, and who it can help.
It does not cover counselling for groups, couples or families. It is designed to help you to find a professionally trained counsellor.
What is counselling?
Counselling provides a regular time and space for people to talk about their troubles and explore difficult feelings in an environment that is dependable, free from intrusion and confidential. A counsellor should respect your viewpoint while helping you to deal with specific problems, cope with crises, improve your relationships, or develop better ways of living.
Despite the name, counsellors don’t usually offer advice. Instead, they help you to gain insight into your feelings and behaviour and to change your behaviour, if necessary. They do this by listening to what you have to say and commenting on it from their particular professional perspective.
The word ‘counselling’ covers a broad spectrum, from someone who is highly trained to someone who uses counselling skills (listening, reflecting back what you say, or clarifying) as part of another role, such as nursing. We use the term here to mean a talking therapy delivered by a trained professional.
Sessions usually take place once a week. Making this regular commitment gives you a better chance of finding out why you are having difficulties.
How can counselling help?
You may come to counselling because of difficult experiences you’ve been going through, such as a relationship breakdown, bereavement or redundancy. Or you may want help dealing with feelings of sadness, depression, anxiety or low self-worth that don’t seem to be connected to any particular event.
Louise had been feeling very distressed, following the death of her father from cancer one year earlier. She had not been aware of having any psychological difficulties before. She found herself unable to concentrate during the day, crying much of the time and unable to sleep at night. Her work was suffering and it was putting a strain on her relationship with her partner. A friend suggested that she try counselling.
Not knowing where to start, she went to her GP, who referred her to the practice counsellor. The counsellor offered her eight sessions of counselling. Although she was not sure, at first, whether she would be able to talk freely to a stranger, Louise soon became more comfortable with the counsellor and was able to express feelings about the loss of her father that she couldn’t trust anyone else with. She gradually felt better able to concentrate on her everyday life and felt less distressed.