What is counselling?

Counselling is a time and space for you to talk about whatever is troubling you. It can be a great relief to share your worries and fears with someone who acknowledges your feelings and is able to help you reach a positive solution.

Counselling isn't something that is needed because you are weak or can't cope with life but a way in which to help you get a different perspective on life. The counsellor's aim is to create a safe, confidential and non-judgemental relationship in which you can feel confident to speak freely.

The counsellor's role is to work alongside you to help you make sense of your issues or problems, gain new insights and come to your own decisions about a way forward.


How does counselling work?

It may be difficult for you to talk to family and friends about personal issues. Being able to talk to someone is important as it helps you to make sense of confused and painful thoughts and feelings which you may have held inside yourself for a long time.

Sharing this with a professional counsellor means that you don't have to feel on your own with the problem anymore. The counsellor will listen to you and make observations about what they hear and see. They will ask questions which enable you to go deeper into an understanding of your thoughts, feelings and behaviour.

The counsellor may suggest exercises or activities that could help resolve issues. These may be done during the counselling session or at home, and may involve for example, relaxation techniques, writing or drawing about your thoughts and feelings.


What can I expect from my counsellor?

The counsellor will always treat you, and your feelings, with dignity and respect. A counsellor should never force you to do anything you are uncomfortable with. You are always free to say no.

A counsellor will not tell you what to do and will generally not give answers to problems or advice, however, they may make suggestions and introduce you to different ways of looking at things or new skills such as problem-solving.

During your counselling sessions you will be encouraged to express your feelings and emotions freely. By discussing your concerns with you, the counsellor can help you to gain a better understanding of your feelings and thought processes, as well as identifying ways of finding your own solutions to problems.

The counsellor will be able to help you recognise the effects other people and their actions have on you and the effects that you have on other people and explore alternative ways of dealing with and managing your feelings thoughts and situations.


How many sessions will I need?

Think of therapy as part of a journey, whereby you will know when you reach the end of the journey, or feel that you want to stop. For some clients a few sessions may be sufficient, whilst others may prefer to continue on a longer term basis.

Counselling can be open ended or time limited. Open ended therapy means attending regular sessions (usually weekly) until you reach a stage whereby you feel confident and comfortable to work towards a suitable date for ending.

Time limited therapy is geared towards a specific number of sessions, ranging anything from 6 to 12 which can be agreed at the initial meeting.


Will I become upset during a session and how will I deal with this?

As counselling can involve talking about painful memories and difficult emotions, you may feel vulnerable at times during counselling. This is a normal part of the healing process – painful emotions often need to be expressed and experienced before they can be resolved.

Your counsellor will discuss with you ways of taking care of yourself at these times. The counsellor is always there to support you. Talking about problems that you are experiencing may release feelings such as anger, pain and sadness that you may have tried to bury for a long time.

The session is a time to help you to express and release such emotions within a safe and secure environment. Tears are a natural means of releasing various emotions. You are always in control of what is talked about in the session.


When will I start to feel better?

This will vary from person to person. Many people begin to notice a sense of relief and positive changes in their thoughts, feelings or behaviour after the first couple of sessions. Others may need longer as changes may be subtle and take place over time.

You may not even realise the benefits of the counselling until it has ended or even several months after it has finished. Issues and problems which are more complex or have been going on for a long time may take longer to resolve.

Much of the improvement also depends on the client's commitment to the process and their willingness to reflect and develop awareness as well as complete homework set between each session.


Are there any risks?

If you're struggling with something, whether you know what it is or not, speaking with a professional can give you the tools you need to move on and start to feel better. No matter what your personal background, age or gender, counselling can be a life-changing experience and is the ultimate investment in your own well-being.

Some clients have concerns about what might happen if they start exploring their own psychological makeup. Some are concerned that a therapist might cause emotional harm or read their thoughts. It is natural to be apprehensive about something new.

Your counsellor will be happy to discuss any concerns you have and you are free to ask the counsellor as many questions as you need too. It is important to remember that counsellors are trained and experienced in supporting clients who are feeling apprehensive, lost, scared, sad or vulnerable and they are there to support you and help you cope with difficult feeling and thoughts.


Is counselling confidential?

Counselling is confidential except in circumstances where it is disclosed that a client wishes to harm themselves or somebody else, or where information is disclosed relating to a criminal offence. This will be discussed with you in the first session so that you are clear under what circumstances confidentiality needs to be discussed with a third party.

The counselling relationship is strictly professional. It is against ethical boundaries for a counsellor to invite you to meet them socially or to strike up a relationship with you outside of the counselling room. Clear boundaries will be discussed and set in the first session.


What is the BACP?


British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) was originally formed in 1970 and is the largest and broadest body within the counselling and psychotherapy sector. Through its work BACP ensures that it meets its remit of public protection whilst also developing and informing its members.

Its work with large and small organisations within the sector ranges from advising schools on how to set up a counselling service, assisting the NHS on service provision, working with voluntary agencies and supporting independent practitioners. BACP also participates in the development of counselling and psychotherapy at an international level.



"You can conquer almost any fear if you will only make up your mind to do so. For remember, fear doesn't exist anywhere except in the mind".  Dale Carnegie