Counselling is a huge subject. There are lots written but what do you need to know about counselling if you want to get help from a counsellor?
This blog answers some questions and provides you with information that will help you if you decide to have counselling.
1. What is counselling?
Counselling is a talking therapy. It helps people to understand their situation and themselves, to feel better, work better, develop better relationships, find solutions or acceptance with problems and much more. It’s so much more than a chat.
The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy states the following:
‘Therapy provides a safe and confidential space for you to talk to a trained professional about your issues and concerns. Your therapist will help you explore your thoughts, feelings and behaviours so you can develop a better understanding of yourself and of others.
A counsellor will not give you their opinions or advice or prescribe medication. They will help you find your own solutions – whether that’s making effective changes in your life or finding ways of coping with your problems.’
2. When did talking therapies start?
Counselling started as a profession by Sigmund Freud when he developed psychoanalysis. This was a method of helping the client to talk and get any problems off their chest.
It was sometimes a long process as the client was allowed to talk about whatever they wanted to talk about.
Since then there approaches to counselling have developed. The most common types of counselling include Person-Centred Counselling, Transactional Analysis, Gestalt, and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).
Today there are hundreds of different approaches to counselling.
3. What’s the difference between counselling, psychotherapy, psychology and psychiatry?
Often when you are looking for someone to talk to to help with a problem you will see counsellors, psychotherapists, psychologists and psychiatrists advertised. Which one do you choose?
Counselling and psychotherapy can be used to mean similar things. In the therapy world, there is a big debate about the differences.
Both are talking therapies but psychotherapists tend to see clients who are long term and have more complex problems, yet that isn’t always the case.
Both counsellors and psychotherapists can belong to professional bodies such as the National Counselling Society (NCS) or the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and will have done training although these talking therapies do not have statutory regulation. Counsellors are governed by voluntary regulation.
Furthermore, different counsellors may have different qualifications.
Counsellors and psychotherapists work privately, in charities, in healthcare establishments or for agencies. Deciding who to choose often comes down to personal choice with the person that either specialises in the problem or you feel comfortable talking with.
You can self refer or your doctor can refer you to a counsellor.
Counselling psychologists are similar but they work on a more science base and they are regulated and a member of the Health and Care Professional Council. Psychologists train at university and are registered with their professional body, e.g. the British Psychological Society.
Psychologists will specialise. For example, there are educational psychologists, clinical psychologists, sports psychologists, organisational psychologists etc. It’s usually a doctor who refers to a counselling psychologist but some also work privately.
Psychiatrists are doctors that deal with medical issues that cause psychological ill-health. For example, they help people with psychosis, schizophrenia, and Bipolar disorder. They often work with psychologists. Psychiatrists assess mental health and prescribe medications where necessary. To do this they need to talk with clients and listen to the problems. Psychiatrists work in healthcare so you would need a referral from your doctor.
4. How long will I need to see a counsellor?
That depends on the problem or problems, the type of counselling used and other personal circumstances. Most counselling is weeks or months. Sometimes it can go on for years with complex issues. 6-24 weeks is commonly used for people who go to see a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist (CBT). CBT is just one type of counselling that is often used today, but there are other successful approaches.
5. Will counsellors fix my problem?
When people ask for help they often want to be ‘fixed’ however counsellors do not give advice or tell you what you must do. They help you to see different perspectives, sometimes you might need help with psychoeducation and time to explore different options and feelings in order to either make changes or accept what can’t be changed.
It’s a partnership that helps you to understand yourself and others and make changes.
6. What’s best, counselling near me or online counselling?
There are many factors to consider between face to face counselling in your locality or online counselling. There are other options as well including telephone counselling, group counselling and chat room or text, and email help.
You need to consider your time, travelling costs, suitability of the counsellor in your area, and availability. Online might feel less personal but you can choose someone to meet your specific needs.
7. Is private counselling expensive?
Counselling offers help with issues that could be costing you your health, your relationships and stopping you meet your potential. Counselling will vary according to where you live, the experience and training of the counsellor, and sometimes if the session is in the evening or weekend.
Some charities provide free counselling however it is often time-limited.
There is no set fee for private counselling, however in the UK at this time £50 would be an average price but in the cities, it could be much more. Those who are considered experts in the area of counselling may charge more. Remember counsellors do lots of behind the scenes work to support clients.
8. What issues can counselling help with?
Counselling can help with many things as it gives you the opportunity to talk things through. However, not all the time in a counselling session will be talking. Sometimes people use creative ways to express themselves, for example, drawing and other times there are periods of silence as you think things over.
The most common things counselling helps with are:
- Relationship problems
- Work-related problems
- Feeling depressed or anxious
- Needing to talk to make a decision
- Letting go of negative emotions like anger, guilt, shame
- Bereavement and loss
- Major changes in your life like career changes, getting divorced or moving house
- Medical and psychiatric problems to work out and find solutions or acceptance
9. Could I feel worse with counselling?
The aim is to help you feel better however for some people they can get emotional when talking about trauma and they may feel worse for a short while. Nevertheless, people often say that they feel better after letting go of those negative thoughts. Counselling can be life-changing.
10. What is an Eco-Therapist?
Some counsellors take clients outside to walk in nature or if in a city to walk around the streets. The reason for this is that some people can think better outside, they feel better when walking and creative techniques can be used by the counsellor to help the client with their problem.
This type of counselling has got many names including Dereve counselling or Walk and talk counselling
11. Can I get remote counselling?
Yes, there are lots of ways to access counselling.
Most people think of face to face counselling where you go to the counsellor’s office but there are several other ways to access counselling depending on your needs, availability and the type of issue you need help with.
You can connect with a counsellor via video conferencing, for example, Zoom or Vsee. there are lots of benefits to this method including, no travelling costs and access at a time that suits you with a specialist from anywhere in the world. However, some people don’t like technology and some prefer to build a relationship with a real person.
Some people use counselling chat rooms. This allows you to be anonymous but it won’t help you with your specific issues.
Some charities have chat boxes where you can access help at any time but you won’t build a long term relationship with a person or be able to continue the chat the following week.
It is also possible to have counselling via email or texting. Fewer counsellors provide this service.
You can do ‘self-counselling. This is a method of using CBT to learn to understand your own throughs and feelings. For example, help with worry through the worry tree app
12. Where do I find a counsellor?
Recommendations are a good idea but remember that the counsellor might be a good fit for one person but not for another person with a different problem.
When you are looking for someone yourself, search on the web and include counselling directories and organisations that specialise in providing counsellors. Some larger companies also offer their staff counselling through an Employer Assistance Programme.
Some independent counsellors offer a free initial consultation so you can chat and find out more about them.
So you can:
- Ask your doctor for a referral to a National Health Service counsellor
- Search for a counsellor through counselling directories, online searches, recommendations, the library etc
For online or face to face counselling in Bournemouth, contact Linda at Awaken the Change.