are services designed to help people who wish to make changes in their
lives by offering 'talking treatment'. However, specific advice is not
could a counsellor help me?
You should expect one or a series of confidential, professional
appointments of up to an hour in length in a suitable private setting.
are the key elements of this process?
provided when you wish to make changes in your life
opportunity to make sense of your individual circumstances
with a counsellor who helps identify the choices for change
for the individual during their process of change
result leaving you better equipped to cope for the future
do counsellors work then?
They usually work face-to-face employing a range of techniques to suit
your circumstances. However, with the advent of the Internet some
counsellors may use a mixture of telephone, email and video conferencing.
are there different approaches?
Different therapies have different styles. For instance, in cognitive
behavioural and sex therapy there will be 'homework' to do. In bereavement
therapy, there would be a lot of emphasis on supporting you through some
difficult emotions. A psychodynamic counsellor would look at your past
while another type of counsellor might focus solely on your life in the
present-day. Some therapies concentrate on the future.
do they work?
Many approaches regard your developing relationship with the counsellor as
a kind of model which may reveal the patterns of behaviour that cause you
problems. Others look at your family relationships and who wielded the
power in your house when you were growing up. Others focus on your
thinking style and changes in behaviour. There are big distinctions
between therapy where you do most of the talking and those which involve
much more of a dialogue. But don't worry, whichever approach is adopted
you should be able to make the changes you are looking for. The first
appointment, sometimes called an assessment session, is an opportunity to
explore issues that could affect the relationship between you and the
counsellor as well as your personal needs for
I get hooked on therapy?
The goal of any talking treatment is your increased self-awareness, skill
acquisition and independence. During therapy, you may develop some
feelings of reliance upon the counsellor. Although a normal reaction it
can, at times, feel worrying. But a professional counsellor knows exactly
how to handle these feelings and is genuinely interested in helping you
there a counsellor for my situation?
Counsellors practise in all walks of life and all parts of society - from a
clinic to the boardrooms of top companies. We are trained in situations as
diverse as: coping with anxiety and bereavement, relationship
difficulties, educational dilemmas, sexual and racial issues, personal
problem-solving as well as helping victims of child abuse and trauma.
should I ask when I contact a counsellor for the first
Ask about the time, place, cost and duration of meetings plus any charges
for cancelled appointments and holidays. You may also wish to enquire
about the counsellor professional membership,
experience and training. During this time you will build up an idea of
what is involved and you will be able to make up your mind if this is a
person you can work with. It is important to be clear about what you want
and what the counsellor is able to offer.
Everything you discuss is confidential between you and the counsellor. There can be certain legal exceptions and the
practitioner should clarify this with you prior to the establishment of
any agreed contract for working.
All counsellors need to be in supervision which is a form of consultative
support and must therefore discuss their work with at least one other
person. But a supervisor is also bound by rules of confidentiality so in
practice there is no likelihood of any breach of trust.
if I am not happy with the counsellor when we meet?
During the assessment or first session be prepared to trust your instinct
because your relationship with the counsellor is at the heart of the work.
If you are unsure about the practitioner seek another one. Having
confidence in your practitioner is very important and will enable you to
get the best out of the time you spend together. Always remember it is you
who are the customer.
What about counselling online?
There are a number of counsellors now offering an online service. Before
entering into any contractual arrangement you should satisfy yourself that
the counsellor is qualified to provide the service. Although in
some situations there are benefits to counselling through the Internet,
confidentiality is a key concern. For example, you may wish to ask if your
notes are protected by passwords and encrypted? What happens when there are technical problems or the
counsellor is away? Remember that online discussions must pass through
an Internet Service Provider (ISP) where security may not be a high
can I get counselling for a member of my family or a friend?
cannot. A person cannot be 'sent' for counselling. They
must wish to use the service and make the approach themselves. By all
means, find out the names of counsellors on their behalf but please
encourage a direct approach by the person who needs the help.
What is the 'contract'?
sample of the sort of contract you and the counsellor might agree on.
the difference between a 'trained' and a 'qualified' counsellor?
Normally, a trained
counsellor is one who has completed the one-year Certificate Of
Counselling training course. A qualified counsellor is one who has
completed both the one-year Certificate and the two-year long Diploma In
Counselling or Diploma in Professional Counselling or other professional
diploma in a particular counselling field.
Extracts taken from BACP