What is Counselling and how does it work?

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What Is Counselling?

When people first come to see me I often find that, although they believe they need to see a counsellor, they have no idea what counselling is or how it works. In this blog I would like to try to demystify counselling for you
 
So what is counselling? Well It’s definitely not tea and sympathy! Counselling is a process that empowers people and can set them free from problems that ruin their quality of life
 
Counselling Works::
 
*Through a working alliance between the client and the counsellor; meaning that they work together to solve problems
 
*Through the counsellor being empathic, non judgmental and real in the relationship and through understanding that counselling is a process, not a quick fix
 
*Through the counsellor providing a therapeutic environment where the client feels it’s safe to trust the counsellor
 
*Through a clear agreement between counsellor and client, of confidentiality and complete autonomy for the client. Autonomy means that the client has freedom of choice and the right to make his/her own decisions in the therapy sessions
 
*Through agreeing clear boundaries of day and time. Clients can rest assured that the counsellor will be available to give them their undivided attention, on the same day and at the same time, for an hour every week for as long as the counselling process continues
 
*Through the client feeling comfortable enough with the counsellor to be able to open up and talk without holding back. In other words talking therapy
 
*Through the counsellor having experience and good listening skills. Counselling can be a difficult experience initially as it can stir up painful feelings. However, it’s necessary to bring those feelings to the surface in order to process them and move on. This is one reason why trusting the counsellor is so important.
 
*Through the knowledge, experience and insight that enables the counsellor to identify approaches to therapy that are best suited to the individual client. An example may be Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for someone who tends to think negatively. Another may be Transactional Analysis (TA) for someone who has experienced childhood trauma. An approach is often chosen by first trying to establish the root of the problem through talking therapy. Anxiety and depression, for example, don’t appear out of nowhere; they have a root cause.

There is a large variety of approaches to therapy and counsellors tend to work in a variety of ways, depending on their training and their development within the profession
 
*Through the counsellor having credible, recognised qualifications such as being registered with an organisation like the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy or the United Kingdom Register of Counsellors and Psychotherapists
 
*Through the therapist adhering to a professional ethical code and being accountable for their client work
 
How long does Counselling take?
 
It depends on the nature and depth of the problem. If you have limited resources to pay for therapy consider telling the counsellor you can only afford a specific number of sessions. You may be offered CBT, which can be very focused but may be less effective for complex problems without talking therapy. However, it may be of some help to start with and it may possible for you to return for more therapy later on
 
What Kind of People do Therapists See?
 
The answer is probably people like you. Anyone who wants to talk about their thoughts, feelings and behaviour and anyone who is experiencing emotional or mental health issues. In my own practice I see professionals, self-employed people and a variety of others, predominantly aged 18 – 70.
 
Self Help
 
Sometimes people tell me they’ve tried self help books or websites and they struggle to understand why counselling can help where self help has failed. Self help can be useful for many people where the issue is superficial and not too problematic but in more complex situations people usually need professional help. Also, sometimes people have blind spots in their feelings, thoughts and behaviour which a professional can help them to see
 
What kind of problems can a counsellor help people with?

There’s a very long list but Some of them are:
 
Anxiety, Depression, Abuse, Stress at work
Grief and Loss, Still birth and miscarriage
The anticipation of loss (such as when a loved one who is terminally ill)
Eating Disorders, Self harm, Suicidal thoughts
Obsessive Compulsive Disorders, Anger management problems
Assertiveness difficulties, Low self esteem, Bullying
Relationship problems, Family problems, Separation and Divorce
Post traumatic stress
 
This is not an exhaustive list, so if you have an issue that isn’t listed here, and wonder if a counsellor can help you, please get in touch and ask me. For details see the contact page.

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