10 things you need to know about counselling
1.What is counselling?
Counselling is a talking therapy that should be done by a trained professional. It will give you a regular time and place each week to talk about and understand your difficulties and what you might be able to do about them, somewhere that is dependable, confidential, and free from the distractions of life
2.Why choose counselling?
Sometimes you can feel alone or isolated with nobody to talk to or at other times, even where you have the most supportive family and friends, you can find it difficult if not impossible to explain why you may be feeling or behaving the way you do. Or you may just not want to burden the people you love with your problems and it can just be easier to talk about personal, family, or relationship issues with a person who is not involved.
3.What kinds of problems can counselling help me with?
You may want counselling because of difficult experiences you’ve been going through, such as a relationship breakdown, bereavement or redundancy, trauma, health issues, bullying and stress at work.
You may want help dealing with feelings of sadness, anger, anxiety or low confidence or you may be self-harming.
Counselling can also help you overcome mental health problems, such as depression or an eating disorder, even if you are already getting other kinds of help from a GP or psychiatrist. It can also help you come to terms with an ongoing physical problem, illness or disability.
Counselling can also be a means of coping with physical symptoms like pain that doctors can’t alleviate. If your GP can’t find a physical cause for your problems, you may want to look further to see whether there is a psychological side to your symptoms. This is more common than you think.
4.Are qualifications important?
It is important to check that any counsellor you choose is a member of, or even better, accredited with a professional organisation. Here in the UK the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) is a key umbrella organisation for counselling. Most counsellors are registered with it, and many are accredited by it, but this is not yet a legal requirement.
I am a BACP Accredited Counsellor/Psychotherapist which means that I have met their strict criteria for qualified and experienced therapists, and that I work in accordance with their guidelines. In order to maintain my accreditation I undergo at least 30 hours of professional development each year by attending on-going training and other types of personal development.
My accreditation also means that you have access to their complaints procedure for your safety and protection.
5.How much should I expect to pay?
Private Counsellors charge a typical fee of around £40-75 per session. I charge £50 per session. I believe that this fee is in line with my considerable experience and qualifications and booking sessions in advance reinforces your commitment to the counselling and ensures that you value it appropriately.
You can get free short term counselling through your GP for certain problems, however there does tend to be long waiting lists and you ca't choose the counsellor you want.
6.How long does counselling usually last?
Counselling can be either open-ended or time-limited, depending on where you go and who you see. I can work long term or short term depending on what is best for you. During the first few sessions, we will decide together whether or not the work should be open-ended or shorter term. This will depend on what the problems are and what our goals for counselling may be. It is interesting that the average amount of sessions people have in the UK is between 5 & 6.
7.Is it confidential?
The confidential nature of counselling is what makes it safe for clients; however there are some exceptions, which allow the counsellor to work responsibly. I am happy to discuss these possible exceptions with you before counselling begins so that you feel safe and confident to discuss your problems.
8.Is there any evidence that counselling works?
According to the Department of Health, counselling works well for people who are adjusting to life events, losses or illness, as well as people suffering from anxiety, stress, anger, depression or general psychological distress.
There is very clear evidence that the quality of the relationship between the client and the counsellor is very important if it is to work. This doesn’t mean there should be no difficulty in the relationship, but that client and counsellor should agree on the basic goals of the counselling and feel committed to working together.
9.Will I feel better straight away?
Some people feel an immediate sense of relief when they begin counselling, where as others may feel more anxious or distressed when they start, because they have to pay attention to difficult feelings that, in some way, they would prefer to ignore. In this situation, they may feel worse before they start to feel better. It’s always best to share with the counsellor any concerns you have about how you are reacting to the counselling.
"The most creative act you will ever undertake is the act of creating yourself."