WHAT IS COUNSELLING?
Counselling, also known as psychotherapy, is an umbrella term that comprises a range of talking therapies. Counselling is a process that allows an individual to explore many aspects of their life and feelings in an environment where they can talk openly and freely. The counsellor may encourage the client to examine parts of their life that they have found difficult to face before. There may be some exploration of early childhood experiences in order to bring to light, why an individual reacts or responds in certain ways in given situations. This is often followed by considering ways in which the client may change problematic, counterproductive or unhelpful behaviours. A counsellor neither judges nor offers advice. Instead, a counsellor gives the client an opportunity to express difficult feelings such as anger, resentment, guilt, and fear in a confidential environment.
In summary your work with a counsellor is about identifying and understanding your problems and behaviours so that you can begin to make positive changes. The counsellor acts as a mirror, reflecting the individual’s narrative, allowing them to see their story from different angles. A therapist may provide a fresh perspective on an individual’s situation, enabling them to view their problem through a wider lens. Therapeutic approaches to counselling, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy or humanistic therapy, serve as tools that help in reshaping thoughts and cultivating a more empowered and resilient mind. Anyone can benefit from counselling as it is aimed at providing support for a number of problems. This can be anything from recent major life changes, maintaining a work/life balance, experiencing bereavement, ongoing stress and anxiety, or to resolve an issue from the past that seems to be impacting your daily life.
How does COUNSELLING Work?
The primary strategy behind counselling is to help the client overcome their past painful and traumatic experiences through use of collaborative talking therapy techniques and develop sustainable and healthy coping strategies for the future. This process helps define and develop a clearer sense of self, thereby helping a person set goals and decide what they want out of life. It is a basic requirement of counselling sessions to provide a confidential, safe, non-judgemental environment for the client to share their personal feelings and thoughts. Despite the client sharing personal experiences and thoughts, it is important that a counsellor is not emotionally involved with a client and does not become so during counselling sessions. Intimate physical contact with a counsellor is not appropriate or acceptable under any circumstances.
Psychotherapy or counselling can be short-term (a few weeks to months), or long-term (few months to years). Short-term therapy is usually meant for dealing with more immediate challenges, while long-term therapy includes dealing with complex and longstanding problems. Depending on the goals of therapy, the frequency and duration of the sessions will be incorporated by the therapist in the treatment plan, designed upon a collaborative discussion between the therapist and the client. One session is about 50-60 minutes long and the cost of private therapy can be anywhere between £40-100, depending on the counsellor’s experience, qualifications, expertise and certifications.
The process of counselling involves several steps, such as:
Assessment: The counsellor gathers information about the client’s past, challenges and goals to tailor the approach and devise a well-suited treatment plan.
Goal Setting: Both the counsellor and the client collaborate to set specific, achievable goals for what the client aims to gain out of therapy.
Intervention: The therapist uses a combination of approaches and techniques to help the client reach their goal. These techniques can involve talking therapy, skill-building exercises and more.
Feedback and Evaluation: Upon implementation of techniques, the progress and improvements are regularly assessed and if required, adjustments are made to the treatment plan.
Discharge and Follow-up: Upon achievement of goals, counselling sessions may come to an end. However, follow-up sessions may be scheduled to to monitor progress and provide additional support if necessary.
INVEST IN YOURSELF AND YOUR WELLBEING
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF COUNSELLING?
Improves emotional and psychological well-being, alleviating stress and worries
Positive changes in the overall behaviour and attitude
Alleviates symptoms of sickness, leading to fewer medical problems
Proven to increase overall work satisfaction
Makes you more self-reliant by giving you the ability to decide for yourself and trust yourself
Helps build or regain confidence and become more assertive
A boost in self-esteem
What is the difference between counselling and therapy?
Counselling primarily addresses immediate issues like stress or grief with a focus on sharing practical strategies for coping with the problems. It is often short-term and aims to equip individuals with healthy ways of coping with their problems. Therapy, on the other hand, explores deeper emotional and psychological concerns by analysing past experiences and behavioural patterns. It is long-term and aims for lasting transformation and a better quality of life.
How do I know if I need counselling?
You may benefit from counselling if you:
- Experience persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety or irritability
- Struggle with managing stress, anger and anxiety in your day-to-day life
- Have difficulty concentrating on your work or making decisions
- Frequently face relationship problems or conflicts
- Experience sudden changes in appetite or sleep patterns
- Need support to cope with recent trauma or loss
- Find it challenging to cope with daily life and your emotions significantly impact your well-being
How should I prepare for my first counselling session?
Here’s what you need to do to prepare for your first counselling session:
- Clarify your goals: Reflect on what you hope to achieve from counselling. One of the ways to do this is to write down your goals on a piece of paper. This will help guide the discussion.
- Prepare Questions: Note down any specific questions, doubts or concerns you’d like to address in the first session.
- Compile Relevant Information: Gather any relevant and important medical, psychological or past counselling records that could aid the session, or provide your counsellor with information relevant to your prevailing problem.
- Practice Relaxation Techniques: It is completely normal to feel nervous before your first counselling session. Using relaxation exercises like deep breathing can help manage anxiety and nervousness before the session.
- Open Mindset and Trust: Confidentiality is a prerequisite of a counselling session. To get the most out of your session, it is important that you approach it with an open mind and be honest about your thoughts and feelings.
- Manage Expectations: Progress may take time and it is important to be patient with yourself and the counselling process.
Preparing for your first counselling session can help you make the most of the experience by making it more effective and comfortable.