BACP Register of Counsellors and Psychotherapists. The British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy

About Counselling and Psychotherapy

Do I need to see a counsellor?

Some people hesitate about seeing a counsellor, perhaps because they believe their problems are too insignificant, or they worry that talking won't help and that they should be able to sort their difficulties out by themselves. Many people also quite understandably do not know what to expect from counselling and they hesitate to seek help for this reason. Yet the reality is that everyone experiences difficult periods at one time or another and a significant amount of people seek help from a counsellor or psychotherapist at some point in their lives.

This may have been triggered by a specific event such as a bereavement or job loss, or for some, it may be that the stresses of modern-day life have caught up with them. For others, there is no apparent specific problem and yet suddenly they feel as though life lacks a purpose for them. In other instances, people may be struggling with ongoing issues relating to low self esteem, poor health, depression or anxiety where the root cause does not seem clear.

Occasionally, a specialised agency may be better placed to help or at least to complement the work of the counsellor. If this appears to be the case, I would discuss this with you in our first meeting and help you evaluate whether you might like to contact these alternative sources.

How can counselling help?

Counselling helps in two main ways. It provides a unique opportunity for people to speak in confidence with an objective person outside of their day-to-day environment, who can give his/her undivided attention to whatever is troubling them. Furthermore, a counsellor is trained to be receptive to what is going on and to know when and how to ask the right questions. The combined experience of really being listened to, together with the gradual gaining of new insight into their difficulties, provides people with an opportunity to approach things in a different way.

Counselling does not involve giving direct advice as a counsellor is trained to help you arrive at your own informed decisions and find your own answers. Furthermore, a counsellor cannot make you feel better. However, (s)he can accept and support you in whatever you are feeling and help you move on from this in your own time. Ultimately, one of the aims of counselling is to help you become more fulfilled, either within yourself or in certain aspects of your life. This will mean different things for different people and part of my role as a counsellor is to help you make sense of your particular issue and the personal meaning you place on this and to help you find new options in the way you relate to yourself, other people or situations. It is a co-operative process, in which both client and counsellor work together to find more fulfilment for you as the client.

Counselling or Psychotherapy?

In many ways the terms counselling and psychotherapy are interchangeable as there is considerable overlap and both involve talking through issues of concern to you. In general, 'counselling' relates to shorter term work and 'psychotherapy' to longer, more in-depth work. In counselling, I may be helping you work through a difficult situation in your life and enabling you to find a way forward. In psychotherapy, I may be helping you to get to grips with issues which have been around for a long time, which may be confusing or complex, and which are affecting the quality of your life and relationships.

Ultimately, whatever issues you bring, the breadth and depth of the work we do together will depend on you; I will help you to identify what is useful to you as we go along and then tailor the work accordingly.