Frequently Asked Questions about Counselling

Below are some of the questions asked by those thinking of attending counselling. We hope we have been able to answer these in a way which makes you feel more confident therapy, gives a clearer picture of what to expect.

How can counselling help me?

Counselling offers you a safe and confidential space to talk about any issues which are affecting your life. It is an opportunity to make sense of your individual circumstances, which may be confusing, painful or uncomfortable, with someone who is trained to listen attentively and can help and support you through a process of change.

What will happen in my first session?

Before your first session of counselling you will have the opportunity to talk with a counsellor, who will have taken some personal details such as the name of your GP, details of medications, emergency contacts etc.. You will also have the opportunity to talk about some of the issues affecting you. Even after this assessment we understand your first session of actual counselling may seem very daunting. It may be that you don’t know how to start talking or what to say – don’t worry! Your counsellor is trained to help you feel at ease and won’t push you to discuss anything you are not ready to. We aim to make our counselling rooms as comfortable as possible – no couch – just a couple of chairs, a table, and the provision of a glass of water if you need it!

Who get's to know what I say?

Everything you discuss with you counsellor is confidential. There are certain legal requirements where confidentiality may be broken. Counsellors are bound by the Children Act 1989/2004 and the Prevention of Terrorism Act (2005). Confidentiality may also be broken if your counsellor believes you are a danger to yourself or others, however this will always discussed with you before action is taken. 

What if I don’t get on with my counsellor?

The relationship between yourself and your counsellor is of paramount importance. If at any time you feel you are not getting on with your counsellor or you feel that the type of therapy offered is not for you then of course you are free to leave our service. However, it might be of great benefit to you to talk about why you feel this is. This may help you for future therapy, or may in fact enable you and your counsellor to overcome the difficulties you are experiencing.

I’ve heard counselling can make you feel worse, is that right?

Counselling is a very personal process. It is sometimes necessary to talk about feelings or events in your life which are very painful. Your counsellor will help you manage these feelings in a safe environment and will discuss with you how you may support yourself between sessions. Issues of confidentiality and record keeping will be discussed with you at your initial assessment.

How long will the session last?

Sessions usually last 50 minutes.

How often will I see my counsellor?

Sessions are usually offered on a weekly basis, however this may vary depending on your personal circumstances, or how you and your counsellor feel you are progressing – it may be that sessions move towards fortnightly or even monthly as you begin to feel more confident about your issues/change in your life.

My partner/GP/friend thinks I need counselling but I’m not sure?

Only you can decide whether you need or feel able to explore counselling. Sometimes talking confidentially to someone who is not a friend or a family member can make all the difference . Counselling provides space for YOU to explore and understand how you feel, and what would make a difference to you.

I’ve had counselling before and it didn’t work, how can I sure it will work this time?

One of the important issues we will look at is why you think it didn’t work. It may not have been the right time for you to be in counselling, or it may be that the type of counselling you had wasn’t right for you. Therapy doesn’t work for everyone all the time, and it can be a daunting task to carry on. We will look at what makes you want to come into counselling again and what you hope to gain from it. It can take a few attempts to find out what’s right for you and we will do all we can to find out what you need at the particular time.

What’s the difference between counselling and psychotherapy?

Essentially counselling and psychotherapy are the same thing. They both offer support for those suffering from a range of emotional and mental health issues. There is some debate that psychotherapy focuses on longer-term, deeply embedded problems, however this is not always the case. The main thing is that you feel confident with your therapist, that you find out what they offer and how they will work with you is something you feel suits you.

Further information can be found at www.bacp.co.uk. This site provides some very useful information; look out also for the link to “it’s good to talk” which also provides information on what to expect. Of course we are more than happy to answer any further questions you may have, about counselling or psychotherapy in general, or about the services we offer.