Counselling – what it means


Counselling offers a safe, non-judgemental space for you to talk about issues in your life; or maybe thoughts and feelings that are difficult to express in other environments or share with friends and family.  The counselling relationship will provide an environment of trust that will help you to identify what might be creating the problems in your life, to see past events from new perspectives and work with the therapist to find ways of reappraising your life, which in turn, may help you to re-evaluate the ways you think, respond emotionally, behave and react in certain situations to make your life better and improve well-being.

Choosing a counsellor can be quite a confusing task.  It is important to find someone with whom you can develop a good rapport and relationship and also who offers a therapeutic approach that best meets your needs.   There are many different approaches, however, the most widely used are:

Psychodynamic – an approach that believes that the unconscious is responsible for guiding our feelings and actions, and that formative experiences during childhood may be the cause of phobias and neuroses in adulthood.

Person-Centred or Humanistic – this approach focuses on the here and now and relies on a strong therapeutic relationship that can help build confidence and challenge unhelpful ways of thinking.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – this approach looks at the way that emotions and thoughts influence our behaviour.  The belief is that if we can change the way we think about things, this can change the way we feel and act in various circumstances.  This is the approach adopted by the NHS as it is short-term and it claims success with issues such as anxiety, depression and phobias.

Integrative Approaches – these bring together compatible aspects of other approaches to create a new way of working and conceptualising how issues can be viewed and addressed.

If you wish to research further, a good place to begin is the British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists (BACP), who are one of the primary regulatory bodies governing counsellors and psychotherapists    You will find information on different therapeutic approaches and what you can expect from therapy plus much more.   The charity, ’Mind’ ( is also a useful source of information about mental health issues and community support