What is counselling?

Being self-aware and having the capability to think and feel emotions with clarity and understanding is part and parcel of being human. Unlike animals, our thought processes rely on far more than instinct alone.

Because of this, there is scope for the way we think to become a problem and to affect our emotions. If we go back a few hundred years we can see that psychological issues were approached with fear and unnecessarily invasive treatments. Thanks to the evolution of science and technology we now have a clearer understanding of the human brain and are able to look at these issues in a different way.

Today, the art of talking therapies such as counselling are used to help people come to terms with any problems they are facing, with an ultimate aim of overcoming them.

Counselling falls under the umbrella term ‘talking therapies’ and allows people to discuss their problems and any difficult feelings they encounter in a safe, confidential environment. The term can mean different things to different people, but in general it is a process people seek when they want to change something in their lives or simply explore their thoughts and feelings in more depth.

A counsellor is not there to sit you down and tell you what to do – instead they will encourage you to talk about what’s bothering you in order to uncover any root causes and identify your specific ways of thinking. The counsellor may then look to create a plan of action to either help you reconcile your issues or help you to find ways of coping.

Counselling does not come in a cookie-cutter format and each session is generally tailored to the individual. There is flexibility within this type of therapy that allows for a variety of counselling formats, including:

  • Face-to-face – This is when you make an appointment with a counsellor to see them in person, usually at their practice. Face-to-face sessions are one of the more popular therapy formats because they provide an opportunity for you to react to any emotions that arise there and then.
  • Individual or group – You may choose to see a counsellor by yourself, or if you prefer you could join a counselling group with people experiencing similar issues. Going to a group counselling session can be helpful if you want to discuss your issues with people who are going through similar problems and you may even gain yourself a support network. Alternatively, you may wish to see a counsellor alone to preserve your privacy and concentrate on your own feelings.
  • Telephone counselling – For some, telephone counselling offers a helpful alternative to face-to-face counselling. This involves talking to your counsellor over the phone instead of in person. This form of counselling can be particularly useful for those too busy to attend face-to-face sessions, and can be carried out in the comfort of your own home. This format also tends to be more flexible and can potentially reduce waiting list times.
  • Online counselling – Some people prefer not to physically speak to a counsellor at all, utilizing technology and emailing their counsellor instead. This form of counselling allows you to take the time to think through what you wish to discuss, and many find the act of physically writing their issues down cathartic. Online counselling also offers you the chance to protect your anonymity.
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