What is Counselling, and how will it help me?

Counselling provides dedicated time and space for people to talk about things that are concerning or troubling them.

People tend to seek talking therapy when life has thrown them a curve-ball of some kind. Often people seek counselling for a specific reason, such as a bereavement or problems related to alcohol or drug use, but it doesn’t have to be related to a major life event. Many of us will have had difficult experiences at some stage of our lives that may have affected our self-esteem, or our ability to form meaningful relationships.

The core function of counselling  is to help identify how and why you are in the situation you are in and to think about changing that situation, should you wish (hint: there’s usually an implicit understanding that if you are seeking counselling you want things to change. Change is a big deal in all therapy, and wanting to change is a significant step towards achieving it).

Counselling will almost certainly involve talking about earlier life experiences, including childhood experiences, and linking them back to current concerns or difficulties. Counselling almost always takes place with both counsellor and client sitting in chairs facing each other – but it makes sense that the things we experience when we’re young will shape the way we view ourselves and others and that they will affect how we interact with the world around us.

Counselling is often described as “talking”, but it’s obviously more complex than that and a skilled counsellor should be able to help you open up about difficult experiences in a way that feels safe. It’s not unusual for people seeing a counsellor to talk about painful things and, as you’d expect, many people find that those conversations can provoke feelings of sadness and anger. The object is for those unpleasant feelings to be processed and understood in such a way that they stop having such a major impact on your day-to-day life.

In that sense, it’s easy to see why many people find being in counselling – or any therapy – difficult sometimes. We’re often taught to cope with unpleasant and traumatic experiences by “getting on with it”, and many people never really learn how to cope with powerful emotions such as anger or fear. People tend to seek counselling when they want something in their life to change – when they’re depressed, perhaps, or stressed, or when their relationships aren’t going well – and all change is difficult. For some it may be too difficult to change, or their circumstances may not allow them to do so