Frequency Asked Questions

What can counselling help with?
Addictions,   Anger Management,   Anxiety,   Bereavement Compulsive thoughts and behaviour, Depression, Embarrassment, Family Issues, Fear, Grief, Identity issues, Life coaching, Loneliness, Loss (perhaps through bereavement, divorce or redundancy),

Low self-esteem, Trauma, Relationship difficulties, Seasonal affective disorder, Separation and divorce, Sex addiction, Sex problems, Sexual abuse, Sexuality, Stress, Suicidal thoughts, Trauma, Work related stress and many more.

What does the consultant/counsellor do?
Majority of the counselling work allows the client space and time to process their thoughts, therefore counsellors have good listening and reasoning skills. The counsellor will help you recognise where you are with dealing with the defined problem areas and assist you working together on the steps to successfully move forward in life.

What kinds of problems can I talk to my consultant/counsellor about?
There are no hard and fast rules. If something is troubling you, it can be worth spending some time thinking about why this may be happening. There are, however, a number of issues that frequently come up, for example:

Relationship difficulties: family and friends, colleagues, commitment, jealousy, abuse, family issues: partners, children, parenting, separation and divorce, homesickness, lack of confidence: worried about failing, never being good enough, feeling judged, depression: feeling isolated, lonely, empty, tearful, unloved, suicidal, repeated destructive behaviour: binge eating, harming oneself, abusive relationships, alcohol, drugs, exam and study stress: lack of control, panic attacks, feelings of inadequacy, bereavement: loss, anger, loneliness, sadness, depression

What do I say?
It doesn’t really matter how you present your problem. You can say whatever you like. Sometimes there is silence; sometimes you might find yourself saying things you had not expected to say. The counsellor will help you explore the matter and will keep referring to you to clarify his/her understanding.

The sessions are long enough for you to return to the different areas until you are happy that you have expressed what you are really feeling.

Will the consultant/counsellor give me advice?
Consultant/Counsellor will never provide direct advice such as; “I would leave university if I was you.”  The purpose of this support is to help you make your own decision. They will never make a moral decision about the course of action you ought to take. They may sum up what they understand you have been saying so far in order to help you move on and form a plan of action. They can offer pointers to how others have successfully dealt with common problems and may also make suggestions such as, “Have you thought of the following…”

These suggestions will be drawn from their training in what is helpful and their experience of what has helped others in the past, and of course can be rejected if you feel they are unhelpful.

Do I have to pay?
Yes, the initial appointment is chargeable depending on location; in this appointment I will ask you what has brought you for counselling at this time, what it is that you would like to work on, and for a bit of background information. At the end of this time we will decide whether we are happy to work together, and if so, schedule ongoing appointments.

Sessions normally last 50 minutes, however the initial session can be up to 90 minutes long.

What will the consultant/counsellor think of me – will they think badly of me for getting into a mess?
No. The support is based in the belief that most people naturally strive to make the best use of themselves.

When something goes wrong it is usually because we are pushing ourselves too hard, because we are in a muddle for reasons we do not fully understand or because we are actually suffering from some form of mental distress which is distorting our view of reality. Judging clients is therefore neither helpful nor relevant; you need to be supported in finding your own way out of the problem.

How can it be right to be in need of help?
Many of our problems arise just because we are human. We all make mistakes and have to learn from them, and it is normal to have several goes before we get something right. Needing help is a normal part of this process. You could only label it as failure if you had already decided you must succeed entirely on your own, which is not a burden you have to impose on yourself. If you think you have failed, the counsellor might help you see that this is not the case at all.

Does asking for counselling/support mean admitting failure?
Paradoxically, it can be seen as an indication of strength to ask for counselling. Many people think that they are being strong in not seeking help whereas in fact those who can admit to their difficulties could be considered the strong ones. Asking for counselling often means you have taken the first difficult step on the road to resolving the problem.

What if I still feel ashamed of my problems?
Consultant/Counsellor do accept that it is natural to want to appear successful and that most of us feel some shame when we have problems and so do not want to advertise our difficulties. This is one of the reasons we place a great emphasis on confidentiality.

How confidential is counselling and support?
Consultant/Counsellor work to a strict Code of Ethics which means they must inform you of the limits of confidentiality and then stick to these rules.

What are the limits of confidentiality?
This varies from service to service but normally everything you say is kept confidential to the counselling service unless there is clear evidence someone may be at a severe risk.

Should I be worried about the limits of confidentiality?
Generally, clients of counselling and support services find the level of confidentiality more than adequate.

Often the worry about disclosure lessens when the client has had a chance to discuss the problem. When the counsellor speaks to others, it is usually because the client wishes them to know; disclosures made against the client’s wishes are extremely rare. However, if you are worried about the implications of any breach of confidentiality you may wish to speak to a counsellor in general terms first in order to see how their Code of Ethics may apply to your particular situation. You can also seek help through an anonymous telephone line. There are some links on other parts of this site, otherwise the Samaritans (08457 90 90 90) can be a very good starting point for a number of other helplines

Does it work for everybody?
No, but it seems to offer at least some help to the majority so it is definitely worth a try. Your counsellor will check out with you to see if talking is helpful – and if not, will help you look for something else.

Will the consultant/counsellor have experienced problems like mine?
Very possibly. Having problems is part of being human. Many consultant/counsellor come into their line of work because of their own experience of successfully resolving personal problems through therapy. Most will have had their own experience of being a client. Although the counsellor may not have experienced the particular problem which you feel you may have, they will all have had experience of being in distress and seeking counselling help from another.

Would I be better to try and sort it out for myself?
Of course there are ways you can help yourself apart from counselling – counselling is just one of the answers. Many problems can be sorted for yourself, however, it does not need to be an either/or situation.

Counselling support is a resource for when you need extra help.

What about talking to my friends?
Many of the reasons that make counselling effective also apply to talking with friends. A talk with a friend may be helpful and consultant/counsellor often encourages clients to use their social support network. However there are some drawbacks to using friends as your only confidants and support.

  • Friends might feel a conflict of loyalty and find it hard to keep things confidential
  • Friends might become upset themselves by what you are telling them
  • Friends might feel put out if you do not accept their advice
  • If you need lots of help, friends might begin to feel resentful and you might feel guilty.

Counsellors have had professional training in helping others. They also have formal support and a work structure which helps them deal with upsetting and difficult situations; friends may begin to feel overburdened, especially if they have their own problems too.

Finally, sometimes we need slightly more specialist help than friends can provide.

Some people have suggested I just have a stiff drink and pull myself together?
Sometimes a drink might seem to revive flagging spirits and help you relax but alcohol does not really help solve significant problems. It can even worsen the situation because of its tendency to cause depression and other problems if you drink too much.

Does seeing a consultant/counsellor mean I am ill?
No, seeing a counsellor does not mean you are ill. However, there are some symptoms of an illness – depression, anxiety etc. – which counselling can help relieve. Consultants/Counsellors will not treat you as a sick person, but rather as someone going through a bad time.

Is counselling like psychiatry?
Counselling bears little relation to psychiatry except that both deal with emotional and mental processes.

Psychiatrists are trained doctors who work largely through diagnosis of illness and then prescribe a treatment, usually involving medication. Counsellors are normally non-medical personnel who work by talking and encouraging you to find your own solutions.

Counsellors can, however, recognise the symptoms of severe mental distress and may suggest you consider medical help if this is appropriate.