What is Counselling?

What is counselling - Two counsellors sitting together

Starting counselling can be daunting. People often wonder what it’s all about, what will happen, and even what is counselling, anyway? This page aims to answer some of those questions, and to give an idea of what counselling might look like for you.

What is counselling?

Counselling happens when a counsellor and a client meet together in a private and confidential space to explore together some aspect of the client’s life. The client might be an individual, a couple or some other group (for example, siblings or neighbours). What is crucial is that they are taking part in counselling because they want to. It really doesn’t work to ‘send’ someone for counselling. If they are not taking part of their own free will, therapy is unlikely to be very useful.

Most often, we would meet face-to-face, but it’s possible to offer counselling via the internet or over the telephone, too. It all depends on what best suits you, and that can vary over time. Occasionally, we have worked with couples where one person is in the room while the other takes part online. The most important thing is that however we meet, we can preserve a confidential space where we cannot be overheard.

As counsellors, we do not give advice or direct any course of action. We may, however, suggest referral to a more appropriate professional in some circumstances. For example, if you were having chest pains when feeling anxious, we would recommend checking things out with your GP to rule out any underlying heart condition. We would never shame, judge or exploit you. Rather, we would seek to help you consider and explore your situation, and all the options available to you. Then, you can decide for yourself your best way forward.

Counselling offers a relationship in which the client feels accepted, respected and valued. Together we would work to build a genuine relationship in which trust can flourish. This trusting relationship enables you, the client, to look deeper into areas of your life, relationships and yourself; possibly including things you have been afraid or ashamed to address before. When we bottle up feelings such as anger, shame, anxiety and grief, they can become very intense and dominate our lives. Talking freely and openly about them allows you to explore, understand and manage your feelings, reducing the level of distress.

Counselling modalities

There are many approaches to counselling (also called counselling modalities) in use in the UK today. These include:

And many more. With so many approaches, it can seem very confusing. However, there is powerful evidence that the most crucial factor in effective therapy is the relationship between counsellor and client. All our staff and associate counsellors are fully trained and highly experienced. They will make best endeavours to support you with whatever issues you might bring. However, if you are looking for a particular counselling approach, please contact us so we can match you to the right therapist.

So, what happens in a session?

When we meet, we can discuss any aspect of your life including any difficulties, distress, dissatisfaction or uncertainty you might be experiencing. We would look to offer a space in which you can talk freely and openly about your thoughts and feelings, in a way that’s rarely possible with friends and family. However, what we talk about would be totally up to you. We would not ask you to divulge anything you did not feel ready to discuss.

As you speak, we listen to you patiently and attentively, trying to perceive and understand things from your point of view. Gaining understanding, without judgement or criticism, and reflecting that understanding, can help you see things more clearly; possibly from a fresh perspective. Often, exploring whatever is concerning you in a safe, reflective and non-judgmental space can help you understand, address and resolve whatever difficulties you might be experiencing.

Sometimes we might offer some specific interventions that have been helpful with other people in similar situations. Still, you would always have the option as to whether or not you wanted to work in any particular way. Besides talking therapies, we might offer other forms of therapy. Examples might include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), emotional freedom techniques (EFT, sometimes known as tapping), or eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR), and mindfulness. We could also consider more creative ways of working, using drawing, painting, clay or other media. Whatever we offer, you would always be in control of the process.

We would continue to meet for as long or short a time as was appropriate. Most of the time, we offer open-ended counselling, which means you can attend as many sessions as you want. Sometimes it’s more appropriate to agree on a specific number of sessions at the outset. Generally, we would look to meet once each week, although some clients may prefer to meet more or less frequently. However long we meet for, and how often we meet, we always seek to offer the best service, and you always remain in charge of the sessions.

Where do I do from here?

If you have any further questions about the counselling process, if you would like to make an appointment please call us on 0151 329 3637, or email enquiries@counselling-matters.org.uk. We look forward to hearing from you.