- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
- Psychodynamic Psychotherapy
- Humanistic / Person-centred Therapy
The relationship between you and your counsellor is one of the most important factors in the effectiveness of counselling. As someone who is trained to listen patiently to your problems, your counsellor can help you develop an understanding of yourself and others, and provide you with the support to work on the problems you face, facilitating positive change. It is a way of reducing confusion and enabling choice; it is not about forcing you to take a particular course of action. As such, you must be able to build a relationship based on trust with your counsellor and feel able to confide in them your feelings and emotions.
Generally there are two types of therapists who can offer counselling services:
Counsellor (Counselor - US spelling): A counsellor has specific training in counselling theory and skills as well as clinical experience of face-to-face counselling. Counsellors typically conduct short and medium-term work.
Counselling Psychologist: A counselling psychologist has similar training to a counsellor or psychotherapist, but additionally will hold a degree in Psychology giving them more scientific knowledge of the human mind and behaviour. The term 'counselling psychologist' is a legally-protected term in the UK, and in order to practice as such, the therapist needs to be registered with HCPC (Health and Care Professions Council).
What does Counselling look like in practice?
There are different types of counselling, which are available in a range of formats including:
Individual counselling (face-to-face)
Email / internet / online counselling
You may be offered counselling as a single session or as a short-term course of sessions over a period of weeks or months. There is no typical therapy session, or a standard way of workng. However, some therapists (particularly CBT) set an agenda for each session and will review progress with you at regular intervals, so that you can identify and acknowledge your progress. At the first meeting, your counsellor may explain factors like the length of the session (50 minutes), the reasons for the need to commit to weekly sessions (it provides you and the therapist with a contained space in which to work consistently) and the cancellation policy. During the session, you are likely to be encouraged to express your emotions and feelings to explore the problem you are facing. Some therapists may also set you work to do or things to think about outside of therapy, so that progress is continuing after the counselling session is finished.
Counselling is a very personal process and it is important to acknowledge that there will be times during your therapy where it is necessary to talk about painful feelings and difficult decisions. However, whatever you say in the counselling session is confidential (subject to legal and ethical exceptions, and the fact that a therapist will be in supervision) and counsellors will offer guidance and support to help you through this process.
What issues are suited to Counselling?
Counselling can help you deal with a range of issues, from day-to-day worries to more long-term psychological problems. It can help you come to terms with distressing or traumatic events, such as the loss of a loved one or a divorce and can also help you manage stressful employment. It can also be an effective way of dealing with more long-term mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety.
For example, counselling may be helpful in treating, depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bereavement, addiction problems, relationship problems, stress and work-related Issues, and low confidence.