Counselling is a range of therapies in which a therapist helps a client (or clients) to explore and understand their emotions and mental state. The therapist does not provide advice, although they make work in a directive manner, but rather they aid the client in being empowered to make their own decisions.
Within the therapy, a ‘therapeutic alliance’ or ‘therapeutic relationship’ will be formed with appropriate boundaries being set. This is because a therapeutic relationship differs from a personal one. Whilst is is deeply personal on one hand, due to the nature of what it being discussed, it is also highly professional and confidential. This is to provide the safe space required for the client to explore painful feelings and to experience therapeutic growth in a safe environment.
What Can Counselling Help With?
Counselling can help with a wide range of issues, such as;
- Feelings of anxiety.
- Low Mood/Depression.
- Coming to terms with physical health conditions.
- Redundancy/Loss of Job.
- and many others.
How to Find a Counsellor
If you are here, chances are you are seeking support for either yourself or a loved one. Due to the varied nature of counselling practice, and how personal the therapeutic relationship can become, it is important to find a counsellor who you can build a rapport with. This may involve looking through the About Me page on their website, getting a feel of their style of working, and seeing what areas of expertise they focus on – as certain therapists will have extra training in niche areas.
Whilst it is important to understand the counsellor as a person, it is also necessary to explore their credentials. In the United Kingdom, ‘counsellor’ is not a protected title. This means that there is no minimum training requirement to set up business as a counsellor. Unfortunately this means there can be counsellors in practice with no specific training in the field. Although they may have extensive knowledge and experience, they will not have undertaken a supervised placement within an organisation in order to ensure good practices are followed. This is something to be aware of when looking around. For this reason, there are a number of counselling membership organisations that have formed over the years. Whilst voluntary, these groups require their members to have received a certain level of training to join. Members must also adhere to the code of ethics of any organisation they are part of. Should they breach this code, complaints can be made to the organisation and an investigation would be undertaken to assess whether the counsellor is working ethically. If found not to be, then various steps may be taken to correct this.
The most well known counselling membership body is the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy. This is seen by many employers to represent the gold standard of counselling practice due to their extensive history and large membership. Additionally, their register is also governed by the Professional Standards Authority who oversee ‘accredited registers’. The BACP are not the only organisation governed in this way, the National Counselling Society also adhere to the PSA standards. This means they have stringent membership requirements, and a robust complaints procedure for handling cases of malpractice. If you would like reassurance of your counsellor’s credentials, feel free to ask if they are a member of any counselling organisation and they should be happy to tell you.
The best way, however, to see whether the counsellor is right for you would be to Contact them and have a discussion. This way you can explain what your needs are, and arrange a session should you wish to go ahead with counselling. A good counsellor will also understand that you may feel that things are not working down the line, and they can signpost you to colleagues in the local area whom you may also try.
It is also important to know that the counsellor themselves will have an understanding of the relationship, and may feel themselves that the therapy would be best delivered by someone else. This can be due to issues arising beyond their competencies or knowledge, or due to their own personal responses to the relationship. Again, a good therapist will work ethically and guide you through the referral process to another counsellor.