What is counseling?

Being self-aware and having the capability to think and feel emotions with clarity and understanding is part and parcel of being human. Unlike animals, our thought processes rely on far more than instinct alone.

Because of this, there is scope for the way we think to become a problem and to affect our emotions. If we go back a few hundred years we can see that psychological issues were approached with fear and unnecessarily invasive treatments. Thanks to the evolution of science and technology we now have a clearer understanding of the human brain and are able to look at these issues in a different way.

Today, the art of talking therapies such as counseling are used to help people come to terms with any problems they are facing, with an ultimate aim of overcoming them.

Counseling falls under the umbrella term ‘talking therapies’ and allows people to discuss their problems and any difficult feelings they encounter in a safe, confidential environment. The term can mean different things to different people, but in general it is a process people seek when they want to change something in their lives or simply explore their thoughts and feelings in more depth.

A counsellor is not there to sit you down and tell you what to do – instead they will encourage you to talk about what’s bothering you in order to uncover any root causes and identify your specific ways of thinking. The counsellor may then look to create a plan of action to either help you reconcile your issues or help you to find ways of coping.

Counseling does not come in a cookie-cutter format and each session is generally tailored to the individual. There is flexibility within this type of therapy that allows for a variety of counseling formats, including:

  • Face-to-face
  • Individual or group
  • Telephone counseling
  • Online counseling

What can counseling help with?

Counselling can be useful for anyone who wants to explore the way they’re thinking or feeling further, as well as anyone experiencing a problem or issue they are keen to resolve. People may choose to speak to a counsellor because they feel they cannot speak to their other half/friends/family about such personal issues, or they may simply wish to speak to a professional with an objective viewpoint.

Common subjects that can be addressed within counseling include the following:

Addictions

Wherever there is a physical addiction to a substance or activity – there is likely to be a psychological addiction too. Counseling aims to relieve the psychological addiction by exploring the root cause while helping to develop new ways of thinking.

Bereavement

Losing a loved one is a difficult event in anyone’s life. The loss can bring up a wide range of emotions including guilt and anger. Some people benefit from speaking openly to a counselor about their feelings to help ease the process and resolve any remaining issues they may have.

Bullying

Being the victim of any form of abuse, whether it’s verbal or physical can lead to issues that may affect you all of your life. Counseling can offer victims the chance to seek help from authorities (if appropriate) as well as addressing the psychological repercussions in a safe environment.

Illness

Suffering from a long-term illness such as cancer or dementia can turn anyone’s world upside down. Counselling can help sufferers come to terms with their illness while offering emotional support and coping mechanisms.

Mental health issues

Suffering from a mental health issue such as schizophrenia or depression can feel incredibly isolating. Counselling looks to discuss the feelings that arise in conjunction with these kinds of mental health issues as well as overcome any personal challenges or frustrations.

Relationships

Covering all types of relationships, counseling can be used to discuss issues within families, friendships and couples. Problems could involve anything from a poor relationship with a parent through to an abusive relationship.

Trauma

Whether you’ve been involved in an accident or you have been the victim of abuse, the psychological impact of trauma can last years after the event itself. In a counselling session trauma victims are encouraged to explore their feelings regarding the incident and look into how these could be resolved or changed.

Other

Feelings of stress, anxiety and low self-esteem are becoming all too common in today’s society. Counselling can offer practical advice for overcoming these kinds of issues as well as allowing you the space to vent your frustrations and feelings.

For more detail on what counseling can help with, please see our What’s worrying you? page.

How can counselling help?

The way counselling can help will depend on the person receiving the treatment. For many, the fact that counselling offers a safe and confidential environment to speak in is all it takes. In life, what we say to others can sometimes have a knock-on effect, altering relationships and the way people see each other. Counselling eliminates this problem and offers you the space and freedom to explore your own thoughts with an unbiased party.

While counsellors may not give you concrete advice or a checklist of things to do to feel better, what they will do is help you uncover your own insight and understanding of your problems providing you with the tools which will help you to resolve them on your own.

In the majority of cases, a single session will not be enough to help overcome any issues you’re facing. Counselling is a journey, and it takes time and consistency to work effectively. Because of this, many people opt for regular counselling sessions to make the most of the process.

Counseling can help you understand yourself better and the way you think, which will ultimately help you develop a clearer understanding of your problems. The more armed with information you are, the easier it gradually becomes to navigate your way through any difficulties you are facing so that eventually you can come out the other side feeling more positive. Counseling can also help you understand other people’s point of view better, which can shed light onto the way you interpret words or actions.

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