to receive counselling can be a very liberating
experience and an excellent way of helping
yourself. In a society where there is still
a stigma attached to going to see a counsellor
or psychotherapist, albeit gradually reducing,
deciding to go down the path of helping
yourself in this way is a courageous step
but often one well worth it. A good question
to ask of yourself is ‘Would counselling
benefit me?’. One way of establishing that
is to ask yourself a few further pertinent
- Are you having problems coping with
a crisis (e.g. bereavement, illness, relationship
- Do you feel there is something missing
in your life, that it has no meaning or
perhaps is lacking in direction?
- Do you feel isolated or alienated?
- Do you feel stuck?
- Do you feel down or angry a lot of
the time, or have extreme mood swings?
- Do you suffer from panic attacks or
feel very anxious much of the time?
- Are you suffering from unexplained
- Do you have problems concentrating
for any length of time?
- Are you crying a lot more than usual
(bearing in mind that some crying is a
If the answer is a big YES
to any of these questions then counselling
may be a good option for you.
decided this is a route you want to explore
the next challenge is to find the right
counsellor. One of the most important things
during counselling is the relationship you
have with your counsellor. They must be
non-judgemental, empathetic, and genuine
in order to ensure you feel safe and able
to explore your issues. Of course they may
be all of those things, but still have a
personality that you simply don’t gel with,
so it is crucial that you shop around a
bit to ensure that you get the most out
of your investment in counselling.
Another factor to consider is the approach
a counsellor uses, which they should explain
to you during the first session.
This can be confusing as there
are many different approaches, so really what
you’re looking for is not someone who baffles
you with science but someone with whom you feel
you can progress safely and naturally regardless
of what approach they use. Still, if you’re interested
in learning about the different approaches the
‘Counselling in action’ series of books (see below)
give excellent concise explanations of various
Finally, remember it is crucial that you select
a qualified counsellor, and as with a lot of things
a recommendation inspires confidence, whether
from your GP or a friend.
The following counselling
websites are useful for searching for
a counsellor in your area:
Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy
The UK Council for Psychotherapy
The following counselling
books were referenced for this section
and are all available (via the links) in association
Person-centred Counselling in Action by Dave Mearns
and Brian Thorne
Counselling in Action by Michael Jacobs
Counselling in Action by Peter Trower, Andrew
Casey, and Windy Dryden
Gestalt Counselling in Action by Petruska Clarkson
Transactional Analysis Counselling in Action by
Integrative Counselling Skills in Action by Sue
Transcultural Counselling in Action by Patricia
D'Ardenne and Aruna Mahtani
See our full range of Holistic
Therapy books in the Further Exploration