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Choosing 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 questions:

  • Are you having problems coping with a crisis (e.g. bereavement, illness, relationship break-up etc.)?
  • 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 physiological symptoms?
  • 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 good release)?

If the answer is a big YES to any of these questions then counselling may be a good option for you.

Having 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.

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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 approaches.

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:

British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy

The UK Council for Psychotherapy

The following counselling books were referenced for this section:

Person-centred Counselling in Action by Dave Mearns and Brian Thorne

Psychodynamic Counselling in Action by Michael Jacobs

Cognitive-behavioural Counselling in Action by Peter Trower, Andrew Casey, and Windy Dryden

Gestalt Counselling in Action by Petruska Clarkson

Transactional Analysis Counselling in Action by Ian Stewart

Integrative Counselling Skills in Action by Sue Culley

Transcultural Counselling in Action by Patricia D'Ardenne and Aruna Mahtani

See our full range of Holistic Therapy books in the Further Exploration section.

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