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Counselling - Questions Answered

What is counselling?

Counselling (or counseling) is a term which has become very familiar through the media, usually mentioned in the aftermath of disasters ("…the survivors have been offered counselling…"). Although it has been portrayed as a panacea for all emotional distress, the reality is somewhat different.

Counselling at its best is a personal encounter between two people, the client and the counsellor. This is achieved mainly through talking, although other techniques such as drawing and working with objects can be used. It is based on confidentiality (allowing the client to talk freely and in confidence), boundaries (providing the element of safety), empathy (enabling the client to feel understood), acceptance and honesty. When these conditions are met, counsellors believe that the innate potential of the individual can operate, allowing them to heal themselves and discover their own creative solutions to their problems. Counselling is therefore not something that is done to the client by the counsellor, but a process of facilitating the client to help themselves.

What does counselling involve?

Counselling sessions normally take place once a week and last an hour. At the first meeting the counsellor will ask you about the problems or issues you would like to work on, and the results you would like to get from counselling. He or she will also answer any queries you may have.

During subsequent sessions you can bring any issue you want to talk about, and together we will explore it in different ways, sometimes using imagery or dreams, sometimes by exploring feelings, often simply talking.

Is it only about painful issues?

Counselling is not just about dealing with unpleasant symptoms. It can equally be used to bring about personal growth, developing or strengthening parts of the personality, and achieving a better quality of life. It can help you to clarify what you want to do with your life, and to help you in dealing with any obstacles that prevent you achieving this.

How long does it take?

This is not an easy question to answer, as it depends on the nature of the problem, the type of change you are looking to achieve, and your own readiness to make the necessary steps.

As a guide, clients find that a certain amount of emotional relief can be obtained by talking through a problem in one or two sessions, a single issue problem that has arisen fairly recently may be resolved in five or ten sessions, whereas a problem which is complex or has persisted for years may take many months to resolve.

How much does it cost?

Each practitioner working at the Hope Street Centre sets their own fee scales. As a guide, counselling sessions typically cost £35-50 per hour. Some counsellors offer reductions if a block of sessions is paid for in advance.

How do I access the service?

There is no need for a doctor's referral - you can make an appointment directly with the counsellor, who will usually be able to see you within a week.

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