Extracts taken from BACP


These are services designed to help people who wish to make changes in their lives by offering 'talking treatment'. However, specific advice is not given.

How could a counsellor help me?
You should expect one or a series of confidential, professional appointments of up to an hour in length in a suitable private setting.

What are the key elements of this process?

  • Service provided when you wish to make changes in your life

  • An opportunity to make sense of your individual circumstances

  • Contact with a counsellor who helps identify the choices for change

  • Support for the individual during their process of change

  • The end result leaving you better equipped to cope for the future

How do counsellors work?
They usually work face-to-face employing a range of techniques to suit your circumstances. However, with the advent of the Internet some counsellors may use a mixture of telephone, email and video conferencing.

Why are there different approaches?
Different therapies have different styles. For instance, in cognitive behavioural and sex therapy there will be 'homework' to do. In bereavement therapy, there would be a lot of emphasis on supporting you through some difficult emotions. A psychodynamic counsellor would look at your past while another type of counsellor might focus solely on your life in the present-day. Some therapies concentrate on the future.

How do they work?
Many approaches regard your developing relationship with the counsellor as a kind of model which may reveal the patterns of behaviour that cause you problems. Others look at your family relationships and who wielded the power in your house when you were growing up. Others focus on your thinking style and changes in behaviour. There are big distinctions between therapy where you do most of the talking and those which involve much more of a dialogue. But don't worry, whichever approach is adopted you should be able to make the changes you are looking for. The first appointment, sometimes called an assessment session, is an opportunity to explore issues that could affect the relationship between you and the counsellor as well as your personal needs for counselling

Will I get hooked on therapy?
The goal of any talking treatment is your increased self-awareness, skill acquisition and independence. During therapy, you may develop some feelings of reliance upon the counsellor. Although a normal reaction it can, at times, feel worrying. But a professional counsellor knows exactly how to handle these feelings and is genuinely interested in helping you make progress.

Is there a counsellor for my situation?
Counsellors practise in all walks of life and all parts of society - from a clinic to the boardrooms of top companies. We are trained in situations as diverse as: coping with anxiety and bereavement, relationship difficulties, educational dilemmas, sexual and racial issues, personal problem-solving as well as helping victims of child abuse and trauma.

What should I ask when I contact a counsellor for the first time?
Ask about the time, place, cost and duration of meetings plus any charges for cancelled appointments and holidays. You may also wish to enquire about the counsellor professional membership, experience and training. During this time you will build up an idea of what is involved and you will be able to make up your mind if this is a person you can work with. It is important to be clear about what you want and what the counsellor is able to offer.

Is counselling confidential?
Everything you discuss is confidential between you and the counsellor. There can be certain legal exceptions and the practitioner should clarify this with you prior to the establishment of any agreed contract for working.

What is supervision?
All counsellors need to be in supervision which is a form of consultative support and must therefore discuss their work with at least one other person. But a supervisor is also bound by rules of confidentiality so in practice there is no likelihood of any breach of trust.

What if I am not happy with the counsellor when we meet?
During the assessment or first session be prepared to trust your instinct because your relationship with the counsellor is at the heart of the work. If you are unsure about the practitioner seek another one. Having confidence in your practitioner is very important and will enable you to get the best out of the time you spend together. Always remember it is you who are the customer.

What about counselling online?
There are a number of counsellors now offering an online service. Before entering into any contractual arrangement you should satisfy yourself that the counsellor is qualified to provide the service.  Although in some situations there are benefits to counselling through the Internet, confidentiality is a key concern. For example, you may wish to ask if your notes are protected by passwords and encrypted?  What happens when there are technical problems or the counsellor is away? Remember that online discussions must pass through an Internet Service Provider (ISP) where security may not be a high priority.

How can I get counselling for a member of my family or a friend?
You cannot. A person cannot be 'sent' for counselling. They must wish to use the service and make the approach themselves. By all means, find out the names of counsellors on their behalf but please encourage a direct approach by the person who needs the help.

What is the 'contract'?
Click here for a sample of the sort of contract you and the counsellor might agree on.

What is the difference between a 'trained' and a 'qualified' counsellor?
Normally, a trained counsellor is one who has completed the one-year Certificate Of Counselling training course. A qualified counsellor is one who has completed both the one-year Certificate and the two-year long Diploma In Counselling or Diploma in Professional Counselling or other professional diploma in a particular counselling field.



Counselling In France DISCLAIMER  Extracts taken from BACP