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Ultimate guide to counselling

Updated: Oct 6, 2023

Welcome to the ultimate guide to counselling, where we dive deep into the world of therapy and uncover all its wonders. Whether you're seeking guidance for personal growth, working through relationship challenges, or dealing with mental health issues, counselling can be a transformative experience. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore what counselling is all about, the various types of counselling available, how to find the right counsellor for you, what to expect during your sessions, and how to make the most out of each session. So buckle up and get ready for an enlightening journey towards self-discovery and healing!

What is counselling?

What is counselling, you ask? Well, think of it as a safe and confidential space where you can freely express your thoughts, emotions, and concerns. It's like having a trusted companion by your side who listens to you without judgement and offers guidance to help you navigate life's challenges. Counselling involves working with a trained professional called a counsellor or therapist. These professionals are equipped with the knowledge and skills to support individuals in exploring their feelings, thoughts, and behaviours. They provide an empathetic ear while helping clients gain insights into themselves and develop coping strategies. One important thing to note is that counselling isn't just for people facing major crises or mental health issues. It can benefit anyone seeking personal growth or wanting to enhance their overall well-being. From managing stress and anxiety to improving relationships or dealing with grief, counselling covers a wide range of concerns. The beauty of counselling lies in its individualised approach. Each session is tailored to meet the unique needs of the client. The counsellor may employ various therapeutic techniques such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy, mindfulness-based approaches, or solution-focused brief therapy. So whether you're struggling with low self-esteem, going through a difficult life transition, or simply feeling overwhelmed by everyday challenges - counselling provides an opportunity for self-reflection and growth. It's about empowering yourself to find clarity, resilience, and inner strength amidst the ups and downs of life's journey.

The different types of counselling

Counselling is a versatile and dynamic field, offering various types of approaches to meet the unique needs of individuals seeking support. Here are some different types of counselling you may come across: 1. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This type of counselling focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns and behaviours that contribute to emotional distress. It helps individuals develop healthier coping strategies. 2. Psychodynamic Therapy: Rooted in Freudian psychology, this approach explores unconscious thoughts and unresolved childhood experiences that may be influencing current emotions and behaviours. 3. Person-Centred Counselling: Also known as Rogerian therapy, this humanistic approach emphasises empathy, unconditional positive regard, and active listening to create a safe space for self-exploration. 4. Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT): This short-term counselling method concentrates on finding solutions rather than dwelling on problems. It empowers individuals by highlighting their strengths and resources. 5. Family Systems Therapy: This form of counselling examines the dynamics within family systems to address issues such as communication breakdowns or conflicts among family members. Remember that these are just a few examples out of many types of counselling available today! Each approach has its own benefits, so it's important to find one that aligns with your personal preferences and goals for therapy.

How to find a counsellor

Finding the right counsellor for your needs can be a crucial step in your journey towards emotional well-being. Here are some tips to help you find a counsellor who is the perfect fit for you. 1. Research and ask for recommendations: Start by researching different counselling services or professionals in your area. Ask trusted friends, family members, or even your primary care physician for recommendations. 2. Consider their specialisation: Counsellors often specialise in specific areas such as anxiety, depression, trauma, relationships, or addiction. Think about what issues you want to address and look for a counsellor who has experience in that particular area. 3. Check credentials and certifications: Ensure that the potential counsellor is licensed and has appropriate qualifications from recognized professional organisations. This will give you confidence in their expertise and ethical standards. 4. Assess their approach: Different therapists have different therapeutic approaches such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy, or mindfulness-based therapy. Look into these approaches and see which one resonates with you. 5. Trust your intuition: It's important to feel comfortable with your chosen therapist since building trust is essential during counselling sessions. If you don't feel a connection after a few sessions, it might be worth exploring other options. 6. Inquire about availability and logistics: Find out if they offer flexible appointment times that work with your schedule; consider factors like location, fees/costs covered by insurance plans if applicable etc. This is especially important if you are looking for something specific such as business or workplace counselling. Remember that finding the right counsellor may take time but it's worth investing effort into this process as having an empathetic guide on your journey towards healing can make all the difference!

What to expect from counselling

When you decide to seek counselling, it's natural to have some uncertainty about what lies ahead. Here is an overview of what you can expect from the counselling process. First and foremost, counselling provides a safe and confidential space for you to express your thoughts and feelings without judgement. Your counsellor will listen attentively and provide support as you navigate through your challenges. During your initial sessions, your counsellor will likely ask questions about your background, goals, and any specific issues or concerns that brought you to therapy. This information helps them gain a better understanding of your situation so they can tailor their approach accordingly. Counselling sessions typically last around 50 minutes, although this may vary depending on the therapist and the modality being used. The frequency of sessions also varies based on individual needs but is usually once a week or bi-weekly. In each session, be prepared for open dialogue where both you and the counsellor actively participate in exploring your emotions, behaviours, beliefs, and patterns. Together with the therapist's guidance, you'll work towards gaining insights into yourself and developing coping strategies or solutions for managing difficulties effectively. Remember that progress takes time; counselling is not a quick fix solution. It requires commitment from both sides - yours as well as the therapist's - in order for meaningful change to occur. Be patient with yourself throughout this journey of self-discovery. Every person's experience in counselling will be unique because everyone brings their own set of circumstances and goals to therapy. However, by having realistic expectations—knowing that therapy involves active participation—and maintaining an open mind, you can make significant strides towards personal growth and emotional well-being.

If a close friend or family member is going through this process, then take a look at our article: Supporting a loved one with a mental health condition.

How to make the most of counselling

When it comes to counselling, making the most of your sessions is crucial for achieving positive results. Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your counselling experience. Be open and honest with your counsellor. They are there to provide support and guidance, but they can only do so effectively if you are willing to share your thoughts and feelings openly. Remember that confidentiality is a key aspect of the therapeutic relationship, so feel free to express yourself without fear of judgement or consequences. Set clear goals for what you want to achieve through counselling. Whether it's managing anxiety, improving relationships, or working through past traumas, having specific objectives can help guide the direction of your sessions. Communicate these goals with your counsellor so that they can tailor their approach accordingly.

See also our article on Coping with Anxiety and Stress to get some ideas on how to manage this. Additionally, take an active role in the process by actively participating in discussions and exercises suggested by your counsellor. This includes completing any homework or reflection activities outside of session time. Counselling is not a passive activity - it requires effort and engagement from both you and your therapist. Furthermore, don't hesitate to ask questions or seek clarification when something isn't clear during a session. Understanding the strategies being used or why certain techniques are being employed can enhance your understanding and overall progress. Be patient with yourself throughout the journey. Personal growth takes time and progress may not always be linear. It's important to acknowledge small victories along the way while also recognizing that setbacks may occur as part of the process. By following these suggestions and staying committed to therapy, you can optimise outcomes from counselling sessions and facilitate long-lasting personal growth.


Counselling can be a valuable tool for personal growth, self-exploration, and healing. Whether you are dealing with a specific issue or simply looking to enhance your overall well-being, finding the right counsellor is key.

Remember, there are many different types of counselling available, so take the time to research and find one that aligns with your needs and goals. Don't be afraid to ask questions during your initial consultation to ensure a good fit.

Once you start counselling, keep an open mind and be willing to explore uncomfortable emotions or thoughts. Remember that it's okay to feel vulnerable – this is where true growth happens. Be patient with yourself and trust the process.

Additionally, don't hesitate to communicate openly with your counsellor about any concerns or questions you may have along the way. A strong therapeutic relationship built on trust and mutual respect is essential for successful outcomes.

Remember that counselling is not a quick fix but rather a journey towards self-discovery and self-improvement. It takes time and effort but can ultimately lead to positive transformation in various aspects of your life.

So if you're ready for change or seeking guidance through challenging times, consider giving counselling a try. Reach out to us at Orchard Counselling and take that first step towards greater emotional well-being today! We offer in person and online affordable counselling,at a price you can afford, in the Oxfordshire, Wiltshire & Berkshire area.

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