Counselling gives an individual an opportunity to explore any feelings, concerns, difficulties, problems, which they may be experiencing in a safe and supportive environment.

People may go to counselling to help with a specific problem, to help them to get through a difficult time in their life, to help deal with past unresolved trauma, to learn positive, healthy coping skills, to gain greater confidence and self esteem, to raise personal awareness and give a greater understanding of their feelings, to help make decisions and resolve conflicts in their life.

Sometimes it can be difficult to talk to family and friends through fear of being judged, not believed, embarrassment, or because we don’t want to worry or upset those closest to us. It may also be that others don’t have the time to give to discuss feelings in depth or the experience or knowledge to know the best way to help or give support. It can help to talk to someone not known to you who can look at issues with you in an independent and non judgmental way.

Counselling can be a difficult process to go through if you are exploring painful issues. Do not be put off if you find that you are struggling with the counselling as it does take time to work through difficulties which may bring up a whole range of emotions. Try and persevere in order that you can come to peace with whatever feelings you have in order to leave the past behind and to be able to move on with your life a stronger person who is more able to cope with life in a more satisfying way.

If you find, however, that you feel unable to work with the counsellor for any reason then it is best to find another counsellor who you can work with, who you can trust and open up to.

At the first session the counsellor will go through issues like the length of sessions which is normally 50 minutes and frequency of sessions which is usually once a week. It should also be explained the maximum number of sessions available to you. Some counsellors offer short term counselling and others longer term counselling. Counsellors should review progress with you at regular intervals. Whatever you say in the counselling session is confidential and counsellors will give you details of the few exceptions to this.

Counsellors recognise that it can be an enormous step for someone to seek counselling and they will do all they can to ensure you feel as comfortable as possible and to put you at ease. It can be a terrific help having this weekly support and will give you the feeling that you are not on your own. A good counsellor can make such a difference to someone struggling with a particular issue or life in general and help a person to develop their own inner strength. Many people also find that discussing their feelings with a telephone helpline gives them the confidence and impetus to seek face to face counselling.

SupportLine keeps details of agencies which provide counselling and also private counsellors throughout the UK. It is important to ensure that the counsellor or agency is a member of a recognised body which will be governed by a code of ethics and have a recognised complaints procedure.

Counsellors work in a variety of ways and details of the different types of counselling can be found by logging onto www.psyweb.com and click on Treatments.

Useful Agencies

  • Association of Child & Adolescent Psychotherapists (ACP)
    020 7281 8479
    The main professional body for psychoanalytic child and adolescent psychotherapists in the UK.

  • Association of Christian Counsellors:
    0845 124 9569


  • Association of Therapeutic Communities:
    01242 620077
    Directory of therapeutic communities available online.

  • BMA Counselling Service:
    0330 123 1245

    Telephone counselling for BMA members.

  • British Association of Art Therapists (BAAT):
    020 7686 4216


  • British Association for Behavioural & Cognitive Psychotherapy (BABCP):
    0161 705 4304


  • British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy (BACP):
    Admin: 01455 883300

    The BACP 'It's Good to Talk' website is designed to educate and inform the public about the benefits of counselling and psychotherapy. It also aims to answer common questions about the therapeutic process. www.itsgoodtotalk.org.uk

  • British Psychoanalytic Council:
    020 7561 9240

    Maintains a register of member analytic psychotherapists.

  • British Psychological Society:
    0116 254 9568

    Professional organisation for chartered psychologist.  A directory covering the UK is available from their website.

  • British Society for Music Therapy (BSMT):
    020 7837 6100


  • College of Sexual & Relationship Therapies:
    020 85432707


  • Counselling Ltd:
    Maintains list of private counsellors throughout UK who offer free counselling to those on income support/guaranteed minimum income. To enquire about free counselling write to: Counselling, 5 Pear Tree Walk, Wakefield, West Yorkshire WF2 OHW with your name, home address, email, telephone number and National Insurance Number and the benefits you receive and you will be contacted.

  • Black & Asian Therapists Network
    Online directory of qualified therapists  experienced in working with the distinctive African, Caribbean and Asian experience.

  • Teacher Support Network:
    UK: 08000 562 561
    National information, support and counselling service for teachers.

  • WPF Therapy (Westminster Pastoral Foundation):
    020 7378 2000

    For details of centres across UK.

Useful websites

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