What is counselling?

Most people who contact a counsellor usually do so because they are facing difficulties or a crisis in their life that they feel unable to cope with.

A counsellor is an uninvolved person who will listen to you without judging you. They will not tell you what to do but rather work through possible options.

What are the issues that most people contact a counsellor for?

Whilst people are referred for counselling for a wide variety of individual reasons, these fall mainly into the following difficulties:-

  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Loss
  • Bereavement
  • Relationships
  • Issues from the past
  • Managing life’s transitions and change
  • Crisis situations
  • Addiction

What is the aim of counselling?

The aim of counselling is not necessarily to ‘solve’ difficult problems that you meet in in your life, but to provide an environment in which you can safely explore your difficulties. Often through this process people become aware of resources within themselves that lead to helpful change.

There are no guarantees that your difficulties will be overcome as some difficulties are unresolvable. You may sometimes feel a little worse before starting to feel better and it is important to consider your support systems. Counselling may possibly affect your relationships with others.

What happens at the first meeting?

You will have a chance to explain what brings you to counselling and what changes you hope for. Confidentiality and its limits will be discussed. You can ask any questions about counselling or express any doubts. At the first meeting, I will explain my role and limits of ability.

Towards the end of the first meeting you will be asked if you wish to go ahead with counselling. If you do- together, we will  negotiate a contract for counselling and agree how we will work together.

This will include us developing a shared understanding of:-

  • The number, length and frequency of appointments
  • How they are made or cancelled
  • How much is confidential
  • Any reasons/ circumstances in which confidentiality may not be able to be kept.
  • What you hope to get from counselling
  • Any risks
  • How the counselling will end.

What about confidentiality?

Most things you discuss in counselling will not be repeated to anyone else, but there are several exceptions to total confidentiality:-

  • when the client gives their consent for the counsellor to breach confidentiality.
  • when a court of law compels the counsellor to breach confidentiality.
  • where/ when there are good grounds for the counsellor to believe that serious harm may be done to the client or to others.

Brief, factual notes of the session may be made, but these are stored securely and according to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), 2018.

According to the BACP ‘Ethical Framework for the Counselling Professions’ (2018) and the BABCP ‘Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics’ (2017); I  must receive regular supervision of my  counselling work from an appropriately qualified and experienced person. I may discuss aspects of your counselling work in supervision but will take steps to ensure that you are not personally identifiable.

In certain circumstances, the confidentiality boundary may have to be breached.  This is for protection of both yourself and your counsellor. Normally, I will speak to you first if there is a need to breach confidentiality.