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Frequently Asked Questions

What is counselling?
What is the difference between counselling and psychotherapy?
How can counselling help?
What type of counselling should I choose?
How do I know which counsellor/psychotherapist is right for me?
How long will I need counselling for?
How often will I see my counsellor/psychotherapist?
How much does counselling cost?
What training, qualifications and experience should counsellors/psychotherapists have?
What does registration/accreditation with a professional body mean?
How can I find out more?


What is counselling?
Counselling offers you a chance to take a fresh look at your life at a time when you may be feeling unhappy, distressed or confused. It provides you with an opportunity to talk freely and openly about your thoughts, feelings and concerns in a way that is rarely possible in our daily life.
A counsellor or psychotherapist is a trained professional who is able to bring their listening skills, experience and therapeutic understanding to the counselling room. Yet counselling does not usually involve giving advice or solutions. Rather it helps you reflect more fully about yourself and your situation, so that you can see things more clearly, find new perspectives and decide what is important to you. Sometimes simply having a chance to talk and be listened to in a non-judgemental way can make an enormous difference in itself. At other times it may lead people to make significant changes in their lives.


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What is the difference between counselling and psychotherapy?
Different people use the words counselling and psychotherapy in different ways, so there is no commonly agreed definition. Some therapists may choose to call themselves counsellors, while others – even with identical qualifications – may call themselves psychotherapists. Broadly speaking, counselling focuses on helping you change and adjust to your current situation. It helps you by empowering you to respond differently to stressful circumstances and is usually of a limited duration. On the other hand, psychotherapy may be a longer process and requires the client to commit to working through deeper issues that prevent them from achieving a fulfilling life.

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How can counselling help?
A person may come to counselling for a variety of reasons. Below are some of the areas for which therapy can be helpful:

Abuse – Addictions – Anger – Anxiety/Panic – Bereavement and Loss – Coping with life changes – Depression – Eating disorder - Feeling of isolation – Loss of meaning – Low self-esteem – Relationship or family difficulties – Self-harm – Stress – Trauma.

Whatever your reason, a therapist will be able to help you explore how counselling or psychotherapy can be of use to you.


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What type of counselling should I choose?
There are many different types of counselling available and too many for us to list here. Research shows however that the approach chosen is generally secondary to the successful outcome of the counselling process. What is more important is the quality of the relationship formed between client and therapist. Thus the key to success in therapy is not so much about finding the right method of therapy as finding the right counsellor or psychotherapist for you.

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How do I know which counsellor/psychotherapist is right for me?
Before you start looking for a counsellor or psychotherapist you may wish to think about what kind of therapist you would like to work with. For instance, you may prefer a man or a woman, someone with the same background as you, someone your own age, younger or older, someone with specific experience, someone who lives nearby or further away, etc.
When choosing a therapist, you may also find it helpful to ask them some questions. Most counsellors/psychotherapists will be happy to provide additional information. Below are some questions you may wish to consider:

How many sessions will you be able to offer me?
What type of therapy do you offer?
How much will a session cost?
What happen if I miss a session?
Are the sessions confidential?
Do you take client notes and, if so, what happens to these?

While asking questions can help you choose a therapist, it is also important to remember that counselling is a very personal process and one which requires a trusting relationship between therapist and client in order to be effective. Relationships can take time to form, but your first session will help you decide whether you feel comfortable with this counsellor/psychotherapist and whether you would like to proceed.


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How long will I need counselling for?
Essentially, counselling will last for as long as you feel it is necessary and beneficial for you. For some people a few sessions are enough to make sense of how they feel and what they need. At other times when things feel more deeply rooted, more long-term support may be needed. How much you choose to explore and when to end therapy, however, will essentially be up to you.  

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How often will I see my counsellor/psychotherapist?
Appointments usually take place weekly or fortnightly and each session can last for fifty minutes or one hour depending on your therapist. Most people find that weekly appointments work best for them, but this can be negotiated with your counsellor or psychotherapist.

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How much does counselling cost?
The cost of a session with a private counsellor/psychotherapist will depend on whether you are looking for individual or couple counselling, and on therapists’ individual fees. Some therapists offer a flat fee, while others provide a sliding scale adjusting their fees to different levels of income, or offer concessions. In any case, counsellors/psychotherapists will usually be happy to discuss their fees prior to you arranging a first session.

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What training, qualifications and experience should counsellors/psychotherapists have?
There are currently no laws in the UK regarding counselling and psychotherapy. However the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) recommends that, in order to practice, counsellors/psychotherapists should have completed at least an appropriate diploma, or completed a minimum of 400 hours therapy training. It is also good practice for a therapist to be a member of a professional body. Choosing a therapist that is a member of a professional body means they hold an appropriate counselling or psychotherapy qualification and work to certain standards of good practice. For more information see ‘What does registration/accreditation with a professional body mean?' below

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What does registration/accreditation with a professional body mean?
Professional Bodies (e.g. BACP, UKCP, COSCA)
When choosing a counsellor/psychotherapist it can be reassuring to know that they work to certain standards of good practice as a professional. Being a member means a counsellor/psychotherapist has met certain requirements set by their member organisation and must abide by a code of ethics and complaints procedure.
eg. all members of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) are bound by the BACP Ethical Framework for Good Practice in Counselling and Psychotherapy, which sets the standards for good and ethical therapeutic practice.

Registered/Accredited Counsellors and Psychotherapists
Being registered/accredited with a professional body means an individual must have achieved a substantial level of training and experience approved by their member organisation. It means they have satisfied certain rules on training, practice and ethics to gain professional recognition, and demonstrated their capacity for independent, competent, ethical practice.

Counsellors and psychotherapists are also required to have ongoing supervision with an experienced supervisor.


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How can I find out more?
To help you find out more about counselling/psychotherapy and different types of therapy, you may wish to visit the following website:

www.itsgoodtotalk.org.uk


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