Counselling is the broad term for talking therapies which aim to help you to explore your issues in a safe environment and with the support of a therapist. You can use counselling to reflect on losses, to come to terms with change, to try to resolve conflicts in yourself or with others, to overcome difficulties, to face fears and to make improvements in your life. You may be coming to counselling having struggled with your issues for some time before seeking professional help, perhaps having struggled to resolve matters yourself or with the help of friends or loved ones. Alternatively, counselling may be your first opportunity to talk with someone because you have felt unable to share your concerns with those closest to you. With the help of a counsellor you trust, you may be able to develop alternative perspectives, make sense of your difficulties and find more useful ways forward in your life.
What does a counsellor do?
A counsellor is a therapist who has been trained to provide you with the kind of space needed to explore your difficulties without feeling rushed or judged. A counsellor can help you make sense of your concerns and bring some clarity to your situation before assisting you to make the changes you require.
In the transparent and honest relationship built with your counsellor you will be encouraged to share your thoughts and feelings, not only about your difficulties but also about the counselling process itself. Your counsellor’s task is to help you find your way rather than forcing you to see things from their perspective or to lead you in a certain direction.
Types of Counselling
There are many different types of of counselling informed by different theoretical concepts. These include those derived from Freudian ideas, such as psychoanalytic and psychodynamic counselling in which the unconscious sources of issues are explored both through examination of early childhood experiences and through the therapeutic relationship itself. Other approaches such as person-centred counselling aim to provide the optimum conditions for the client to find their own way through their difficulties. Often, but not always, these are longer term approaches with an expectation that clients will be in therapy for months or years on a weekly or even more frequent basis.
Systemic counselling focuses on the relationships between people and examines patterns of interactions in order to help clients develop alternative perspectives and behaviours. Because of the relational nature of Systemic therapy it is often used with couples and families. It is often relatively short term and takes place on a less frequent basis.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) looks at the interaction between thoughts, behaviours and feelings, helping clients to challenge unhelpful, unrealistic thoughts and change behaviours in a collaborative relationship with the therapist. Sessions are usually quite structured and between-session tasks help the client to reinforce learning and test beliefs. CBT therapy usually focuses on very specific issues and is frequently short-term in nature, with sessions often taking place weekly.
Counselling at Achieving Balance
After an initial telephone consultation, we will meet to discuss your concerns in more depth and to give you an opportunity to ask questions about my practice. We can then agree a suitable way forward, including session frequency, duration and intervals. Usually sessions commence on a weekly basis in order to establish some momentum, but they can be spread further apart as counselling progresses. My counselling approach is generally integrative, combining my broad training in a way that is tailored specifically to your needs. For example, if your difficulties concern anxiety in relationships then we may decide to focus on patterns of communication using a Systemic approach combined with some CBT strategies around fear. We will review progress on a regular basis.
If you are interested in counselling, I am a BACP accredited counsellor with many years experience and I offer a free, 20 minute consultation. Please feel free to contact me on 020 7096 8854 or you can contact me online. I am available 7.30am to 8.30pm Monday to Friday, and Saturday mornings.