Getting Started


Starting Counselling

This guide is a list of questions people might ask before starting to work with a counsellor; they are offered here in the hope it will provide an extra insight into counselling, and help you make the next step.

What is counselling?

Counselling is a term used to describe a ‘talking therapy’, sometimes referred to as psychotherapy and it is a supportive therapeutic relationship between two people, who undertake to work together in an open and sometimes unique way. The trust that builds in that relationship enables the client to feel supported in a way that allows thoughts and feelings to come more clearly into awareness.

People usually approach a counsellor when they are having a difficult time, and this can be from any manner of experience, it is something within that individual that has felt it is important to seek help.

The counsellor works with you, alongside you – seeking to share your experience and being witness to how things are for you right now. In being a trusted independent witness, the counsellor may offer back to you parts of the experience which feel significant.

Is it confidential?

This is one of the most important factors in building the trust between the counsellor and client. At the start of the sessions, you will discuss a “counselling contract”, which clearly states what the counsellor maybe legally required to disclose. Unless legally compelled to, what you talk with your counsellor is strictly confidential.

As part of a counsellor’s responsibility to take care of themselves in their profession, they will take their client work to a supervisor but it is anonymous and you would not be identifiable by the content. This is only to help the counsellor and their professional learning.

The legal requirement to break confidentiality would arise if you indicated a risk of harm to yourself or others (which includes drug trafficking and terrorism).

We would encourage you to talk to your counsellor in the first session and feel really comfortable with the confidential space on offer.

What does counselling do for me?

For most people it is a time and space to focus attention on themselves; often we live such hectic lives that this is a rare opportunity to reflect on how we are. People seek counselling at different times, for different reasons, and we are all unique in our experience of life, so there is no one-size-fits-all. The approach of the therapist will be to work with you, find out where you are looking to focus, and to help you find what you need in these areas.

Will it work?

A subjective question, but one we all wonder when embarking on such a journey…
Counselling is a relationship, where two people meet in the safe, confidential space and work very honestly together; there can be magical moments of experience, of knowing, of connection and it ‘works’. When this doesn’t happen it can be for any number of factors; it is challenging to be ‘real’ and connect in an open way; it can be confronting and we may not be ready and we may not feel safe.  These feelings are important to explore, but your therapist will be checking with you on a regular basis to see how you are finding it.

Will the therapist be right for me?

Good therapy is a close relationship where both therapist and client are able to be open with each other. If after a few sessions you feel it won’t work out, we will make some recommendations for other therapists who may be more suitable.

Is there a contract period?

During the first session, you will discuss a “Counselling Contract” it is a term used in the profession which sounds very legal; it is simply an understanding between us. It clearly states the limits of confidentiality and we agree what happens if you can’t make the session. There is no fixed term (it’s not like the gym) if you start counselling and later decide to stop, there will not be a contract to fight with. We do however ask that we plan the ending, so that we both have notice, it allows your counsellor to work with you to find a place to end which feels right. Sometimes in therapy things can get difficult and people are drawn away, sometimes it is very valuable to work with that feeling and see what is in there, and perhaps stay, even though it is hard.

When will I feel better?

A very hard question to answer and it is different for everyone. It is important to prepare yourself for therapy being hard work, sometimes not feeling better is where you are. We work with you, in the place you are, and it’s sometimes very therapeutic to ‘be’ in the difficult place without the pressure to move out of it. It’s not a sprint, so be prepared to push through and you will come out the other side when the time is right.