Counselling provides a regular time and space for people to talk about their troubles and explore difficult feelings in an environment that is dependable, free from intrusion and confidential. A counsellor should respect your viewpoint while helping you to deal with specific problems, cope with crises, improve your relationships, or develop better ways of living.

Despite the name, counsellors don’t usually offer advice. Instead, they help you to gain insight into your feelings and behaviour and to change your behaviour, if necessary. They do this by listening to what you have to say and commenting on it from their particular professional perspective.

The word ‘counselling’ covers a broad spectrum, from someone who is highly trained to someone who uses counselling skills (listening, reflecting back what you say, or clarifying) as part of another role. We use the term here to mean a talking therapy delivered by a trained professional.

Sessions usually take place once a week. Making this regular commitment gives you a better chance of finding out why you are having difficulties.

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