Introduction to Counselling

Man shown in process of moving home

Counselling is often helpful in dealing with life major life adjustments like a relationship ending, redundancy or recovery after serious illness

We all experience problems and some would say that a life without problems and challenges would be very dull indeed. There may be times though when either we have too many problems and feel overwhelmed, or else feel that we simply cannot cope with things as well as we could.

Change, loss, a sense of failure, conflict, or perhaps an awareness of the passage of time in our life, can all trigger a sense that we aren't coping. Alternatively, there may be a specific problem, like stress or bullying at work, a difficult relationship, lack of money or a loved one who is ill. 

The result can be increased nervousness (anxiety), depression, insomnia (sleeplessness), low energy, irritability and a range of physical health problems like headaches, aching limbs or gastrointestinal ('tummy') problems. 

At first many people ignore the problem. Many of us have been brought up to 'just get on with things'. Others might have a few extra drinks or turn to other drugs to block things out.

Sometimes the anxiety or depression may have been a part of our life for as long as we can remember. In other cases we might be aware that we keep on getting into difficulty after difficulty. It can seem like nothing has ever been right for us - ever.

We might turn for help to our GP and they may help us by treating the symptoms, perhaps with success, perhaps not. Some sources indicate that GPs are consulted about depression more than for any other condition and up to half of all consultations are believed to have an underlying psychological factor.

Almost 50 million prescriptions for antidepressants were issued in the U.K. in 2011, a rise of 9% over 2010 (see Medication for Depression on this site). The increase is attributed, at least in part, to more patients looking to GPs for medication, and an increased willingness of GPs to prescribe to them. However, the existence of effective alternative treatments like talking therapy, together with questions about antidepressants’ effectiveness and side effects have led to criticism that doctors are too eager to prescibe.

Not surprsingly, more and more people are turning for help to various forms of counselling and psychotherapy. In many cases, this is via their GP. The provision of counselling in GP surgeries has grown enormously in the last 10 years. Over half of all surgeries across the UK now offer this service.

Public acceptance of counselling is growing; in a MORI poll, 80% of those questioned felt that counselling was an appropriate way of helping people with symptoms of depression.

According to the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), up to half a million people in Britain use therapy. The majority of research suggests that counselling works. A £½m study of the use of counselling for depression, for example, showed that after four months, therapy had reduced patients' depressive symptoms 'to a significantly greater extent' than GP care alone, which usually involves anti-depressant drugs.

Many other studies support the effectiveness of counselling in helping those with anxiety, low self esteem, or poor interpersonal (relationship) skills.

Other relevant pages:

Philosophy - This page looks at the philosophy behind my approach to therapy. It also considers some of the theory behind the way I work

Different types of Therapy - A detailed explanation of the different choices available and information about how they approach your issues

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