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.

In the Q3 2022-2023 period 22 million items antidepressant prescriptions were issued, a 2.67% increase compared to the same period in the previous year, a 25% increase compared to the 2017-18 period (NHS Business Services Authority). (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 surprisingly, more and more people are turning for help to various forms of counselling and psychotherapy. In many cases, this is via their GP. Whereas over half of all surgeries across the UK once offered this service on site, it is now usually the case that patients will be referred to NHS Talking Therapies.

Public acceptance of counselling is growing; a British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) survey (2019) 88% found people would seek counselling for a problem before it gets out of hand.

According to the 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 psychotherapy 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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