Counselling is a type of talking therapy in which a trained therapist listens to you and helps you to resolve your emotional problems.
Counselling can be used to refer to talking therapies, but it is also a type of therapy.
What is counselling good for?
Counselling can be a great way to cope with:
A mental health condition such as depression, anxiety, or an eating disorder.
A serious condition such as infertility can be a problem for your physical health.
A difficult life event such as a loss, relationship breakup or work-related stress
Difficult emotions: For example, anger or low self-esteem
Other issues, like sexual identity
What can you expect from counselling
You’ll be encouraged at your appointment to discuss your emotions and feelings with a trained therapist who will listen without judgment or criticism.
A therapist can help to understand your thoughts and feelings and assist you in finding solutions. They will not give you advice or tell you what to do.
Counselling is possible:
Face to face
In a group
Over the phone
Online via live chat services (learn about online tools to improve mental health)
A single session, a series of short sessions, or a longer, more intensive course may be offered.
Although it may take several sessions to notice any improvement, you will eventually feel better with the support and guidance of your therapist.
Is it possible to get free counselling through the NHS?
On the NHS, you can receive free psychological treatments, including counselling for depression.
A referral from a GP is not required.
A psychologist can be referred to you.
Locate a service for psychological therapies in your local area
If you prefer, you can also request a referral from your GP.
Learn more about the BY’s free psychological services
You should ensure that the private therapist you choose is qualified and comfortable.
Private counselling costs can vary depending on where you live. Sessions typically cost between PS10 to PS70.
Many private therapists offer a free initial session, as well as lower rates for job seekers and students.
Before you start a counselling course, it is important to ask about the charges and to agree on a price.
Charities and voluntary organizations
Many charities and non-profit organizations offer to counsel. These organizations are often experts in one area such as family counselling, couples counselling, or bereavement.
A referral from a GP is not required to make an appointment for these services. However, you might have to pay a fee for the sessions.
There are many charities that offer counselling:
Cruse bereavement care – For bereavement support and advice
Rape Crisis England & Wales – for girls and women who have been raped, or sexually abused
Relate – For relationship advice and counselling
Samaritans are for anyone who is struggling to communicate with them.
Victim Support – for victims and witnesses to a crime
Support groups may be available through your church, local community, or social services.
Find a qualified therapist
Counselling involves sharing sensitive topics and personal feelings. Your counsellor must be qualified and experienced.
A professional organization that has been accredited by the Professional Standards Authority will register reputable therapists. This indicates that they meet the PSA’s professional standards for practice.
The PSA website makes it easy to find a qualified therapist.
Other talking therapies
There are many types of psychological therapy (or talking therapies), that include talking to a therapist about how you feel or what your problems are.
Learn more about talking therapies and how they may help
Video: Psychological treatments for stress, anxiety, and depression
Video animation explaining how to self-refer to psychological therapy services for stress, anxiety, or depression