Counselling Frequently Asked Questions

Common questions and answers about counselling and how it works

What is counselling?

The aim of counselling is that you, as the client will feel empowered and begin to experience a greater sense of personal autonomy. You will have an increased self-awareness which will enable you to chose how to live in a more satisfying way. Ultimately counselling aims to provide you with a greater sense of well-being which should continue into your future. Counselling is not about your counsellor caring for you in a parental way, being a friend, advising or giving guidance.

What can I expect from my counsellor/therapist?

You can expect to be heard, really heard. When you are with your counsellor it should feel like she is really interested in you and is trying to understand you.

Why do people go to counselling?

People come to counselling for different reasons. Often people come to counselling who have been struggling with a difficulty for a while and have been unable to overcome it on their own. Sometimes people have problems in their relationships with others or begin to recognise that they are repeating unhelpful patterns of behaviour in their emotional life or in their work life, and they want to change. Often people have emotions that are making them anxious or making them sad. Counselling can often be sought in a time of crisis, perhaps after a bereavement or the breakdown of a relationship, but sometimes people come for counselling because they ‘just don’t feel right’ – they may be unsure why they feel like this but want to explore what is happening for them in a safe, confidential, supportive environment. Often people seek counselling after being encouraged by family or friends who are worried about them.

Will everything I say be confidential?

Everything you say within the walls of the counselling room remains confidential, unless your counsellor thinks you are a danger to yourself or to others – then your counsellor has a responsibility to inform relevant parties.

Does talking about things that happened in the past really help, as they can’t be changed?

For some people painful experiences from the past can hold them back from really enjoying their lives in the present day. With your counsellor you can explore your past safely and in a manageable way which may involve processing emotions which have remained buried or ‘stuck’ for some time, because they are affecting your enjoyment of life or preventing you from moving forward in a positive way. Some people seem to be stuck in the past and live their lives continually replaying experiences in their heads from years ago or procrastinating. A good therapist can help release you from the ‘ties that bind’ by working through them in the present.

Will I be judged?

No-body likes the feeling of being judged or feeling like they have done something wrong. One of the aims of counselling is that your counsellor provides you with an environment where you can speak freely and feel accepted as a person – ultimately a safe environment for you to explore the difficulties you are experiencing, with your counsellor.

What if I find it hard to talk about my feelings, or even recognise what I’m feeling?

It’s true that often working with feelings can stimulate more feelings in us. Generally the way we express our feelings and emotions can depend on the values and beliefs we hold about emotions passed on to us from our culture and upbringing. Some people were encouraged to show their emotions as a child while others were expected to adopt the famous British ‘stiff upper lip’. Whilst counselling can be about feelings, it is not exclusively so. Our thought processes, our thinking or ‘cognitions’ can be equally as valuable in understanding how a person feels about something. A counsellor will listen sensitively to you as a whole person, including your feelings and be able to respond appropriately.

In a crisis will my counsellor be there for me?

Your counsellor is available for you during your agreed session. Counsellors do not provide ‘out of hours’ cover. In a crisis you will need to contact your GP or your GPs out of hours service, a 24 hour helpline such as the Samaritans (116 123) or if none of these options are available to you, the emergency services.

How do I know if a counsellor is qualified?

Accreditation and Registration in the United Kingdom is through a professional regulatory organisation. Julie is registered or accredited with:

HCPC - Heath and Care Professions Council

BPS - British Psychological Society


UKCP - United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy