What is Counselling?

Counselling is a confidential and supportive place where you can talk about anything that you want to; it’s often easier to talk to someone that is a little more removed from your life than family or friends for the simple reason that you are being viewed with fresh eyes and given the time and space to be your real self. Counselling meets different needs for people depending on what they want to get out of it. For some people, counselling is about recovery, for others it is about sharing and processing, for others it is about change and moving forward. Or maybe a combination of those.

The foundations of counselling are that it provides a safe, confidential space and relationship that is separate from your everyday life. This allows you to speak more openly than you might with friends or family, because your counsellor doesn’t know you in the same way that they do – they see you with fresh eyes, and accept you as you are. This allows you the space, and freedom, to experiment with the ‘you’ that you are presenting, in counselling. For example, this might mean that you share something with your counsellor that you’ve never told anyone before. You can ‘speak the unspeakable’. When you do this, I believe it subtly changes something about you and your identity and allows you to process that information in a different way, or change the way you see or define yourself. And this may be happening in a way that is ‘out of your awareness’. This is often described in counselling literature as a ‘process of change’. Different counsellors will attribute the ‘mechanics’ behind this process to theories that support their particular counselling approach, such as, humanistic, psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioural, integrative. These are essentially lenses through which to view the process – no single theory has been proven to be superior to another.


Counselling can work in other ways too, such as where you might be facing a particular problem or fear – talking it through with someone else can help you to break it down, see it differently and consider different options and ways of dealing with it.

There is a lot of research to suggest that the most important factors which predict a ‘good outcome’ in counselling are: the counselling relationship; that the therapist is using an approach they are comfortable with; and that you are engaging in a type of therapy that suits you. This is why it is important to find a counsellor that you feel comfortable with.

Counselling often takes place once a week (sometimes less frequently) at a time and place agreed between the counsellor and the person having the counselling (the client). How many sessions you have is something you can discuss with your counsellor during the first session, and you can also agree to review how the counselling is going (for example, if you’d like more sessions; if you’d like to finish counselling) during any session. Counsellors often say they will review with you after a certain number of sessions how you are finding counselling, but this is something you can discuss at any point.

There are many different types of counselling – over 400! But the main ones that you will probably hear about are: Person-centred counselling; cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT); and psychodynamic counselling. A really good overview of what these different therapies are can be found here: http://www.counselling-directory.org.uk/counselling.html

For more information on the kind of counselling I provide, please feel free to take a look around my website. Here’s more about my own approach to counselling: My Counselling Approach

Copyright © 2021 Laura Hughes